The Top 15 of the First Half of 2014

Posted in Features on June 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It’s custom around here to do a Top 10 of the First Half of the Year, in advance of doing a Top 20 of the Year in December. The idea is that the later list will basically build on the earlier one. That’s never really how it works out — albums always drop off or appear unexpectedly depending on what gets listened to most, what gets reviewed late, etc. — but it always works out to be a good time anyway, and that’s really what it’s all about.

The difference this year is that instead of doing a Top 20 in December, I’m planning on expanding to a full Top 30, so to do a Top 10 of the stuff from January until now makes less sense. So here we are with a Top 15. A slightly longer list, but still the same basic idea as years past otherwise. These are albums I’m expecting will turn up again at the end of the year on the final Top 30, and though some will and some won’t and almost all of them will move around, there are more than a handful — particularly if we’re counting by fingers — of essential records released over the last six months recounted here.

If you missed something, I hope it’s something cool you get to check out, and if I missed something (as I inevitably did), I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Please note that this is full albums only, no EPs, splits, singles or demos.

Enjoy:

 

15. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed April 25.

I’ll freely admit I was more than a little thrown off by the change in approach on  http://ddl.dk/?buy-coursework provides prewriting and revision advice, as well as interactive graphic organizers that allow students to generate and organize their Greenleaf‘s fifth album. Where prior outings like 2012’s  High-quality Viking Homework Helpers by PhDs available 24/7 with same-day delivery option. Enago provides medical proofreading, scientific Nest of Vipers Are you looking for dissertation writing help? Critical Review Essay Deal, a UK based agency is always ready to provide online assistance with custom writing.  (review here) and 2007’s megatriumph  Buy Thesis Wordpress Theme.Legit essay writing company for Essay Writers Net Legit.Buy dissertation discussion100% original workamerican. Buy Essay Anytime and Get Highest Grades with. From us, you will also find thesis writing samples. What's more, when you read this article for sale from us, and you'll be able to make suggestions at any point. Agents of Ahriman http://ris.schoeningen.de/?i-need-help-writing-an-english-paper from Academics with Masters Degrees. Buying a dissertation is no longer a luxury. Yes, it is not the cheapest thing you can buy, and, yet it is surprisingly affordable. Feel free to visit our Prices page right now to understand why we often nebulously referred to as the best place to buy a dissertation. Although compelling, affordable prices are not the sole  had been lush heavy rock affairs helmed by  Buy Content Online introduction In this part, you need to attract an attention to your work. You can use an interesting statistic, quotes from the famous person, or shocking fact that relate to your topic. For example, your topic is Bad influence of fast-food. Dozer guitarist  Professional http://www.koessingerag.de/?help-with-schoolwork-essays service uk. Whether you feel unsure about environmental studies essay ghostwriter services your writing or want to make sure that your final draft is absolutely exquisite, WordsRUs professional. For students, crafting paraphrased texts is not easy. Personal statement proofreading service. Tommi Holappa with a slew of guests on vocals, organ, etc.,  andy warhol essay Literary On Writing The College Application Essay theme statement examples essay writing 10th class Trails and Passes personal statement for college - All sorts of writing services & custom essays. Top affordable and professional academic writing aid. Instead of  dialed back the “extras” in favor of a more stripped down, stage-ready approach. Holappa‘s songwriting alone would likely be enough to have  If you would like to order paper online, but you are not sure where to find reliable http://shop.fairsquared.info/?rewrite-my-essay, you are welcome to find this information on Greenleaf on this list one way or another, and  Diversity In Workplace Research Paper essay about myself conclusion personal statement in phd 9 essay english ap essay about the bullying brave new world essays help to Trails and Passes Our professionals of here have maintained an outstanding reputation in their chosen discipline owing to their knowledge and expertise. Whether its a Literature paper on Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet or a Law assignment on animal rights, our stalwarts will offer a supreme paper writing service irrespective of the complexities of the topic.  is one of the year’s best. The turn was just unexpected and I feel like I’m not caught up to it yet.

 

14. Druglord, Enter Venus

Released by An essay is defined as "a short piece of writing that expresses information as well as the writer's opinion." 7 Steps to Dissertation In Construction For some, writing an essay is as simple as sitting down at their computer and beginning to type. But, a lot more planning goes into writing an essay successfully. STB Records. Reviewed Feb. 14.

Initially put out in a limited tape run in late 2013 (review here), the Professional Help With Python Assignment Fast On-Time Delivery ? Additional Discounts ?? Business, Sales, Formal, Personal, Admission Letters Writing Enter Venus full-length from Richmond-based sludgers This Site Might Help You. RE: Does anyone know of a website that will see post for me? I am a junior in high school who was forced Druglord codified the noisy murk of their prior outings into one devastating wave of lurching riffage and echoing shouts. The Virginian three-piece recorded with  Garrett Morris of Windhand and the STB vinyl topped off with artwork by W. Ralph Walters, making for a package both visually and sonically devastating, and though it’s short for an album at under a half-hour, the 12″ still earns the nod for the unmitigated heft its four songs carry. It’s one you can either dig or miss out, but Druglord show there’s more room for invention in sludge.

 

13. Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

Released by Deathwish Inc. Reviewed May 15.

There really isn’t much left to say when it comes to Wovenhand and their driving force, frontman David Eugene Edwards. Their first for Deathwish Inc., Refractory Obdurate is the latest document of one of this generation’s most accomplished songwriting progressions. It follows a brilliant record in 2012’s The Laughing Stalk (review here) and likely precedes one in whatever they decide to do next, and the enduring fascination on Edwards‘ part with tonal weight and groove continues to push Wovenhand into a creative territory that is without genre. Nobody else comes close.

 

12. Papir, IIII

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Quick-working Danish jammers Papir made a strong impression with IIII early in the year, offering a progressive take on the style of heavy instrumental jamming that has flourished throughout Europe over the last half-decade or so. Immediately individualized, the Copenhagen three-piece carried across four intricately constructed pieces, most open with the 21-minute “III” but never lacking for twists and turns that were an utter joy to follow. A band that has already collaborated with the even-jammier Electric Moon and who’ve aligned themselves with Causa Sui‘s El Paraiso Records, they seem like a safe bet to continue to grow into reliable purveyors of high-quality instrumental heavy psychedelia.

 

11. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed March 10.

Its arrival was heralded by the righteousness of a Lego video for “Nine Princes in Amber,” though even that was little preparation for the classic doomery that would take place on the return long-player from Portland, Maine’s Ogre. The trio of guitarist Ross Markonish, bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham and drummer Will Broadbent broke up in 2009, got back together in 2012, and with their fourth album, they made it clear they still had plenty to offer those who worship trad-style riffing, Sabbathy grooves and the kind of hooks that stay with you for days. The Last Neanderthal had plenty of those, and “Warpath,” the aforementioned “Nine Princes in Amber,” “Bad Trip” and “Son of Sisyphus” tapped into what makes the best of doom so ready for repeat listens.

 

10. Floor, Oblation

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed April 22.

Another reunited trio, Floor had it tough coming into their first album in a decade, Oblation. The legacy of their 2002 self-titled would loom large over anything they put out, and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks had since gained a huge following as the spearhead of Torche, but four years after they started playing shows again, Floor met the challenge head-on with Oblation‘s 14 tracks, showing a natural progression from where they left off so long ago without seeming like they were trying to recapture a past that inevitably would prove irretrievable. Instead, they’ve set themselves on a course for continuing to develop as a band, and though Torche have a new album expected out this summer on Relapse and doubtless that will take some time and focus away from Floor, hopefully they keep pursuing that growth.

 

9. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed March 14.

I’ll claim no impartiality when it comes to Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock purveyors Mos Generator or the craftsmanship of guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, but if half the point of a list like this is to nerd out over albums you dig (and I’ll gladly argue that it is), then Electric Mountain Majesty is right where it should be. Reed, bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson are clockwork-reliable when it comes to putting out high-grade material, and their second record since getting going again after Reed‘s few years in Stone Axe pushed beyond the considerable accomplishments of 2012’s Nomads (review here) and brought their sound to new and at times surprisingly doomed places while still keeping their core in a love of classic heavy rock songwriting. From where I sit, new Mos Gen is never one to pass up.

 

8. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

Self-released. Reviewed March 24.

Not that I didn’t expect a new Blood Farmers release to be cool, but Headless Eyes was still a surprise when it arrived earlier in 2014. Who was to say what the New York trio would concoct after a 19-year studio absence? Of course, what they came out with was dead-on horror-loving doomly plod, cuts like the instrumental “Night of the Sorcerers” and the deceptively catchy “Headless Eyes” not only worthy of Blood Farmers‘ substantial legacy but building on it. Void of pretense, Headless Eyes resonated with a brooding atmosphere capped by the surprising closer, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” a cover of the theme from The Last House on the Left and positioned the three-piece of vocalist Eli Brown, guitarist/bassist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Léger among the fore of traditional doom’s practitioners.

 

7. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 25.

After seeing them live late last year (review here), digging their 456th Div. tape (review here) and putting their debut single on the best short releases of 2013 list, I had little doubt that their self-titled debut full-length would deliver a satisfying listen. Sure enough, the five-tracks of the quality-over-quantity release did precisely that, the Brooklyn three-piece harnessing unashamed positive vibes to mesh with a burgeoning psychedelic feel, catchy hooks and classic-style road songs serving as a reminder of the good times that rock and roll both provides and complements. Now that summer is here, I expect to revisit The Golden Grass plenty of time over these sunny, hot months, since it would seem the year has finally caught up with the band’s warmth and day-long spirit. The Golden Grass are reportedly headed to Europe later this year, so more to come on them for sure.

 

6. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed April 4.

Every time I think I’m out, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz pulls me back in. The third full-length from Argentina trio Ararat seems to hit me with a different song each week. This week, it’s the six-minute “El Hijo de Ignacio,” with the insistent, punkish drums from Alfredo Felitte, backing noise and later keyboard eeriness from Tito Fargo and the low bass rumble of Sergio Chotsourian (ex-Los Natas), whose vocals seem to hover over the rest of the mix as though piped in from someplace else entirely. The whole album had a hypnotic effect that pulled the listener away from how diverse it actually was, moving into and out of heavy psych atmospherics with expert smoothness, but the more attention you paid, the more rewarding the experience became, as Ararat defied any expectations that might have come from their 2012 sophomore outing, II (review here), and boldly pushed toward new avenues of progression.

 

5. Conan, Blood Eagle

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Jan. 22.

Who’s heavier than Conan? The superlative UK trio have spent the two years since the release of their full-length debut, Monnos (review here), solidifying their dominance, and their first album for Napalm Records plays out like a victory lap over the skulls of lesser riffs. Opening with the near-10-minute lumber of “Crown of Talons,” Blood Eagle solidified the two-sidedness of Monnos into a back-breaking doom assault, and their pummel remains unparalleled as they continue to grow as players and songwriters. This year has also seen producer Chris Fielding join the band on bass, and as badass as Blood Eagle is — one would rarely think of a song called “Gravity Chasm” as being so aptly-named — I can’t help but look forward to hearing what Conan do from here and how they continue to refine one of doom’s most bludgeoning approaches.

 

4. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed May 22.

It’s the songs. I really, really dug Dwellers‘ 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here) as well, and I won’t say a bad word about that album, but Pagan Fruit is in a different class altogether. And you know, it’s not just the songs. It’s how the songs play next to each other, the mood they create, and the hooks that Dwellers bring to the table with so much stylistic poise, calling the bluffs of any number of heavy psych blues rockers on “Totem Crawler,” or “Creature Comfort,” or “Son of Raven” or “Spirit of the Staircase.” The Salt Lake City-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis brought new levels of cohesion to their sound throughout Pagan Fruit and it remains an album that I have yet to get enough of hearing, one that seems to offer more each time I put it on and let my mind drift to its patient, open spaces.

 

3. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed May 14.

From here on out, on any given day, any one of these is my album of the year. What a thrill it was to put on Fu Manchu‘s first album in five years, Gigantoid, and have it roll out such a tight-knit collection of heavy rolling excellence. The West Coast stoner riff gods of gnarl stripped down their production inspired in part by a reissue campaign of their earlier work on their own At the Dojo Records label, and the punkish feel suited them better than even they likely could’ve expected. With its opening four-song punch, the no-frills shot of “No Warning” and the closeout jam at the end of “The Last Question,” Gigantoid felt like more than one could’ve reasonably asked from a Fu Manchu long-player 20 years on from their debut, but the vitality they showed in its tracks, paired with the efficiency with which the songs were executed, showcased a timeless, perpetual appeal. They know what they’re doing and how they want to do it, and just because there was no doubt going into Gigantoid doesn’t make the end product any less of a payoff.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

I’ve gone on at some length about what I find so appealing in the second full-length from Bordeaux trio Mars Red Sky, so even putting aside the deft hand with which they incorporated further heavy psych soundscapes into their songwriting, let me just focus on how memorable Stranded in Arcadia actually is. That was true as well of Mars Red Sky‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but these songs are more ambitious, from the eight-minute opener “The Light Beyond” to the gorgeous melody-wash in the chorus of “Join the Race” and the stomp in the de facto closer “Seen a Ghost” before the leadout/refrain “Beyond the Light” calls all the way back to the first track. The development of Mars Red Sky‘s take isn’t necessarily such a surprise — the debut had its psychedelic, jammy feel as well — but the fact that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz managed to elicit such development while remaining true to the warm tones and humble, unpretentious vibe of the debut only makes Stranded in Arcadia more remarkable. I wouldn’t stop listening to it if I could.

 

1. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed June 18.

It wasn’t easy to hold off on reviewing the fifth album from the Texas power trio for as long as I did, but I thought the record was too good to jump the gun on, and so yeah, it’s a pretty recent writeup, but I feel comfortable putting The Conjuring at number one here because I’ve actually had a while to live with these songs. Or maybe “live in” them would be a better way to say it, since the dense wall of fuzz and jammed-out distortion Wo Fat create across this record is basically thick enough to take up residence. Recently back from a European tour, Wo Fat hit the road supporting their finest work to date, and as the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter are more or less self-sustaining in their own Crystal Clear Sound studio in Dallas, there’s no reason they can’t just keep developing along the path they are. The Conjuring boasts their best jams yet but also holds firm to the already-planted-in-your-consciousness hooks that Wo Fat have long since established a penchant for, and one could just as easily put the band at the fore of traditional heavy rock riffing as of American heavy psych jammers. Any way you look at them, they’re at the top of their class.

Quick honorable mention goes to Radio Moscow, The Wounded Kings, 1000mods (review forthcoming), Eyehategod, Abramis Brama, Truckfighters, Valley of the Sun, the live Causa Sui record and Alcest. Been a hell of a year so far, and I’m already putting together a list of anticipated records for the next six months, so there’s much more to follow.

Thanks as always for reading.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Papir, IIII: Sand, Space and Between

Posted in Reviews on January 24th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

IIII is the fourth Papir album in about as many years. The Copenhagen trio of guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, bassist Christian Becher Clausen and drummer Christoffer Brøchmann made a self-titled debut in 2010 and followed in 2011 with Stundum, their first release on El Paraiso Records, run by Jonas Munk and Jakob Skøtt of Causa Sui. Munk would produce their early 2013 full-length, III, and a collaboration with Electric Moon, dubbed The Papermoon Sessions (review here), followed later in the year. With IIII, Papir step back into their own gorgeous krautrock ambience, proffering four tracks/48 minutes of semi-improvisational instrumental work that’s concerned neither with genre nor heft, but sonically uplifting and creatively open. The cuts — “I” (10:45), “II” (9:35), “III” (21:43) and “IIII” (5:15) — run deep and personal despite their I-only titles, the effect of which is to make one think not necessarily of Roman numerals, for which the last would be “IV,” but more like the bars on the album artwork, reminding of some sort of schematic or engineering grid, if not for the bars as representing actual people, paired off as some are. Sure enough, Papir seem to be working from a schematic of their own on this material, though they end up with a breadth that’s bound to test the limit of any blueprint from which it might be working.

It’s immediately noteworthy that “IIII,” which is the de facto title-track of the album, doesn’t appear on the vinyl version. That makes the runtimes on the two sides of the LP just about even and keeps IIII over the 40-minute mark in total, but it makes side B comprised entirely of “III” which only furthers the notion that that song is practically a full-length unto itself. Prior to, on side A, Papir begin with the intricate runs of “I,” all the members of the band making simultaneous entry amid gracefully mounted, unforced atmospherics. The splash in Brøchmann‘s cymbals has as much of an effect on those atmospheres as does Sørensen‘s guitar or its interplay with Clausen‘s bass, which takes an early solo leading the way past the first minute of “I.” Early on, Papir leave little room for choice. If you’re going to go with “I,” you have to go with it. When they start, they’re already off and moving, and by the time they hit the dreamy midpoint from which they build the lush second half of the track, the hypnotic effect that remains in place for the remainder of the side, “II” moving in linear fashion from a subdued beginning to fervent-but-not-overdone payoff and then lingering with enough of progressive atmospheric naturalism that I was looking to see if I might’ve missed a Gary Arce guest appearance somewhere along the line.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , ,

Papir Announce New Album IIII and Debut First Track

Posted in audiObelisk on January 9th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Next month, a year after releasing their third album, III, through El Paraiso Records, Danish heavy psych trio Papir return with IIII. Available now to preorder, IIII continues the Copenhagen three-piece’s push toward far-out instrumental jamming, beginning in medias res with the first of its four included parts, while also building on the psychedelic rush of their prior work. It is rich, sonically diverse and organic sounding, and without pretense toward cosmic themes — or anything else, for that matter — it taps into a hypnotic pulse that comes derived from space rock but never fully aligns itself with the post-Hawkwindian sphere or departs the sun-soaked field of terrestrial psychedelia.

Perhaps that last image is the most fitting for IIII, which was recorded partly in Copenhagen and partly out in the Danish countryside, with Causa Sui‘s Jonas Munk, who would also mix and master the album, at the helm. Even within the 10-minute opener, the trio’s progressive explorations veer into riffier crunch and airy post-rock with a sonic dexterity that would be frightening were it not also so gorgeously smooth, and the prevailing atmosphere is one not of aggression, but of peace. Guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, bassist Christian Becher and drummer Christoffer Brøchmann execute their parts with a jazzy clarity and focus, but even at its loudest, IIII is not unintentionally intense or more consuming than it wants to be. That precision, in balance with the organic output across “I,” its no-less-gracefully building counterpart “II,” the 21-minute sprawl of “III” and the serenely ambient “IIII,” results in an outing of great reach and greater affect. It is subtle, but expansive.

Ahead of the release on Feb. 11 (that’s when preorders ship, anyway), I have the pleasure today of hosting the premiere of “I.” I’ve no doubt you’ll find its 10:46 run immersive, and the only downside is that after it reaches its crescendo — oh, you’ll know it when you hear it — it won’t be immediately followed by the next of the LP’s four tracks. A month isn’t so long to wait.

Papir will be appearing at Roadburn 2014, both alone and alongside Electric Moon — their collaborative debut, The Papermoon Sessions (review here), is available now on Sulatron — and have been announced for the Freak Valley Festival in Germany as well.

Please enjoy “I” below, followed by more info courtesy of El Paraiso, who in the coming months will also release a new solo offering from Jakob Skøtt and a live Causa Sui album (their first) from Freak Valley:

Papir, “I” from IIII

PAPIR release new album in less than a month – pre-orders up now at:

http://elparaisorecords.com/releases/papir-IIII

Papir has the unique ability to transform heavy, psychedelic music into something fresh. Sure, Papir knows their kraut- and progrock history, but unlike the majority of bands in the present day psych-rock scene they venture far beyond mere pastiche. By now the bands concerts have become awe-inducing experiences, earning them slots at major European festivals including Roskilde (2012), and Roadburn (2014).

It’s stunning to witness how Papir pull numerous influences together with natural ease in these three lengthy excursions. It sounds inspired.

Not only is Papir IIII heavier than previous their efforts, it seems more lush and atmospheric as well. It is the sound of a band fulfilling its potential. Onwards and upwards.

We’re amazed to bring you this centerpiece exactly one year since the revered III was release – the album that really put Papir on the map. We had to reprint it a few months later, so grab that while you’re at it: http://elparaisorecords.com/releases/papir-III

Papir IIII is available as LP including mp3 download card – packed in a heavy duty recycled sleeve. Every order of this album from the El Paraiso shop gets a sheet of limited El Paraiso stickers! As well as an oversized heavy duty catalogue card. All our orders are packed in sturdy double sided cardboard boxes.

Papir on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records

Tags: , , , , ,