Review & Full Album Premiere: Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

uncle woe phantomescence

[Click play above to stream Phantomescence by Uncle Woe in its entirety. Album is out Oct. 23 on Packard Black Productions.]

An undercurrent of precision pervades the inward-looking expanse of Uncle Woe‘s second full-length in less than a year, Phantomescence. The four-track release runs 40 minutes on the dot, with half comprising exactly 20 of those 40 split into two songs, one about six and a half minutes and the other over 13. As the tracks are filled out with silence at the end, it seems entirely purposeful that Phantomescence was constructed this way, though I’ll admit to not really knowing what purpose such symmetry is intended to serve. It might just be a means of exerting some control on the part of founding vocalist, guitarist, bassist and keyboardist Rain Fice — who executed late-2019’s Our Unworn Limbs (review here) completely as a solo-project — over what seems like a chaotic torrent of emotional and crunching, angular sounds.

Fice mixed, mastered and did the cover art for Phantomescence, and is credited with the majority of the writing as well, but the new collection also sees Uncle Woe beginning to expand toward a fuller lineup with the addition of drummer Nicholas Wowk. Also credited with writing on opener “Become the Ghost,” Wowk would seem to have recorded his own drum and percussion parts, which since Fice did likewise hints toward a made-in-quarantine process behind the album as a whole, but somehow that only seems fitting for the kind of aesthetic craft the duo are honing. Rawer in its overall production style than was the debut, Phantomescence pursues a similar course of grunge-infused cosmic doom, bringing a crunch reminiscent of YOB at Atma‘s most jagged (speaking of “shores”) to back howls that call up images of Layne Staley circa Alice in Chains‘ Facelift. It is a powerful combination across these songs, and it should be noted that just because the record is raw does not mean it can’t also create an atmosphere, which Phantomescence most certainly does in its overarching sense of decay that even the track titles seem to acknowledge: “Become a Ghost” and “On Laden Shores” on side A and “Lucid Degrees of Autoscopic Ruin” and “Map of Dead Stars” on side B.

Some keywords: ghost, laden, ruin, dead. These are clues to the ambience that makes Uncle Woe even heavier than simple tones ever could. That’s not to take away from the performance aspect of the songs, since “Become the Ghost” establishes early both the crushing aspects of the record to unfold and the progression Fice has undertaken as a vocalist — he is audibly more confident in his layering here with a debut behind him — but Phantomescence is more about the consuming entirety of the sound rather than the elements that comprise it; all the pieces Fice and Wowk bring to the proceedings being put to serve the expression of the album itself. Indeed, even Wowk‘s drums seem to be positioned in the mix to feed into the mood, so that they are not just about grounding Fice‘s riffs, but also adding to the tumult.

uncle woe

This can be heard as “Become the Ghost” lumbers past its midpoint, before it moves into its extended, dreamy solo and back for a massively chugging apex to finish out — the lead track essentially building the world in which the rest of what follows will take place in terrestrial and ethereal terms alike. “On Laden Shores” begins quieter and as it’s more than twice as long would of course have more space in which to flourish and unfold gradually, but maybe the more apt comparison point for “Become the Ghost” is its side B counterpart “Lucid Degrees of Autoscopic Ruin.” The title references autoscopy, which is the act of seeing through another perspective, and if that’s what’s happening across the 6:46 leadoff to the second half of Phantomescence, the feel mournful in Pallbearer-style form, but again, rawer and made Uncle Woe‘s own like the influences noted above. The emotionality on naked display is more in focus through “Lucid Degrees of Autoscopic Ruin” than anywhere else on Phantomescence, including “Become the Ghost,” but it’s the patience with which it’s delivered that most ties it to the finale in “Map of Dead Stars.”

To be sure, “On Laden Shores” caps the first half of the LP with its own vision of melancholic lumbering — and when it comes right down to it, it’s not like Our Unworn Limbs was bouncing off the walls either; these are relative degrees we’re talking about — but it becomes a question of tipping balances in Uncle Woe‘s sound. The fullness of lurch in “On Laden Shores” indeed invokes waves, and its melody carried by the vocals complements early while giving way to more guttural roars later, only to drift into silence at the end. “A Map of Dead Stars,” meanwhile, also begins with a quiet guitar figure, but follows a more patient path to its moment of surge, and much as “Become the Ghost” informs Phantomescence as a whole, so too does that opening of “A Map of Dead Stars” affect what comes after, which wants nothing for heft.

The wistful last solo, the relatively brief stretch of melodic vocals and gritty wailing and the outright pummeling march that answers it to round out “A Map of Dead Stars” — with feedback giving way to a from-the-ground-up build that pays off in noisier fashion than anything preceding — are a fitting and efficient summary of Uncle Woe‘s evolution in progress, and there is nothing to indicate that the development between their 2019 offering and this one will stop here. If anything, the work Uncle Woe put into Phantomescence reaffirms the potential of their debut while standing as an accomplished stride forward from it. As to where anything might lead, I couldn’t and wouldn’t say, but what’s happening in these songs is Uncle Woe‘s continued discovery — and Fice‘s continued discovery — and refinement of their own creative process. The individual sensibility that emerges from Phantomescence is not to be taken lightly, and neither is the movement toward a complete, stage-ready lineup of the band. Again, unclear future (to put it mildly), but such multifaceted growth is rare.

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Uncle Woe on Instagram

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

Packard Black Productions on Bandcamp

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The White Swan Post Video for Tracy Bonham Cover “Tell it to the Sky”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the white swan (Photo by Kandiss Bradley)

Ontario’s The White Swan released their Nocturnal Transmissions EP (review here) last month as their fourth short release since 2016. Prefaced by three originals of a rolling and atmospheric sludge style, the offering rounded out with a cover of “Tell it to the Sky,” originally by singer-songwriter Tracy Bonham and featured on her 1996 debut, The Burdens of Being Upright. Obvious sonic disparity between The White Swan and Bonham, but it’s fair enough ground for reinterpretation, since one can hardly argue about the solid structural foundation of the original. It’s amazing how many shapes a verse and chorus can take.

You might notice in the video for The White Swan‘s take on “Tell it to the Sky” that the band in the clip is decidedly not the band in the photo above. I’m not sure what happened between photo and video shoots to revamp the group, but you can pretty clearly see in the clip it’s a COVID-era work. Although all three members of the trio appear, don’t actually ever share the same space, and stills from the filming posted on social media include the pretty-minimal crew working with masks on and so forth. These are the times we live in. One looks forward to a great who-knows-when, at which point individuals might be able to be in the same room without worrying about “precautions” for anything other than social awkwardness.

Speaking of, in a perfect world, I’d be perfectly happy to be the weirdest dude at a The White Swan show.

Enjoy the video:

The White Swan, “Tell it to the Sky” official video

Atmospheric sludge rock unit, THE WHITE SWAN, are pleased to unveil the video accompaniment to their cover of Tracy Bonham’s “Tell It To The Sky.” The track is featured on the band’s Nocturnal Transmission EP released last month. Spearheaded by Kittie’s Mercedes Lander, alongside Kira Longeuay and Shane Jeffers (Bloodmoon Collective), Nocturnal Transmission delivers over twenty minutes of sprawling, melodic sound waves.

In December 2019, THE WHITE SWAN recorded three songs and a cover of what can only be described as love songs. Lander has penned lyrics that chronicle the joy, desire, longing, and eventual feeling of completeness that comes with a romantic relationship. From the night drives through the snow in the early days, right through to the handcrafted guitar built as a wedding gift from her now husband, the intricacies of true love permeate every moment of Nocturnal Transmission.

Describing Nocturnal Transmission as a “turning point” for the band, the album art by collage artist Caitlyn Grabenstein reflects the feeling of standing on the precipice, staring into the unknown. Acknowledging that there will always be a constant sound to THE WHITE SWAN, Lander states that their main intention is to “grow and grow.” With an ever-developing sound and a solid combination of creative musicians in their ranks, Nocturnal Transmission is the latest in what is sure to be an ever expanding back catalog of triumphs.

The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission (2020)

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The White Swan on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: Mrs. Piss, Ulcerate, Shroom Eater, Astralist, Daily Thompson, The White Swan, Dungeon Weed, Thomas V. Jäger, Cavern, Droneroom

Posted in Reviews on October 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Today is what would be the last day of the Fall 2020 Quarterly Review, except, you know, it’s not. Monday is. I know it’s been a messed up time for everybody and everything, but there’s a lot of music coming out, so if you’re craving some sense of normalcy — and hey, fair enough — it’s right there. Today’s an all-over-the-place day but there’s some killer stuff in here right from the start, so jump in and good luck.

And don’t forget — back on Monday with the last 10 records. Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery

mrs piss self surgery

If “Nobody Wants to Party with Us” as the alternately ambient/industrial-punk fuckall of that song posits, most likely that’s because they’re way too intimidated to even drop a text to invite Mrs. Piss over. The duo comprised of vocalist/guitarist Chelsea Wolfe and guitarist/bassist/drummer/programmer Jess Gowrie issue Self-Surgery as an act of sheer confrontation. The screams of “You Took Everything.” The chugging self-loathing largesse of “Knelt.” The fuzzed mania of ‘M.B.O.T.W.O.,” which, yes, stands for “Mega Babes of the Wild Order.” The unmitigated punk of “Downer Surrounded by Uppers” and the twisted careen-and-crash of the title-track. The declaration of purpose in the lines, “In the shit/I’m sacrosanct/I’m Mrs. Piss” in the eponymous closer. Rage against self, rage against other, rage and righteousness. Among the great many injustices this year has wrought, that Wolfe and Gowrie aren’t touring this material, playing 20-something-minute sets and destroying every stage they hit has to be right up there. It’s like rock and roll to disintegrate every tired dude cliché the genre has. Yes. Fuck. Do it.

Mrs. Piss on Instagram

Sargent House website

 

Ulcerate, Stare into Death and Be Still

Ulcerate Stare into Death and Be Still

As progressive/technical death metal enjoys a stylistic renaissance, New Zealand’s Ulcerate put out their sixth full-length, Stare into Death and Be Still and seem right in line with the moment despite having been around for nearly 20 years. So be it. What distinguishes Stare into Death and Be Still amid the speed-demon wizardry of a swath of other death metallers is the sense of atmosphere across the release and the fact that, while every note, every guitar squibbly, every sharpened turn the 58-minute album’s eight tracks make is important and serves a purpose, the band don’t simply rely on dry delivery to make an impression. To hear the cavernous echoes of the title-track or “Inversion” later on, Ulcerate seem willing to let some of the clarity go in favor of establishing a mood beyond extremity. In the penultimate “Drawn into the Next Void,” their doing so results in a triumphant build and consuming fade in a way that much of their genre simply couldn’t accomplish. There’s still plenty of blast to be found, but also a depth that would seem to evoke the central intention of the album. Don’t stare too long.

Ulcerate on Thee Facebooks

Debemur Morti Productions on Bandcamp

 

Shroom Eater, Ad.Inventum

shroom eater ad inventum

Nine songs running an utterly digestible 38 minutes of fuzz-riffed groove with samples, smooth tempos and an unabashed love for ’90s-style stoner rock, Shroom Eater‘s debut album, Ad.Inventum feels ripe for pickup by this or that heavy rock label for a physical release. LP, CD and tape. I know it’s tough economic times, but none of this vinyl-only stuff. The Indonesian five-piece not only have their riffs and tones and methods so well in place — that is, they’re schooled in the style they’re creating; the genre-converted preaching to the genre-converted, and nothing wrong with that — but there are flashes of burgeoning cultural point of view in the lead guitar of “God Isn’t One Eyed” or the lyrics of “Arogant” (sic) and the right-on riffed “Traffic Hunter” that fit well right alongside the skateboarding ode “Ride” or flourish of psychedelia in the rolling “Perspective” earlier on. Closing with “Dragon and Tiger” and “Friend in the High Places,” Ad.Inventum feels like the work of a band actively engaged in finding their sound and developing their take on fuzz, and the potential they show alongside their already memorable songwriting is significant.

Shroom Eater on Instagram

Shroom Eater on Bandcamp

 

Astralist, 2020 (Demo)

astralist 2020 demo

I’m not usually one to think bands should be aggrandizing their initial releases. It can be a disservice to call a demo a “debut EP” or album if it’s not, since you only get one shot at having an actual first record and sometimes a demo doesn’t represent a band’s sound as much as the actual, subsequent album does, leading to later regret. In the case of Cork, Ireland’s Astralist, it’s the opposite. 2020 (Demo) is no toss-off, recorded-in-the-rehearsal-space-to-put-something-on-Bandcamp outing. Or if it is, it doesn’t sound like it. Comprised of three massive slabs of atmospheric and sometimes-extreme doom, plus an intro, in scope and production value both, the 36-minute release carries the feel and the weight of a full-length album, earning its themes of cosmic destruction and shifting back and forth between melodic progressivism and death-doom or blackened onslaught. In “The Outlier,” “Entheogen” and “Zuhal, Rise” they establish a breadth and an immediate control thereof, and their will to cross genre lines gives their work a fervently individualized feel. Album or demo doesn’t ultimately matter, but what they say about Astralist‘s intentions does.

Astralist on Thee Facebooks

Astralist on Bandcamp

 

Daily Thompson, Oumuamua

daily thompson oumuamua

Lost in the narrative of initial singles released ahead of its actual arrival is the psychedelic reach Dortmund trio Daily Thompson bring to their fourth album, Oumuamua. Yes, “She’s So Cold” turns in its second half to a more straightforward heavy-blues-fuzz push, but the mellow unfurling that takes place at the outset continues to inform the proceedings from there, and even through “Sad Frank” (video posted here) and “On My Mind” (video posted here), and album-centerpiece “Slow Me Down,” the vibe remains affect by it. Side B has its own stretch in the 12-minute “Cosmic Cigar (Oumuamua),” and sandwiched between the three-minute stomper “Half Thompson” and the acoustic, harmonized grunge-blues closer “River of a Ghost,” it seems that what Daily Thompson held back about the LP is no less powerful than what they revealed. It’s still a party, it’s just a party where every room has something different happening.

Daily Thompson on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution website

 

The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission

The White Swan Nocturnal Transmission

Following up 2018’s Touch Taste Destroy (review here), Ontario’s The White Swan present their fourth EP in Nocturnal Transmission. That’s four EPs, in a row, from 2016-2020. If the trio — which, yes, includes Kittie‘s Mercedes Lander on vocals, drums, guitar and keys — were waiting to figure out their sound before putting out a first full-length, they were there two years ago, if not before. One is left to assume that the focus on short releases is — at least for now — an aesthetic choice. Like its predecessor, Nocturnal Transmission offers three circa-five-minute big-riffers topped with Lander‘s floating melodic vocals. The highlight here is “Purple,” and unlike any of the other The White Swan EPs, this one includes a fourth track in a cover of Tracy Bonham‘s “Tell it to the Sky,” given likewise heft and largesse. I don’t know what’s stopping this band from putting out an album, but I’ll take another EP in the meantime, sure.

The White Swan on Thee Facebooks

The White Swan on Bandcamp

 

Dungeon Weed, Mind Palace of the Mushroom God

Dungeon Weed Mind Palace of the Mushroom God

A quarantine project of Dmitri Mavra from Skunk and Slow Phase, Dungeon Weed is dug-in stoner idolatry, pure and simple. Mavra, joined by drummer Chris McGrew and backing vocalist Thia Moonbrook, metes out riff after feedback-soaked, march-ready, nod-ready, dirt-toned riff, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the doomier tolling bell of “Sorcerer with the Skull Face” or the tongue-in-cheek hook of “Beholder Gonna Fuck You Up” or the brash sludge that ensues across the aptly-named “Lumbering Hell,” all layered solos and whatnot, the important thing is that by the time “Mind Palace” comes around, you’re either out or you’re in, and once you make that choice there’s no going back on it. Opener “Orcus Immortalis/Vox Mysterium” tells the tale (or part of it, as regards the overarching narrative), and if ever there was a band that could and would make a song called “Black Pudding” sound heavy, well, there’s Dungeon Weed for you. Dungeon Weed, man. Don’t overthink it.

Dungeon Weed on Thee Facebooks

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Thomas V. Jäger, A Solitary Plan

thomas v jager a solitary plan

The challenge of rendering songcraft in the nude can be a daunting one for someone in a heavy band doing a solo/acoustic release, but it’s a challenge Thomas V. Jäger of Monolord meets with ease on the home-recorded A Solitary Plan, his solo debut. Those familiar with his work in Monolord will recognize some of the effects used on his vocals, but in the much, much quieter context of the seven-song/29-minute solo release — Jäger plays everything except the Mellotron on the leadoff title-track — they lend not only a spaciousness but a feeling of acid folk serenity to “Creature of the Deep” and “It’s Alright,” which follows. Mixed/mastered by Kalle Lilja of Långfinger, A Solitary Plan is ultimately an exploration on Jäger‘s part of working in this form, but it succeeds in both its most minimal stretches and in the electric-inclusive “The Drone” and “Goodbye” ahead of the buzzing synth-laced closer “The Bitter End.” It would be a surprise if this is the only solo release Jäger ever does, since so much of what takes place throughout feels like a foundation for future work.

Thomas V. Jäger on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

 

Cavern, Powdered

CAVERN POWDERED

Change has been the modus operandi of Cavern for a while now. They still show some semblance of their post-hardcore roots on their new full-length, Powdered, but having brought in bassist/vocalist Rose Heater in 2018 and sometime between then and now let out of Baltimore for Morgantown, West Virginia, their sonic allegiance to a heavier-ended post-rock comes through more than ever before. Guitarist/synthesist Zach Harkins winds lead lines around Heater‘s bass on “Grey,” and Stephen Schrock‘s drums emphasize tension to coincide, but the fluidity across the 24-minute LP is of a kind that’s genuinely new to the band, and the soul in Heater‘s vocals carries the material to someplace else entirely. A song like “Dove” presents a tonal fullness that the title-track seems just to hint at, but the emphasis here is on dynamic, not on doing one thing only or locking their approach into a single mindset. As Heater‘s debut with them, Powdered finds them refreshed and renewed of purpose.

Cavern on Thee Facebooks

Cavern on Bandcamp

 

Droneroom, …The Other Doesn’t

droneroom the other doesnt

Droneroom is the solo vehicle of guitarist Blake Edward Conley and with …The Other Doesn’t, experiments of varying length and degree of severity are brought to bear. The abiding feel is spacious, lonely and cinematic as one might expect for such guitar-based soundscaping, but “Casual-Lethal Narcissism” and “The Last Time Someone Speaks Your Name” do have some measure of peace to go with their foreboding and troubling atmospherics. An obvious focal point is the 15-minute dronefest “This Circle of Ribs,” which feels more forward and striking than someone of Droneroom‘s surrounding material, but it’s all on a relative scale, and across the board Conley remains a safe social distance away from structural traditionalist. Recorded during Summer 2020, it is an album that conveys the anxiety and paranoia of this year, and while that can be a daunting thing to face in such a way or to let oneself really engage with as a listener — shit, it’s hard enough just living through — one of the functions of good art is to challenge perceptions of what it can be. Worth keeping in mind for “Home Can Be a Frightening Place.”

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Humanhood Recordings on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Sons of Otis, Isolation

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Otis Isolation

[Click play above to stream ‘Blood Moon’ from Sons of Otis’ Isolation. Album is out Oct. 16 on Totem Cat Records. Preorders here.]

Like a great gurgling prehistoric beast lumbering and howling on the horizon, Toronto’s Sons of Otis return with six new songs bundled together and issued through Totem Cat Records as Isolation. Once exiles from the dissolution of Man’s Ruin Records, the Canadian trio offer blissful obliteration as an escape from the rigors of our age, and the looming threat they represent sonically comes to fruition across the righteously primitive 43 minutes the album runs. It’s been eight years since Sons of Otis — guitarist/vocalist Ken Baluke, bassist Frank Sargeant and drummer Ryan Aubin — put out 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) as their third offering through Small Stone behind 2009’s Exiled (review here) and 2005’s X.

2018 saw the release of the limited live album, Live in Den Bosch (discussed here), as a beginning of the band’s relationship with Totem Cat that has also included reissues of their 1994 Paid to Suffer debut EP and follow-up debut LP, 1996’s Spacejumbofudge (discussed here), and Concrete Lo-Fi also backed a reissue of 2001’s Songs for Worship in 2017, but a dearth of new Sons of Otis has been a notable absence. Perhaps all the more because in the years since Seismic, a new generation of listeners has emerged hungry for precisely the kind of largesse of groove the band has so long had on offer. Add to that the automatic cred their years give them — Sons of Otis outlived grunge and they’ll outlive you too — and all the makings of well-earned weedian cult plaudits would seem to be in place.

Their methodology, long established, is not messed with on IsolationBaluke‘s throaty vocals — more “mucus” than “sludge” — echo up from a hazy nod of riff while languid pacing evokes doomed vibes. They might be doomed. We might all be doomed. The difference is they don’t care, and across the two sides of the LP, from the inward dive and purposeful beginning that the record gets with “Hopeless” to the plodding repurpose of Black Sabbath‘s “Black Sabbath” that is “Blood Moon,” they absolutely prove it.

And just who on or beyond earth could get away with brazenly, recognizably putting to use that most landmark of genre-making riffs? Well, Sons of Otis and pretty much nobody. As in the past they’ve donned works by Saint Vitus and Funkadelic, they inextricably make “Blood Moon” their own, and if you’re not on board with wherever they want to go by the time that song opens side B, you should probably just punch out. “Hopeless,” “JJ” (no relation) and “Trust” comprise the first half of Isolation and they are a willful slog through a mire of distortion, Baluke and Sargeant‘s tones a wash of low-end air-push, Aubin‘s toms an accompanying thud as Baluke intones, “Free my soul,” on the opener, soon enough to follow by referencing “Amazing Grace” in “JJ.”

None of the first three tracks touches nine minutes long, but the level of submersion Sons of Otis offer in their material is unmistakable. As an initial salvo, “Hopeless” and “JJ” are crawlingly slow — maybe anguished, but not entirely beaten down — and relentless in their paean to the riffs themselves. This may well be the band raising their collective hand to testify to the glory of their own process, and if so, it’s fairly enough earned, and the watch-your-brain-melt-because-yes-you-can-see-it effect on the listener is palpable.

At once huge and obfuscated, these first moments of Isolation play out as a single morass, and while “Trust” — shorter at 6:24 — ups the tempo to some degree in order to highlight its funkier wah riff, by then the record is more than 16 minutes deep into its run and, the vibe is set. One sincerely doubts the band would have it any other way, and if they did, would they still be Sons of Otis? I don’t know. But consider acts like Electric Wizard, Weedeater or Bongzilla — the latter two harsher vocally but all with well-known sounds. With any prior experience as a listener, you have a sense of what’s coming from a new release. Sons of Otis‘ sound operates in a similar fashion, but Isolation isn’t redundant either in the years it’s been since the band’s preceding album or on the level of its own songs.

sons of otis

Or rather, if it’s redundant, it’s gloriously redundant.

“Blood Moon” leads off Isolation‘s second half, as noted, and is followed by the LP’s two shortest tracks in “Ghost” and the closing instrumental wash that is “Theme II,” both on either side of six minutes long. In delivering to expectation, Sons of Otis nonetheless surpass it. After the thunderstomp that is “Blood Moon,” “Ghost” functions with a similar sense of repetitiveness, but more than any of the other tracks seems to put Aubin in the lead position. His drums start the song with two slow stick-clicks, and then even as the bass and guitar lurch to life, it’s the round-and-round-we-go tom fills that most distinguish the penultimate track.

A tension set early is never really released, and as drawling spaciousness surrounds, the feeling is almost one of sensory overload. It’s the moment when Isolation most comes across like it’s going to swallow you entirely, and even when it seems like that tension is being released, it’s really just moving to another stage. Sandwiched between “Blood Moon” and “Theme II,” it is in just the right position for what it presents, and as it leaves off with noise and lets the thud and rumble of the closer — an apparent sequel to the well-feedbacked “Theme” from Spacejumbofudge — the roiling completeness of Isolation is hard to miss.

This is Sons of Otis in full-album mode, and if “Theme II” is half a song topped with noise, a more fitting summation of the fuckall represented throughout the LP preceding it is hard to imagine. A cymbal wash and residual rumble fades out at the close, and all that’s left is the hungover sense of reality-departure from which one is somewhat cruelly returned. Put your head in it — or maybe put it in your head via those fancy earbuds you’ve got there — and Isolation might just stretch you out for years. My advice is to let it do so. One never knows when the follow-up might be coming.

Sons of Otis, Isolation (2020)

Sons of Otis on Thee Facebooks

Sons of Otis on Bandcamp

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Totem Cat Records on Instagram

Totem Cat Records webstore

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Handsome Pants Premiere New Single “Rut”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

handsome pants

Canadian heavy rock newcomers Handsome Pants have a show booked for Oct. 3. Any other year, ‘Band Has Show in Ontario’ probably wouldn’t qualify as newsworthy on its own, but as you know, this isn’t any other year. So yeah. Oct. 3, at The 765 in London, ON, they’ll be playing. The band, formed by vocalist/guitarist Andrew Bateman, and the presumably-brothers rhythm section of bassist Jordan Nodwell and Kyle Nodwell after the dissolution of their prior outfit The Rapscallions, made their first audio public earlier this year in the form of the single “Turgid.”

It’s at the bottom of the post if you don’t feel like clicking through to chase it down on their Bandcamp, but with the newer track premiering below, called simply “Rut,” they bring something of a different look, playing off experimental-feeling twisted harmonica via Handsome Pants‘ non-Rapscallion member, Chuck Smith, as well as a languid bluesy groove, a subtle hook and vocal interplay that works well to add depth to the proceedings. I ain’t gonna lie, the fact that they swiped the Hot Wheels logo doesn’t hurt either in terms of catching the eye — lotta monster trucks around my house these days, with the toddler and all — but it was ultimately the cleverness of the song itself that won me over. I’ll spare you the “one to watch” cliché, but the song’s cool, and hell, you’ve got time. Don’t pretend like you don’t.

Their plans? How should I know, and who would even bother with plans at this point of planetary down-the-drainitude? They’ve got a show! They’ve got a new single! I fail to see what more you could possibly ask.

Song’s right below, PR wire announcement follows.

Enjoy:

Handsome Pants, “Rut” official premiere

Handsome Pants is the kind of band that shows up to a gig dressed haphazardly in mismatched Value Village clothes they picked out for each other. The kind of band that doesn’t take themselves seriously just wants to rock out and have a good time with their fans. Handsome Pants proves fun does not be sacrificed to make lively, highly creative music.

Loud and obnoxious is the name of the game for Handsome Pants and the rambunctious uniqueness really shines through with their new single, “Rut” which follows a concept that a lot of people are familiar with. The feeling of being stuck in a rut and turning to alcohol. The band explains the single in more depth:

“Rut is the second release in our early existence as a band. This song is something Andrew has been sitting on for a long time and rewriting lyrics. Finally finding the right content and lyrics putting it together at this time seems perfect. It seems to relate to a lot of people right now and what they are going through with the pandemic and everything else happening right now.”

The most mainstream track the band has to date still holds on to its originality with the layered vocals and prominent harmonica.

“Rut” is suitable for all kinds of rock radio, it’s punchy and tight, for fans of Royal Blood, Highly Suspect, and Clutch, Handsome Pants is just getting started and anticipates more music coming down the pipe.

Handsome Pants are:
Andrew Bateman – Lead Vocals and Guitar
Jordan Nodwell- Lead Bass
Kyle Nodwell- Drums
Chuck Smith- Harmonica

Handsome Pants, “Turgid”

Handsome Pants on Thee Facebooks

Handsome Pants on Instagram

Handsome Pants on Bandcamp

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Uncle Woe Set Oct. 23 Release for Phantomescence; Streaming “Become the Ghost”

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Heads up on this one. I know plenty of people caught onto Uncle Woe with the first record, late-2019’s Our Unworn Limbs (review here), but if you didn’t, the second one, called Phantomescence, pushes even further out in terms of what that offering accomplished in terms of style, bringing down-in-a-hole grunge melody to a backdrop of lumbering cosmic doom. I’ve only had occasion to go through it once, but the progression is evident even in the structure offsetting longer tracks with shorter ones, and there is a clearer sense of purpose throughout.

I’ll have a review up of Phantomescence hopefully ahead of the release date, but the opening track is streaming now. Hail Canadian heavy, and no, I’m not just saying that because I plan to apply for asylum there.

Again, heads up. Here’s PR wire info:

uncle woe phantomescence

Mournful And Meandering, Canada’s Uncle Woe Reveal Second Album “Phantomescence”

Canada’s Uncle Woe brings you a contemplative, progressive doom album “Phantomescence” that was completely conceived and recorded in pandemic induced isolation. The opening track/lead single, “Become The Ghost” is a meandering exploration of death and dreams.

“Phantomescence” deviates from the first Uncle Woe album as the band moves forward from a solo studio project. It is an easily digestible, logical next step in the band’s evolution; elements, which made the first LP, “Our Unworn Limbs”, engaging and intriguing are present again on this offering; expanded upon, polished, and moderately better produced. The new album deals with death in a much broader and less personal sense, and also contains a lot of abstract, dream sequence type elements.

Currently, as a two-piece, Rain Fice and Nicholas Wowk worked on their parts separately, shared them online and managed to pull off the second album from the band. Fice details the intricacies of the single:

“Become The Ghost is almost relentless in its forward, mid-tempo, stomping march. The first chorus comes as a very small, simple 3/4 breather, in the midst of the opening/verse riff’s endless churning and revolving 11/4 and 15/4 riff. The vocals throughout are rough, and finally build to a scream in that last, closing verse. After the death of someone very near to me, I remember a feeling of loss so great that it seemed that even though THEY had died, I was the one who became a ghost if that makes sense; a ghost, or shadow, or shell.”

Many chugging, bludgeoning passages are offset by expansive and contemplative, subdued, almost post-rock soundscapes, making Uncle Woe suitable for fans of Yob, Chrome Ghost and Deftones.

The full album “Phantomescence” is due out October 23rd via Packard Black Productions and available for digital, CD and vinyl pre-order HERE: https://unclewoe.bandcamp.com/album/phantomescence

Track Listing:
1. Become The Ghost (6:29)
2. On Laden Shores (13:30)
3. Lucid Degrees of Autoscopic Ruin (6:45)
4. A Map of Dead Stars (13:14)
EP Length: 40:00

Album Credits:
• All songs performed by: Rain Fice/Nicholas Wowk
• All songs written by: Rain Fice *Become the Ghost by Fice/Wowk
• Produced by: Rain Fice/Nicholas Wowk
• Mixed by: Rain Fice
• Mastered by: Rain Fice
• Album Artwork by: Rain Fice
• Canadian Content (MAPL)

EP Recording Band Line Up:
Rain Fice – Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Nicholas Wowk – Drums/Percussion

Facebook.com/unclewoe
Instagram.com/unclewoedoom
https://unclewoe.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/packardblackproductions
https://packardblack.bandcamp.com/
https://www.packardblack.com/

Uncle Woe, Phantomescence (2020)

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Sons of Otis Announce Isolation out Oct. 16; New Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

sons of otis

Look. It’s not that I go around thinking a band like Sons of Otis are about to write a song that’s actually about me in any way, shape or form. That’s not the case. But it’s not like “JJ” is a common name, so yeah, when I see a song with that as the title, of course I’m curious to now what’s up. If your name is something goofy and specific, maybe you’ve experienced the same thing. So yes, I asked Sons of Otis about where the song comes from, and indeed, not in any way, shape or form about me. Probably for the best. Different “JJ” entirely.

“Blood Moon,” however, totally about me. It’s the oddest thing.

No, of course not.

Anyway, for those of you playing at home, it’s been eight friggin’ years since Sons of Otis offered 2012’s Seismic (review here) for public consumption through Small Stone. Isolation finds them well at home on Totem Cat Records with an Oct. 16 release date, and mark your calendar for it, because I’m not saying I’ve heard the record or anything, but yes I have and it’s R-I-F-F-S like your mama used to bake.

Announcement from the PR wire:

Sons of Otis Isolation

Doom blues stalwarts SONS OF OTIS return with new full-length ‘Isolation’ on Totem Cat Records; first track streaming now!

Toronto’s doom blues legends SONS OF OTIS return from their smoke-filled lands with their first studio album since 2012. ‘Isolation’ will be released on October 16th via Totem Cat Records, and you can stream its crushing first single “Ghost” right now!

From the vast Northern land known as Canada comes an enormous sound: the sound of SONS OF OTIS. Gargantuan, rumbling like the innards of Earth, the trio has been pushing aside entire star systems in its unstoppable path since 1993. Their last studio offering ‘Seismic’ was released in 2012 on Small Stone Records, followed by an extra limited ‘Live In Den Bosch’ album in 2018. Standing strong as ever on their veterans feet, their new album ‘Isolation’ delivers the heaviest stoner doom ever known to man, reminding fans and heavy lovers across the globe of the potency of the trio’s signature fuzz and über-stoned grooves.

‘Isolation’ will be issued on October 16th, 2020 on vinyl, CD and digital through Totem Cat Records, and available to preorder from September 14th, 2020 at this location: https://totemcatrecords.bandcamp.com/album/isolation

SONS OF OTIS New album ‘Isolation’
Out October 16th on Totem Cat Records
on vinyl, CD and digital

TRACK LISTING:
1. Hopeless
2. JJ
3. Trust
4. Blood Moon
5. Ghost
6. Theme II

SONS OF OTIS IS
Ken Baluke – Guitars, Vocals
Frank Sargeant – Bass
Ryan Aubin – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofotis/
https://sonsofotis.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/totemcatrecords/
https://www.instagram.com/totemcatrecords/
http://totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/

Sons of Otis, Isolation (2020)

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IRN Release Self-Titled Cassette EP on Breathe Plastic Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

What I know about Toronto, Ontario’s IRN you could just about fit in your left shoe — open-toed, because all knowledge that goes into my brain subsequently leaks out from it — but I know their new self-titled two-song EP sounds absolutely F-I-L-T-H-Y, and I know it’s out on tape now through cassette cultists Breathe Plastic, so not nothing at all. The tracks should appeal to anyone who’s worshiped at the altar of Thou‘s atmosphere-via-skin-peel scathe, and the rawness is especially primal and especially satisfying for that. It’s good to know that as the heavy underground floods with neo-progressive rock bands and psychedelic whatnot (nothing against either), there’s an equal and opposite reaction of sheer wretchedness taking place concurrently. They play both kinds of sludge: brutal and unsettling.

I’m sure you’re already hip to them, because you’re like that, but they’ve been around since 2012, and if you’re feeling brave, their Bandcamp is linked below, as is that of Breathe Plastic, whose announcement follows:

irn irn

Formed in Toronto in 2012 with the idea of creating diseased & brooding music, IRN have been actively releasing material since their formation and have toured Canada extensively.

Their new EP consists of two songs, just shy of 23 minutes. Its atmosphere is set from the second it starts and does not let go until the bitter end. Although IRN can be described as being influenced by Noothgrush, Corrupted, Iron Monkey & Grief, they take an extra step in sculpting their anxieties, making this EP, much like their previous releases, a uniquely sounding piece of miserable music.

For lovers of both 90s sludge and fans of “the new shape of sludge that came”.

EP is due July 1st. Tapes by Breathe Plastic, tapes come in a white slipcase, with hotfoil printing. First 15 orders receive an IRN patch

LP via Rope or Guillotine (Europe), Bad Moon Rising ???? (Asia) & Craniophagus Parasiticus (North America) and will be rendered in 140g black vinyl, with amazing artwork by Yannis Panos.

Tracklisting:
1. Blood Seeping From Your Eyes 10:45
2. Forever Miserable 11:41

https://www.facebook.com/IRNDOOM
https://www.instagram.com/irndoom/
https://ir-n.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/breatheplastic
https://breatheplastic.bandcamp.com/
https://tapes.breathe-plastic.org/

Irn, Irn (2020)

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