Grey Skies Fallen Announce Cold Dead Lands out Jan. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

grey skies fallen
New York-based death-doomers Grey Skies Fallen have set a Jan. 24 release for their fifth long-player, Cold Dead Lands, which is about an accurate a description of NY in January as I could ever hope to devise. They’re streaming a teaser for it as well as the whole track “Procession to the Tombs,” and both would seem to speak of a consuming bleakness to come, some inescapable aspects of New York’s death metal crunch making their way into the sound of the tracks. Unsurprisingly, it’s very, very dark. Like 5PM for the next two months.

I’ve observed a phenomenon over the years that when I write about death-doom, no one ever really gives a crap. I don’t know if that’ll be the case here, but I dig the track they’ve posted, so I’m going to try to review the album if I can regardless, so take that, I guess. If you want more fuzz rock, I don’t know, wait five minutes or something. I’m sure it’ll be along soon enough.

Meantime:

grey skies fallen cold dead lands

Grey Skies Fallen to Release “Cold Dead Lands” January 24th, 2020

Grey Skies Fallen will self-release Cold Dead Lands on January 24, 2020. Cold Dead Lands is the 5th studio album from the New York-based melodic death metal/doom band in a 23-year career.

Cold Dead Lands was produced by Grey Skies Fallen. The album was recorded at Audio Playground, and engineered by Keith Moore. Dan Swanö (Nightingale, ex-Edge of Sanity, ex-Bloodbath) mixed and mastered the album at Unisound Recordings Studio.

Travis Smith (Opeth, Nevermore, Katatonia) created the artwork. Dan Gargiulo (Revocation, Artificial Brain) and Will Smith (Buckshot Facelift, Artificial Brain, Afterbirth) appear as guests.

Listen to the Album Teaser
Cold Dead Lands Tracklisting
1. Visions from the Last Sunset
2. Cold Dead Lands
3. Procession to the Tombs
4. Picking Up the Pieces
5. Ways of the World
6. After the Summer Comes the Fall

Pre-order a digital download or digipack CD of Cold Dead Lands via the band’s Bandcamp page. All pre-orders include an instant, high-quality download (MP3, FLAC, more) of the album track “Procession to the Tombs,” plus the complete album the moment it’s released on January 24th.

Grey Skies Fallen is:
Rick Habeeb – Guitar/Vocals
Tom Anderer – Bass
Sal Gregory – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/greyskiesfallen
https://greyskiesfallen.bandcamp.com/

Grey Skies Fallen, Cold Dead Lands album teaser

Grey Skies Fallen, Cold Dead Lands (2020)

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Friday Full-Length: Geezer, Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I recently had reason to go back and pop on Geezer‘s first record, Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues. And I’ll be honest, it’s probably the most I’ve dug into it since it was released in Sept. 2013. Maybe it was the fact that I’d just moved out of the New York region, where they’re from, and the last thing I needed was another thing to be bummed about leaving behind. Maybe it was the fact that Bandcamp was just really starting to come up as an outlet for heavy music and it seemed like every band with a “stoner rock” tag was being mega-hyped on social media as the next Whoever.

Maybe I wasn’t feeling guitarist Pat Harrington‘s gravelly vocal approach — which can sound at first glance like a put-on, but I tell you as someone who’s had extensive conversations with the man, he’s no less ‘whiskey-soaked’ when you’re quietly chatting about your kids than he is on “Full Tilt Boogie” here — or lyrics like “You’re such an evil bitch” in opener “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “My girl is built like a pony/Long legs and curves that ain’t phony” on “Pony,” which only lace one of the catchiest slide guitar riffs I’ve heard in the last 10 years with a fervent eyeroll even now as I’ve come to appreciate Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues on an aesthetic level, for its songwriting, and for its subtle hints at the band that Geezer would become.

At the time, they were comprised of Harrington, bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Chris Turco, and their stock-in-trade was indeed a heavy blues rock marked out by rolling grooves and the use of slide guitar — something Harrington has pulled back on in years since, possibly as he’s grown more confident in working without it and the band has changed direction — but from their bouncing cover of The Beatles‘ “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road” to the mellow post-Clutch‘s “The Regulator” twanger “Rain on the Highway,” to “Underground” and the penultimate shuffler “I Just Wanna Get High with You,” which boogie enough between them to remind that the blues can be a party as much as it can be anything, their early work reaches beyond those simple stylistic confines. Or at very least it pushes the limits of expectation for them.

Villano and Turco would both eventually be out of Geezer, but the three-piece had a chemistry that worked well and sounded natural throughout Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues and their subsequent offerings together, and that dynamic is clearly established in these 10 songs. For the title and cover art’s speaking to an earlier era of recorded music — too bad I don’t think a 78RPM platter can hold a 39-minute release, otherwise a limited reissue pressing could be a lot of fun; maybe a double-78 just for kicks and collectors? — the production is never especially retro sounding, but the tracks still come though with enough energy to carry their largely comfortable tempos and there’s enough range between them that Geezer give a showing of character and craft that, had I done a list of 2013’s best debut albums, probably would’ve deserved to be on it.

geezer electrically recorded handmade heavy blues

But that’s hindsight, and of course informed by my experience with the band since as well as the group they’d become. I had seen them and written positive things about their 2013 Gage EP (review here) that would become an STB Records LP (review here) in 2014 — so it’s not like they were completely off my radar — but I just kind of missed out on Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues when it came out. I tell you all the time I suck at this. It ain’t like Pokemon. You can’t catch ’em all.

Not yet is mentioned six-minute closer “Still a Fool,” and that’s on purpose. It’s about a minute and a half longer than the next longest track, and something of a standout as well as very purposefully placed where it is on the record. It starts out with an up and down riff and Harrington‘s vocals, talking about back-door-creepin’ on someone else’s wife or some such, and resolves itself in a blues rock cacophony worthy of any ’70s comparison you want to make for it — MC5, Cactus, Zeppelin, doesn’t matter who — before capping off as a gig might. In so doing, Geezer sends advance notice of a skill that would emerge in their sound over subsequent offerings, including that Gage LP the next year, and that is the jam.

Ah, the jam. Take a breath. In. Out. The jam.

As the band began its gradual shift in lineup, it was the jam that would begin to emerge as the dominant force within their sound, and it was through the jam that Harrington‘s true persona came through on guitar. Gage and the Live! Full-Tilt Boogie tape (review here) in 2014 showed more flashes of it, and their 2015 participation in Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy split series (review here) alongside D.C.’s Borracho led into their 2016 self-titled LP (review here), their second proper full-length, that really marked their arrival as something more than an object of temporary social media interest.

Now signed to Ripple, they brought that bluesy sound with them as they veered into more psychedelic and melodically adventurous fare, balancing songs and extended explorations in a way that successfully captured their live spirit with studio clarity. 2017’s Psychoriffadelia (review here) followed and built on that principle, and early 2019’s Spiral Fires EP (review here) on Kozmik Artifactz not only kept the momentum and progression going, but tested the waters with drummer Steve Markota alongside the longer-set pairing of Harrington and bassist Richie Touseull. And “waters” is the right word for the fluidity they were able to conjure between the three of them.

Nonetheless, the reason I had for going back and finally giving Geezer‘s debut long-player its due was that in 2020 the band — HarringtonTouseullMarkota — will release another new album that they’ve been working on throughout 2019. I’m not saying I’ve heard any of the tracks or anything, but I will say there’s a good chance it marks another significant forward step in their ongoing sonic evolution and features some of their best and most developed songwriting to-date. I have no release plans or details to share, but consider it something to look forward to, even as you look back at their first record.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US. Like just about everything in this country — including the country itself — its history is racist and horrifying. Hi, colonialism.

Turkey was good, family time was even better. My Jersey crew and The Patient Mrs.’ Connecticut crew (plus a rare but crucial appearance from the Maryland blood-relative branch) all got together up in CT and we went up with The Pecan on Wednesday, stayed over and then were there until after dinner and at least the first stage of cleanup on Thursday before getting in the car so the kid could fall asleep on the ride and then just basically be thrown in bed. It was good.

I’ve slept an extra hour the last few days, waking up at 5 instead of 4AM. It’s been good for my rest level, bad for productivity. My disposition is still shit either way, so, you know, I might as well at least do what I need to do to get done what I need to get done. Head down, keep working.

Like now. It’s 9AM. I just put up that Roadburn post — actually just got to write it too, with all the inherent chaos of the holiday yesterday — and The Pecan and The Patient Mrs. are playing hide and seek while I’m off watch and buried in my computer. I must really need this as much as I think I do.

I have an appointment to finish up a root canal in about an hour and a half, so that’s a thing to look forward to. This is the follow-up to the surprise root canal I had a couple Fridays ago. Third one on the same tooth. I don’t like the tooth’s chances longterm, but I’ll try and give it as much of a shot as I can. The crown is too big and shaped wrong for the surrounding teeth. The human mouth is a cesspool anyway. Why should my bite be any less awkwardly shaped than any of the rest of me?

So anyway, I’ll probably spend the next 45 minutes or so trying to brush the coffee taste and residual garlic from yesterday out of my mouth (and fail) before I head out and then come back and start to worry about weekend stuff like the press release I need to write for STB Records this weekend — I’ve sworn to myself that I’m stepping back from such usually-unpaid labors as this, liner notes, bios, etc., and I am, but some projects you can’t refuse — and a playlist for the next Gimme Radio show, which airs next Friday. I guess it’s best-of-2019 time already. Go figure.

Anyway, if you’re in the States, I hope you got the four-day weekend thing going. I’ll be in my sweatpants probably the entire time, fretting about this and that and enjoying leftovers. May you rock and roll and have fun and be safe and be kind and have kindness done to you, wherever you are.

FRM. Forum, Radio, Merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

 

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Swans Announce June 2020 North American Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I haven’t reviewed the new Swans album, Leaving Meaning, and I’m kind of going back and forth on doing so. Not that my fucking opinion matters about it in the slightest — ain’t like Michael Gira is sitting on his hands waiting for me, or probably anyone else for that matter, to put a post up on the internet — but I didn’t even know about the sexual misconduct allegation against him until the last time I posted about the band and now I’m not really sure where I stand on it. Dude got inappropriate and made a lady uncomfortable. It’s extra fucked because she was on his label. I don’t think there was forced sex, rape in the way we used to think of rape, but still. Doesn’t that matter? Shouldn’t it?

Happened to Bobby Liebling from Pentagram a few years ago as well — not that his troubles are all limited to that — and the woman was basically obliterated for it, like it was her fault Liebling‘s been a reputed scumbag his entire adult life. I don’t know. It just seems like for an underground that counts itself as being vaguely progressive in some inclusionary sense, the dominant voices are still awfully white and awfully male generally. It’s a bummer sometimes, complicit as I am in it.

Countdown to some dude disagreeing in five, four, three…

So anyway, here some Swans tour dates. I may review the record, I may not, but I’ve covered the band to this point since they got back in 2010 (and kind of before that too), so there you go:

swans

SWANS announce North American tour dates for 2020

Having released their 15th studio album leaving meaning. to considerable media acclaim, Swans are announcing North American tour dates for spring 2020, which follow a European tour. Very special guest for these shows will be Anna von Hausswolff. Kicking off in Dallas, TX, the tour will finish with two Brooklyn dates at Warsaw June 26 and 27 – full details below.

Swans live will be: Michael Gira (acoustic and electric guitar and voice); Kristof Hahn (lap steel guitar, electric guitar, loops); Phil Puleo (drums, percussion, gizmos); Dana Schechter (bass guitar, lap steel guitar, keys); Christopher Pravdica (bass guitar, loops, keys); Ben Frost (synthesizer, Mellotron, electric guitar).

SWANS NORTH AMERICAN TOUR – SPRING 2020
6/5/2020 Dallas TX Granada Theater
6/6/2020 Austin TX Oblivion Access Festival at Empire Garage
6/9/2020 Los Angeles CA Regent Theatre
6/10/2020 San Francisco CA The Fillmore
6/12/2020 Portland OR Revolution Hall
6/13/2020 Seattle WA The Neptune
6/16/2020 Minneapolis MN Varsity Theater
6/17/2020 Chicago IL Thalia Hall
6/19/2020 Detroit MI El Club
6/20/2020 Toronto ON Lee’s Palace
6/21/2020 Montreal QC Theatre National
6/24/2020 Allston MA Brighton Music Hall
6/25/2020 Philadelphia PA Underground Arts
6/26/2020 Brooklyn NY Warsaw
6/27/2020 Brooklyn NY Warsaw

leaving meaning. was written and produced by Michael Gira and features contributions from recent and former Swans, members of Angels of Light, as well as guest artists Anna and Maria von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee, and a Hawk and a Hacksaw.

Michael Gira explains, “leaving meaning. is the first Swans album to be released since I dissolved the lineup of musicians that constituted Swans from 2010 – 2017. Swans is now comprised of a revolving cast of musicians, selected for both their musical and personal character, chosen according to what I intuit best suits the atmosphere in which I’d like to see the songs I’ve written presented. In collaboration with me, the musicians, through their personality, skill and taste, contribute greatly to the arrangement of the material. They’re all people whose work I admire and whose company I personally enjoy.”

http://www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial
https://swans.bandcamp.com
http://www.younggodrecords.com/

Swans, “The Hanging Man”

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White Hills Post “Automated City” Video Ahead of European Tour

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

white hills

I believe that if you go back and check the Official Bureau of Records on Such Things, the central thesis of my last post about New York’s White Hills was that nobody has any idea what they’re doing and that people who pretend otherwise are full of crap. It was something like that, anyhow. Or if not, that’s what it should’ve been. Whatever. In support of this argument I may or may not have been making — I don’t have the funds to file a 27B/6 request with the Official Bureau to check the record and find out — I humbly offer the band’s new video for “Automated City,” which they’ve newly posted ahead of the European tour on which they’ll embark next month.

“Band releasing a new video ahead of a tour,” you say. “Not much weird about that.” Correct. However. Check out the track itself before you fully assess. Yeah, you’ll hear some krautrock vibes in there as well as intangibles like the legacy of New York’s noisemaking experimentalist scene such as it was before Thurston and Kim got divorced, and you’ll hear any number of things all coming together as White Hills, but isn’t that the point? Put a tag on that. Call it something other than the band’s name. Double-dog dare you. As I know I said last time, verbatim: “Good fucking luck.”

And once you’ve accomplished that task, I’ll gladly set you on figuring out what might lead White Hills to make a video for a song from 2015’s Walks for Motorists rather than their latest LP, 2017’s Stop Mute Defeat, or maybe even something new they’re working on from their next album in progress.

And once you’ve accomplished that task, I’ll leave you to the video itself, put together by the band’s own Ego Sensation, and looking like something out of a Hitchcock opening credits sequence.

Have fun:

White Hills, “Automated City” official video

White Hills present “Automated City”, a noir vignette shot and constructed by Ego Sensation. Inspired by noir films of the 1940s and the avant-garde stage theater of American director and playwright Robert Wilson, the video traverses a shadowy dream world of shifting perspective. A firm fan favourite, the song is from the band’s 2015 album Walks For Motorists, produced by David Wrench, best known for his work with Goldfrapp, Caribou and FKA Twigs as well as with his own synth-duo audiobooks.

White Hills are currently in the studio working on a new album with Jeff Berner (Psychic TV) at Studio G in Brooklyn featuring a slew of unique collaborators including; Jim Jarmusch (Filmmaker & Musician), Yasmine Hamden (singer-songwriter who also appears in Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive”), Simone Marie Butler (bassist with Primal Scream), Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop) and Alex Macarte (GNOD).

White Hills – Buy The Ticket Take The Ride EU tour 2019 Dates:
14/11 CH Bern Spinnerei
15/11 ITA Busto Arsizio Circolo Gagarin (with Martin Bisi)
16/11 ITA Roma Roma Psych Fest
17/11 ITA Loreto Reasonanz (with Martin Bisi)
18/11 ITA Perugia T-Trane
19/11 ITA Torino BlahBlah
20/11 ITA Padova Nadir
21/11 ITA Ravenna Transmission Festival (with Martin Bisi)
22/11 ITA Ravenna Transmission Festival
23/11 AT Salzburg Dome of Rock Festival
24/11 DE Karlsruhe Alte Hackerei
25/11 DE Leipzig Nato
26/11 DE Berlin Urban Spree (with Martin Bisi)
27/11 SWE Malmo Plan B
28/11 SWE Gothenborg Musikenhus
29/11 DK Copenhagen BASEMENT
30/11 DE Munster Rare Guitar
1/12 NL Den Bosch W2 Poppodium
2/12 BE Bruxelles Mag 4 (with Martin Bisi)
3/12 FRA Paris Supersonic

White Hills Tumblr

White Hills on Thee Facebooks

White Hills on Bandcamp

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Geezer Update on New Album Progress; Unveil Badass Shirt Design

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

There’s an awful lot we don’t know about the next Geezer record yet. The increasingly trippy Kingston, New York, heavy blues-psych jammers released their 2019 EP, Spiral Fires (review here), via Kozmik Artifactz this past Spring, but I’ve no clue as to whether that imprint will handle the new full-length, let alone things like the name of this album, the release date, the song titles, what it sounds like, and all of that other fun stuff that goes into record details. But they’ve leaked out a couple videos from the studio and that’s a good time, so I’ll take what I can get in that regard, and they posted that they’re currently in the mixing stage, so maybe it won’t be all that long until some substantive word comes down the PR wire about a plan for getting the thing out there.

I’d assume it’s a 2020 release, just because time’s short in 2019 at this point for an album to be mastered, pressed, properly promoted, etc. They could be part of what’s become the annual February Onslaught, whereby all the records that various parties have been sitting on all winter are finally issued, but it could honestly be March or April before it shows up, especially if they want to line up a tour surrounding, either at home or abroad. Frankly, either would be a reasonable move for them at this point. Hell, I saw them with Sasquatch and Nebula last month (review here) and they were fantastic. Let them go do three weeks in Europe with Sasquatch. Make the world a better place for a while.

Well, anyhoozle. While I’m sitting here planning tours for bands that I won’t get to see, you can dig into what Geezer had to say about where they’re at. Also, I don’t regularly post anything about a band’s merch, because jeez, I’d never post about anything else, but this design by Joshua Wilkinson from The Company was too good not to include, as I think you’ll likely agree. T-shirt is on their Bandcamp now. I bought one this morning:

geezer shirt design

Geezer – **ALBUM UPDATE**

We are currently in the mixing phase of the new full length album. It’s gonna be righteous! This shirt design was done by @thecompanykc and will be available soon through our Bandcamp page… dig!

Things got trippy in the studio a few weeks ago… new album is gonna be killer!

Come for the music… stay for the dog.

https://www.instagram.com/geezertown/
https://www.facebook.com/geezerNY/
http://geezertown.bandcamp.com/

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Swans Announce Live Lineup & Euro Tour; Leaving Meaning out Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

swans (Photo by Jennifer Gira)

Swans founder Michael Gira is currently on a solo tour in Europe — he’ll be in Slovenia tomorrow, if you’re in the neighborhood — and the band are getting ready to release the much-anticipated Leaving Meaning on Friday. All that’s pretty awesome, but adding a tour announcement never hurts either, so European shows it is. I can’t help but notice this run starts just a few days after Roadburn ends, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for that or otherwise look out for the US-dates announcement that’s reportedly coming soon. Either way, it’s Swans, so one wants to show up and receive the due skull-caving.

The live lineup that will play on the European and presumably also the US tour has been unveiled as well, including a few familiar faces, including Dana Schecter, also of Insect Ark, and fellow past Swans contributors Kristof Hahn, Christopher Pravdica and Phil Puleo. Ben Frost, listed on guitar and synth/Mellotron below, also plays on Leaving Meaning but doesn’t seem to have been in the band at any point prior. New face.

Alright then, on to the dates and whatnot:

This collection of individuals will comprise the musical group Swans in live performance in 2020 (see dates below). They will interpret material from the album “leaving meaning.” as well as perform new, unrecorded material…

Christopher Pravdica – bass guitar, weird-ass sounds, keyboards, loops;
Dana Schechter – bass guitar, lap steel, keyboard;
Ben Frost – Synthesizer, Mellotron, electric guitar;
Kristof Hahn – lap steel, electric guitar, loops;
Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, hammer dulcimer;
Michael Gira – acoustic and electric guitars, voice…

Here are the European shows that have been booked (US shows announcing soon):

4/26/2020 Krems an der Donau A Donau Festival at Stadtsaal Krems
4/28/2020 Berlin DE Festsaal Kreuzberg
4/29/2020 Prague CZ Divaldo ARCHA Theatre
4/30/2020 Warsaw PL Progresia
5/3/2020 Stockholm S Nalen
5/4/2020 Copenhagen DK Vega Main Hall
5/5/2020 Hamburg DE Übel & Gefährlich
5/8/2020 Barcelona ES Razzmatazz
5/9/2020 Madrid ES Sala la Riviera
5/10/2020 Porto PT Hard Club
5/13/2020 Zürich CH Rote Fabrik Ziegel oh Lac
5/14/2020 Milan IT Santeria Social Club
5/15/2020 Belfort F La Poudriere
5/18/2020 Wiesbaden DE Kulturzentrum Schlachthof
5/19/2020 Paris FR Le Trabendo
5/20/2020 Amsterdam NL Paradiso Music Hall
5/22/2020 Brussels BE AB
5/23/2020 Cologne DE Gebaeude 9
5/26/2020 London UK EartH
5/27/2020 London UK EartH

Remaining Michael Gira solo tour dates:
23 Oct – Ljubljana, Slovenia
25 Oct – Bucharest, Romania
26 Oct – Cluj-napoca, Romania
28 Oct – Warsaw, Poland
29 Oct – Warsaw, Poland
31 Oct – Kyiv, Ukraine
1 Nov – Vilnius, Lithuania
2 Nov – Helsinki, Finland

Album pre-order: http://smarturl.it/SWANS-LM

http://www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial
https://swans.bandcamp.com
http://www.younggodrecords.com/

Swans, “It’s Coming it’s Real”

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White Hills Announce European Tour Dates & New Collaborations

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Let’s face it: Long after the floods and storms and famine and whatever else claim humanity, the sentient dolphins who inherent the earth will still be dedicating their best scholars to the task of trying to understand just what the hell level White Hills were working on. Most certainly, whatever it was — or, you know, is — it’s their own. In the best tradition of New York’s underground, they’ve long been an in-the-know-type band. The sort who might record and play shows with Martin Bisi and whose experimentalism extends through things like covering obscure ’80s synth tracks and scooting off to their kinda-adopted-home-base on the European circuit for a Fall tour that includes a slew of festivals psychedelic and otherwise.

White Hills thrive in this hard-to-get-a-handle-on aesthetic territory between genres, and as they’re in the studio putting together a new album that, you know, just has Jim Jarmusch on it — as one does — they’ll no doubt continue that thread of casting out mysteries for future aquatic-mammalian historians to try and unravel.

Good fucking luck.

From the PR wire:

WHITE HILLS Tour

New York’s acclaimed fuzz art-rock duo White Hills return to Europe

Having gathered a reputation as one of the most prolific and exciting live bands of their generation, White Hills are scheduled to descend upon mainland Europe this Autumn, playing for the very first time as a duo; with Ego Sensation on drums, electronics and vocals and Dave W on guitar and vocals.

On this tour the set will include new never-before-heard material which the band are currently working on (more on this below) as well as songs from the band’s vast catalogue including tracks from Glitter Glamour Atrocity, White Hills, H-p1, So You Are…So You’ll Be, Walks For Motorists and Stop Mute Defeat.

The tour includes several shows with collaborator and legendary NYC producer Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth, Swans, Foetus). Dave and Ego comment further on this collaboration. “We’re honored to have been able to work with Martin on three White Hills’ albums and the BC35 collaboration which brought together members of The Swans, Sonic Youth, Pop 1280, Foetus, Dresden Dolls and many other unique artists. BC Studios continues to be a vibrant breeding ground for New York noise and innovative music.” Bisi is curating The Transmission Festival in Ravenna, Italy which will feature several other NYC artists who appear on the BC35 Volume II compilation, which is released by the hosts of the festival, Bronson Recordings.

White Hills are currently in the studio working on a new album with Jeff Berner (Psychic TV) at Studio G in Brooklyn featuring a slew of unique collaborators including; Jim Jarmusch (Filmmaker & Musician), Yasmine Hamden (singer-songwriter who also appears in Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive”), Simone Marie Butler (bassist with Primal Scream), Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop) and Alex Macarte (GNOD).

White Hills – Buy The Ticket Take The Ride EU tour 2019 Dates:
14/11 CH Bern Spinnerei
15/11 ITA Busto Arsizio Circolo Gagarin (with Martin Bisi)
16/11 ITA Roma Roma Psych Fest
17/11 ITA Loreto Reasonanz (with Martin Bisi)
18/11 ITA Perugia T-Trane
19/11 ITA Torino BlahBlah
20/11 ITA Padova Nadir
21/11 ITA Ravenna Transmission Festival (with Martin Bisi)
22/11 ITA Ravenna Transmission Festival
23/11 AT Salzburg Dome of Rock Festival
24/11 DE Karlsruhe Alte Hackerei
25/11 DE Leipzig Nato
26/11 DE Berlin Urban Spree (with Martin Bisi)
27/11 SWE Malmo Plan B
28/11 SWE Gothenborg Musikenhus
29/11 DK Copenhagen BASEMENT
30/11 DE Munster Rare Guitar
1/12 NL Den Bosch W2 Poppodium
2/12 BE Bruxelles Mag 4 (with Martin Bisi)
3/12 FRA Paris Supersonic

http://whitehillsmusic.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WHITE-HILLS-90476409450/
https://whitehills.bandcamp.com/

White Hills, “Putting on the Pressure”

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Quarterly Review: Monkey3, Asthma Castle, The Giraffes, Bask, Faerie Ring, Desert Sands, Cavalcade, Restless Spirit, Children of the Sün, Void King

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Call two friends and tell them to tell two friends to tell two friends, because the Quarterly Review has returned. This time around, it’s 50 records front to back for Fall 2019 and there are some big names and some smaller names and a whole lot of in between which is just how I like it. Between today and Friday, each day 10 album reviews will be posted in a single batch like this one, and although by Wednesday this always means I’m totally out of my mind, it’s always, always, always worth it to be able to write about so much cool stuff. So sit tight, because there’s a lot to get through and, as ever, time’s at a premium.

Thanks in advance for keeping up, and I hope you find something you dig.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Monkey3, Sphere

monkey3 sphere

It’s a full-on Keanu Reeves “whoa” when opening track “Spirals” kicks in on Monkey3‘s sixth album, Sphere (released by Napalm), and that’s by no means the last one on the cinematic six-tracker. The long-running Swiss mostly-instrumentalists have been consistently, persistently underappreciated throughout their career, but whether it’s the aural scope of guitar and keys in “Axis” or the swaps between intensity and sprawl in 14-minute closer “Ellipsis,” their latest work is consuming in its sense of triumph. Even the four-minute “Ida,” which seems at first like it’s barely going to be more than an interlude, finds a thread of majestic cosmic groove and rides it for the duration, while the proggy immersion of “Prism” and the harder drive of “Mass” — not to mention that shredding solo — make the middle of the record anything but a post-hypnosis dip. I won’t pretend to know if Sphere is the record that finally gets the Lausanne four-piece the respect they’ve already well deserved, but if it was, one could only say it was for good reason. Blends of heft, progressive craft, and breadth are rarely so resonant.

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Napalm Records website

 

Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore

Asthma Castle Mount Crushmore

When you call your record Mount Crushmore, you need to bring it, and much to their credit, Baltimorean sludge-rocking five-piece Asthma Castle do precisely that on their debut full-length. Issued through Hellmistress Records, the 37-minute/six-track outing is a wordplay-laced pummeler that shows as much persona in its riffing and massive groove as it does in titles like “The Incline of Western Civilization” and “The Book of Duderonomy.” Trades between early-Mastodonic twists and lumbering sludge crash add a frenetic and unpredictable feel to pieces like the title-track, while “Methlehem” trades its plod for dual-guitar antics punctuated by metallic double-kick, all the while the vocals trade back and forth between growls, shouts, cleaner shouts, the odd scream, etc., because basically if you can keep up with it, Asthma Castle wouldn’t be doing their job. One shudders to think of the amount of Natty Bo consumed during its making, but Mount Crushmore is a wild and cacophonous enough time to live up to the outright righteousness of its title. If I graded reviews, it would get a “Fuckin’ A+,” with emphasis on “fuckin’ a.”

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Hellmistress Records website

 

The Giraffes, Flower of the Cosmos

the giraffes flower of the cosmos

Some day the world will wake up and realize the rock and roll powerhouse it had in Brooklyn’s The Giraffes, but by then it’ll be too late. The apocalypse will have happened long ago, and it’ll be Burgess Meredith putting on a vinyl of Flower of the Cosmos in the New York Library as “FAKS” echoes out through the stacks of now-meaningless tomes and the dust of nuclear winter falls like snow outside the windows. The band’s tumultuous history is mirrored in the energy of their output, and yet to hear the melody and gentle fuzz at the outset of “Golden Door,” there’s something soothing about their work as well that, admittedly, “Raising Kids in the End Times” is gleeful in undercutting. Cute as well they pair that one with “Dorito Dreams” on this, their seventh record in a 20-plus-year run, which has now seen them find their footing, lose it, find it again, and in this record and songs like the masterfully frenetic “Fill up Glass” and the air-tight-tense “Like Hate” and “Romance,” weave a document every bit worthy of Mr. Meredith’s attention as he mourns for the potential of this godforsaken wasteland. Oh, what we’ll leave behind. Such pretty ruins.

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Bask, III

bask iii

In the fine tradition of heavy rock as grown-up punk, North Carolina’s Bask bring progressive edge and rolling-Appalachian atmospherics to the underlying energy of III, their aptly-titled and Season of Mist-issued third album. Their foot is in any number of styles, from Baroness-style noodling to a hard twang that shows up throughout and features prominently on the penultimate “Noble Daughters II – The Bow,” but the great triumph of III, and really the reason it works at all, is because the band find cohesion in this swath of influences. They’re a band who obviously put thought into what they do, making it all the more appropriate to think of them as prog, but as “Three White Feet” and “New Dominion” show at the outset, they don’t serve any aesthetic master so much as the song itself. Closing with banjo and harmonies and a build of crash cymbal on “Maiden Mother Crone” nails the point home in a not-understated way, but at no point does III come across as hyper-theatrical so as to undercut the value of what Bask are doing. It’s a more patient album than it at first seems, but given time to breathe, III indeed comes to life.

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Season of Mist on Bandcamp

 

Faerie Ring, The Clearing

fairie ring the clearing

Listening to the weighty rollout of opening cut “Bite the Ash” on Faerie Ring‘s debut album, The Clearing (on King Volume Records), one is reminded of the energy that once-upon-a-time came out of Houston’s Venomous Maximus. There’s a similar feeling of dark energy surging through the riffs and echoing vocals, but the Evansville, Indiana, four-piece wind up on a different trip. Their take is more distinctly Sabbathian on “Lost Wind” and even the swinging “Heavy Trip” lives up to its stated purpose ahead of the chugging largesse of finisher “Heaven’s End.” They find brash ground on “The Ring” and the slower march of “Somnium,” but there’s metal beneath the lumbering and it comes out on “Miracle” in a way that the drums late in “Lost Wind” seem to hint toward on subsequent listens. It’s a mix of riff-led elements that should be readily familiar to many listeners, but the sheer size and clarity of presentation Faerie Ring make throughout The Clearing makes me think they’ll look to distinguish themselves going forward, and so their first record holds all the more potential for that.

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Desert Sands, The Ascent EP

Desert Sands The Ascent

Begun as the solo-project of London-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mark Walker and presently a trio including Louis Kinder and Jonathan Walker as well, Desert Sands make their recorded debut through A Records with the three-song/half-hour The Ascent EP, a work of psychedelic existentialism that conveys its cosmic questioning even before the lyrics start, with an opening riff and rhythmic lurch to “Are You There” that seems to throw its central query into a void that either will or won’t answer. Does it? The hell should I know, but The Ascent proves duly transcendent in its pulsations as “Head Towards the Light” and 11:45 closer “Yahweh” — yeah, I guess we get there — bring drifting, languid enlightenment to these spiritual musings. The finale is, of course, a jam in excelsis and if drop-acid-find-god is the narrative we’re working with, then Desert Sands are off to a hell of a start as a project. Regardless of how one might ultimately come down (and it is, by my estimation at least, a comedown) on the question of human spirituality, there’s no denying the power and ethereal force of the kind of creativity on display in The Ascent. One will wait impatiently to see what comes next.

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Cavalcade, Sonic Euthanasia

Cavalcade Sonic Euthanasia

Say what you want about New Orleans or North Carolina or wherever the hell else, Midwestern sludge is another level of filth. To wit, the Carcass-style vocals that slice through the raw, dense riffing on “Aspirate on Aspirations” feel like the very embodiment of modern disillusion, and there’s some flourish of melodic guitar pluck there, but that only seems to give the ensuing crunch more impact, and likewise the far-back char of “Freezing in Fire” as it relates to the subsequent “Dead Idles,” as Cavalcade refute the trappings of genre in tempo while still seeming to burrow a hole for themselves in the skull of the converted. “Noose Tie” and “We Dig Our Own Graves” tell the story, but while the recording itself is barebones, Cavalcade aren’t now and never really have been so simple as to be a one-trick band. For more than a decade, they’ve provided a multifaceted and trickily complex downer extremity, and Sonic Euthanasia does this as well, bringing their sound to new places and new levels of abrasion along its punishing way. Easy listening? Shit. You see that eye on the cover? That’s the lizard people staring back at you. Have fun with that.

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Restless Spirit, Lord of the New Depression

restless spirit lord of the new depression

Long Island chug-rockers Restless Spirit would seem to have been developing the material for their self-released debut album, Lord of the New Depression, over the last couple years on a series of short releases, but the songs still sound fresh and electrified in their vitality. If this was 1992 or ’93, they’d be signed already to RoadRacer Records and put on tour with Life of Agony, whose River Runs Red would seem to be a key influence in the vocals of the nine-track/39-minute offering, but even on their own, the metal-tinged five-piece seem to do just fine. Their tracks are atmospheric and aggressive and kind, and sincere in their roll, capturing the spirit of a band like Down with somewhat drawn-back chestbeating, “Dominion” aside. They seem to be challenging themselves to push outside those confines though in “Deep Fathom Hours,” the longest track at 7:35 with more complexity in the melody of the vocals and guitar, and that suits them remarkably well as they dig into this doomly take on LOA and Type O Negative and others from the early ’90s NYC underground — they seem to pass on Biohazard, which is fine — made legendary with the passage of time. As a gentleman of a certain age, I find it exceptionally easy to get on board.

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Children of the Sün, Flowers

Children of the Sun Flowers

An eight-piece outfit based in Arvika, Sweden, which is far enough west to be closer to Oslo than Stockholm, Children of the Sün blend the classic heavy rock stylizations of MaidaVale, first-LP Blues Pills and others with a decidedly folkish bent. Including an intro, their The Sign Records debut album, Flowers, is eight track and 34 minutes interweaving organ and guitar, upbeat vibes and bluesier melodies, taking cues from choral-style vocals on “Emmy” in such a way as to remind of Church of the Cosmic Skull, though the aesthetic here is more hippie than cult. The singing on “Sunschild” soars in that fashion as well, epitomizing the lush melody found across Flowers as the keys, guitar, bass and drums work to match in energy and presence. For a highlight, I’d pick the more subdued title-track, which still has its sense of movement thanks to percussion deep in the mix but comes arguably closest to the flower-child folk Children of the Sün seem to be claiming for their own, though the subsequent closing duo of “Like a Sound” and “Beyond the Sun” aren’t far off either. They’re onto something. One hopes they continue to explore in such sünshiny fashion.

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Void King, Barren Dominion

void king barren dominion

Having made their debut with 2016’s There is Nothing (discussed here), Indianapolis downtrodden heavy rock four-piece Void King come back for a second go with Barren Dominion (on Off the Record Label), a title of similar theme that finds them doom riffing through massive tonality on “Burnt at Both Ends,” asking what if Soundgarden played atmospheric doom rock on “Crippled Chameleon” — uh, it would be awesome? yup — and opening each side with its longest track (double immediate points) in a clearly intended vinyl structure hell bent on immersing the listener as much as possible in the lumber and weight the band emit. Frontman Jason Kindred adds extra burl to his already-plenty-dudely approach on “Crippled Chameleon” and closer “The Longest Winter,” the latter with some harmonies to mirror those of opener “A Lucid Omega,” and the band around him — bassist Chris Carroll, drummer Derek Felix and guitarist Tommy Miller — seem to have no trouble whatsoever in keeping up, there or anywhere else on the eight-song/46-minute outing. Topped with striking cover art from Diogo SoaresBarren Dominion is deceptively nuanced and full-sounding. Not at all empty.

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Off the Record Label BigCartel store

 

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