The Stone Eye to Release South of the Sun Oct. 15; Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Philadelphia four-piece The Stone Eye will release their sixth album, South of the Sun, on Oct. 15 through Eclipse Records. The sound they’re working with is, as one would hope by their sixth LP, well established in the songs, and the harmonies are right on and the vibe is dug in while still focused on each song as an individual piece of the whole record. I’ve only been through it once, and though the band’s name has popped up here from time to time, I’ve never actually heard them before. The first impression is favorable.

They have a video up for the song “Catatonia” from the album, and its balance between mood and groove represents the collection’s more progressive aspects well. It’s not the most immediate of the various inclusions, and it’s a pretty good mix throughout, but it’s catchy in its own way and the drums come through with underlying complexity of purpose that adds to the inherent prioritization of melody.

In short, you might dig it.

The PR wire has this:

The stone eye

THE STONE EYE go face to face with a rogue police officer in new “Catatonia” music video

Watch the new music video ‘Catatonia’ via YouTube, stream the single on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Deezer, and Amazon Music

The band’s sixth full-length album South Of The Sun is scheduled for release on October 15, 2021.

Pre-order / Pre-save at this location:

Watch “Catatonia” by THE STONE EYE now!
Psychedelic sludge-rockers The Stone Eye have revealed a new music video for their latest single “Catatonia”. The video was directed by Stephen Burdick. Watch it right now at this location. “Catatonia” is the second single from the band’s sixth full-length album South Of The Sun which is scheduled for a worldwide release on October 15, 2021 via Eclipse Records.

“Catatonia was our attempt at writing a simple, circular tune with a strong hook that would stick in listener’s minds, like the way Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana does,” says lead vocalist & guitarist Stephen Burdick. ” The idea behind the video wasn’t anything too elaborate, just us trying to be as absurd and ridiculous as possible whilst also making some sense. Why not have a rogue, alcoholic police officer with a handlebar mustache try to dish out a parking meter ticket, then proceed to have the pursuit of his life which ends with him standing face to face with a risqué representation of the devil who proceeds to smack his bum? We’ve never seen that done before, and what’s more ridiculous than that?”

The new record, titled South of the Sun, is one of those gems that is familiar somehow, yet takes the listener on a journey mapped out in new pathways. The album’s music invokes the spirits of Frank Zappa and Kurt Cobain while applying their influence upon music which easily falls alongside the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Alice In Chains. Heavy with a layer of glorious weirdness, this album combines a raucous, dirty guitar sound with clever musicianship … vocals that are as hypnotic in harmony as they are diverse in range, and a rhythm section as daring as it is ornate and, at times, funk-a-licious. With thirteen mesmerizing songs altogether, the singles from the album certainly showcase the wide range of influences upon the band’s writing. For the first single “Witches & Raptures”, the band sings about being trapped in the big picture of the world around us and how servants eventually are consumed by their social masters after they have served their purpose. The second single “Catatonia” is more of an exercise in meditative songwriting designed to just lose the listener in the lyrics which represent such philosophical questions such as ‘who’s out there, what’s there?’. The third single “Aleutian Summer” can be best described as a scene out of The Shining, going stir-crazy because you’re figuratively trapped in the middle of God knows where. They are soulful songs, and in their own way erotic, both perfect for rock, alternative, stoner, and even metal radio playlists as fuzzy stoner sludge wrapped up in a progressive, pop metal take on the rock genre.

The Stone Eye lineup
Stephen Burdick (lead vocals, guitar), Jeremiah Bertin (drums), Christian Mechem (vocals, guitar), Mike Pacca (bass, vocals)

The Stone Eye, “Catatonia” official video

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Wail Premiere Self-Titled Debut in Full: Out This Week on Translation Loss

Posted in audiObelisk on July 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Philadelphia instrumentalist four-piece Wail release their self-titled debut July 23 on Translation Loss Records, and across its 10 tracks they jam out like the Philly All-Stars they are by any other name. Featuring Yanni Papadopoulos and Alexi Papadopoulos of Stinking Lizaveta on guitar and bass, EDO‘s Pete Wilder also on guitar and drummer Grant Calvin Weston, who’s worked with James “Blood” Ulmer, Billy Martin and hosts of others in varying jazz, funk and fusion contexts in addition to performing solo, they don’t skimp on pedigree, but the hour-long Wail is of course about more than the stuff they’ve done before. The bounce and surging lead guitar of “Family Man” and the jangly underpinning of swing in preceding opener “He Knows What it Is,” building to a fullness of tone and then pulling back to make room for the next solo, the jab-throwing rhythm of “Symmetry” and the way its burgeoning psychedelic feel give over to the nine-minute stretch of “Astronomy”a and the ensuing languid hypnocraft in the first half there — rest assured, they grow freakier as they go — all of these elements come together early on the record to establish a sonic personality with the confidence to go where it wants and follow improvisational whims, but also to build a conversation between the players involved and dive into the chemistry there. Just so happens there’s plenty of that to go around.

If you’re the type to sit and analyze — there’s no wrong way to listen — you’ll find the quality of play here humbling. Dig into the snare work and intertwining guitars and bass of “One World” after “Astronomy” and the rock-jazz affect of the whole is certainly more than the sum of its parts, but that doesn’t mean the parts aren’t still damn impressive. In this way, Wail‘s Wail engages dually, and is cerebral as well as expressive, maybe born of the players’ desire to work together, though in the modern recording climate and era of the ‘pandemic project,’ I should note I have no idea how much time they’ve actually all spent in the same room. If you told me the record was all done live, written and improvised in the studio and recorded over one weekend, I’d believe you. If you told meWail Wail they passed files back and forth for eight months in 2020 and built the songs up one at a time that way, I’d believe you too. I’m very trusting, but I’m easily hurt; don’t take advantage. The point is that however it was made, the vibe here is real, natural and fluid. Obviously, if someone’s going to put a song called “Philly Strut” on a record, they damn well better bring it, and Wail do, funk-tioning as a unit with just an edge of the unhinged to remind you there’s still a chance you’ll get your ass kicked if you hang out long enough in town trying to meet Gritty.

Maybe I’m a sucker for psych-jazz — maybe I also breathe oxygen — but as “Oceans of Mercury” answers back to “Astronomy” in the-only-other-song-about-space fashion, its guitar noodling with due exploratory sense, mellow but not inactive, the breadth and scope that Wail covers becomes that much clearer. It’s fitting that so much of the album is about what the band can bring to light working together — you can hear it throughout the entire span, even in the more atmospheric moments, and they offer no pretense otherwise — but there’s forward potential in that too, and it’s when they stretch out in that kind of flowing movement that it comes forward. “Expert’s Reprise” is brighter somehow but revisits the jangle strum of “Family Man” earlier on and it becomes the bed-jam for an extended shreddy solo that consumes much of its second half, receding temporarily before breaking out again, leading to the trippy “Pyramids” in the penultimate spot, which puts guitar-as-synth (or just synth) and other effects to use over a sweet bassline that holds the whole thing together.

That leaves only closer “Abbath is Drunk Again,” which at 6:54 is a strut unto itself in terms of the band reaffirming what’s worked so well for them all along — a looser feel than some of what’s come before it, but still keeping to a structure not unlike “Expert’s Reprise” where everybody’s going along cool and then wham comes a dizzying guitar solo over top. They end cold, clicking off a pedal, and offer a quick couple seconds to process before the end. Not too shabby. Especially considering Wail as a debut release, the level they’re executing at is emblematic of the experience they bring. Even in its most unscripted moments, the very happening isn’t happenstance. It ain’t a coincidence they kill it. One imagines them swimming around each other in Philly’s talent pool and finally creating a swirl enough to get together and, well, wail for a while. And so they do.

I could go on — it might be fun — but inevitably if I did I’d end up using the word “skronk” somewhere and nobody needs that shit. You’ll find the premiere of the whole shebang on the player below, followed by a killer by-the-numbers quote from Yanni Papadopoulos the pre-save link for the album, courtesy of Translation Loss.


Yanni Papadopoulos on Wail:

1. Wail is working man’s music. If you’re outside painting houses for a living, baking in the sun while biting flies feast on your flesh, you know that some upbeat swinging jams are what will get you to cleanup time.

2. My lead guitar tracks on this record are all first takes with no edits or punches. I’m proud of that and I think it gives the record an off-the-cuff feel.

3. I’m heavily influenced by Wino and Greg Ginn, but also by Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Hazel. I’ve seen tons of heavy shows in my life, but one of the heaviest was Funkadelic. I was part of the sound crew for a big outdoor show in 94′. We unloaded six Marshall full stacks to the stage and two SVT cabs. Then Funkadelic came out and played Cosmic Slop. Sonic Youth, who had gone on just before them, seemed like a Tonka toy by comparison.

4. Wail just wants to be the funk band at your stoner rock fest.

5. Progressive rock influences are important to me, so it’s a pleasure for me and my brother to work with veterans like Calvin Weston and Pete Wilder who have been prog heads for decades.

pre-save link:

Yanni Papadopoulos: guitar
Alexi Papadopoulos: bass
Pete Wilder: guitar
Grant Calvin Weston: drums

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Review & Full Album Stream: The Age of Truth, Resolute

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the age of truth resolute

[Click play above to stream Resolute by The Age of Truth. Album is out Friday and available for preorder here.]

Be it resolved, Philadelphia’s The Age of Truth haven’t fixed what wasn’t broken about their 2017 debut LP, Threshold (review here), but have taken many of the aspects of that record and, with Resolute, pushed them forward. The four-piece — with drummer Scott Frassetto making his first recorded appearance alongside returning guitarist Michael DiDonato, bassist William Miller and vocalist Kevin McNamara — offer fewer songs than on the first outing, but if they’ve pulled back on things like an interlude and a bonus track, the path of immediacy suits them even in tracks that might be longer and comes coupled with a progression of songwriting and a sharpness of performance that rings out from the first 10 seconds of “Palace of Rain” onward. They are down to the business of kicking ass. What’s another word for “determined?”

Renewing their collaboration with producer Joseph Boldizar, who engineered along with Dave Klyman at Retro City Studios in Philly — Andrew Schneider mixed all but “Seven Words” in Brooklyn and Ryan Smith mastered in Nashville — only further highlights the growth the band’s craft has undertaken in the last four years. The tension of the chug in “A Promise of Nothing,” the swagger amid McNamara‘s layers in the prior “Horsewhip” and the swaying payoff in aforementioned opener in “Palace of Rain” all set an early standard of high grade fare that finds the unit sounding tighter, more purposeful in their task and aware of what they want that task to be. Understand, I’m not slagging off that first record in the slightest. Again, what’s happening here is that The Age of Truth have taken what worked really well and added to it.

At just under seven minutes, “Palace of Rain” sets up an alternating pattern of shorter and longer cuts that plays out across side A. Its turns are crisp but made fluid by an underlying groove, and among the other functions it has, it establishes the methodology the band will work with throughout what follows. It has an instrumental build. It has a powerhouse performance from McNamara — who could be singing classic metal or NWOBHM if he wanted but is well suited to the grittier fare; his voice reminds of a roughed-up Philly version of Euro heavy rock singers like Magnus Ekwall, Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand, etc. — that meets the aggressive pulse in Frassetto‘s drumming and the patterns set by DiDonato‘s riffs with due confrontationalism, Miller adding the tonal heft to the punch that puts “Palace of Rain” over the top in its concluding nod even as it emphasizes the journey undertaken to get there.

“Horsewhip” — three minutes as opposed to six-plus, which happens again between “A Promise of Nothing” and side A capper “Seven Words” — starts out with a more swinging, near-but-not-quite-post-Clutch semi-spoken verse before the chorus spreads out in Monster Magnetic style and loops back around, catchy like a song that came together in one rehearsal and needed nothing more than it was given, and while “A Promise of Nothing” is more structurally complex and breaks in its midsection for a quiter stretch before picking up volume again in slower roll, eventually returning to its chug to round out, the band carries it across with efficiency and urgency in kind, letting the acousti-Zeppelin “Seven Words” finish out in a manner made all the more organic for the subdued middle of the song before. Vocals farther back, a lead and rhythm layer of guitar accompanying, it’s more than an interlude and a considered shift in methodology that prefaces more changes still to come as Resolute moves into side B.

the age of truth

As “Horsewhip” advised to “Shut your mouth and go to sleep” — practically shouldering its way to getting stuck in your head — “Eye One” draws back for a more patient approach and is nearly two and a half into its total seven minutes before the verse begins. When it does, it’s a stomper with Wyndorfian phrasing, Sabbath-rooted swing and a turn after four minutes in toward more straight-ahead drive for the chorus, before a bluesy solo section begins the final build back into the hook again, vocals in layers front and back while the guitar, bass and drums urges into the cold finish. Where side A went between shorter and longer songs, side B is set up shortest to longest, with “Salome” at 7:52 and closer “Return to the Ships” at 9:01. A bluesman-by-the-river tale unfolds in “Salome” on a bed of fervent chug that in another context could just as easily be prog metal, but a flourish of acoustic guitar surfaces after a hint of Southern idolatry in a transition and it becomes clearer where The Age of Truth are headed. They twist and turn their way into a solo, Miller holding the groove together all the while, and are back in the chorus, more melodic and almost wistfully brash, before the acoustic comes back around to close out.

That’s a fair enough shift as “Return to the Ships” launches with the first genuine drift the band has fostered, a languid moment of strum and groove that’s almost All Them Witches-esque until the watery vocals kick in. A hard snare hit at 3:05 will mark the change that’s being telegraphed — the “now it gets very heavy” moment, and sure enough — but when one considers how far The Age of Truth have come to get to such a point where the beginning of “Return to the Ships” seems natural emphasizes the smoothness with which their execution brings the listener along for the ride. With a return to the quiet and guest keyboards/programming by Graham Killian, the closer chooses not to go for the big payoff at the end. Don’t get me wrong — it’s lacking nothing for impact when it wants to hit hard, and after six minutes in, it’s downright pummeling as the tempo picks up — but the last two and a half minutes of the track are led by that softer guitar, and the actual drawdown of Resolute is exactly that: a drawdown.

The lesson there? Something about unpredictability, maybe, or simply that The Age of Truth are considering the album as a whole as well as the individual songs that comprise it when they’re writing. One way or the other, their taking that breath, taking the time to let “Return to the Ships” go gradually — as one migth see a ship get smaller heading for the horizon — is one last proof for the theorem of their overarching creative growth. That they know so well what they want to do throughout these tracks only makes them a more dangerous band, and as much as Resolute‘s goal is in its craft, so too does the energy in this material make it all the more infectious, resonant even through that softer conclusion. May they never lose whatever chip it is residing on their collective shoulder if this is what they’re going to do with it. One of 2021’s best in heavy rock.

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Video Interview: High Priestess Nighthawk of Heavy Temple on Making Lupi Amoris, Deleting Entire Albums, and Much More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on June 1st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

heavy temple

Philadelphia-based hard fuzz trio Heavy Temple make an awaited debut on June 18 with Lupi Amoris (review here), a first full-length years and multiple lineups in the making. Settled hopefully on the lineup of founding bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk, guitarist Lord Paisley and drummer Baron Lycan, the band take the opportunity to turn folkloric admonishment into emotional and sexual agency in the theme of the record — something consistent with their take on Funkadelic‘s “Hit it and Quit It” (discussed here) from last year, come to think of it — and do so in the context of rampant groove, psychedelic flourish and complex but memorable songcraft. If you and I were hanging out, talking about albums, I’d probably say something like, “Hey, this record’s really cool. You should check it out.”

This interview’s pretty casual. I manage to keep my nerding out over the songs to a low-enough to only be mildly embarrassing, which I’m proud of, while Nighthawk herself recounts the long process by which Lupi Amoris was realized, self-recording, moving,heavy temple lupi amoris changing band members, changing songs accordingly, and on and on until, at last, Magnetic Eye will have the thing out and the band can move on to the new material already in progress. After 2016’s Chassit EP (review here) and their prior 2014 self-titled three-songer (review here), a quick turnaround to a second full-length would be welcome, but given the band’s history as a dedicated touring act in addition to everything else that’s come before this record’s arrival, one could hardly begrudge them wanting to celebrate this release on stage for a bit.

To that end, Heavy Temple headline this very weekend Philly’s Live on Front two-day outdoor fest. With Ruby the Hatchet as the corresponding second-night headliner and the likes of Slomo SapiensHigh Reeper and St. James and the Apostles on the bill, an hour-long set should provide a ready (and likewise awaited) opportunity for three-piece to showcase where they’re at. I asked Nighthawk about stepping on stage for the first time in over a year, as well as all the other stuff about the album, and yeah, it’ll probably be a good one. Hopefully the first of many.

It was Saturday afternoon. A band was recording downstairs at Chez Nighthawk and her roommate had houseguests. My kid was in the adjacent room screaming about who the hell knows what. So like I said, casual. In any case, if you get through the whole thing either watching or listening, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading and/or watching.

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris Interview with High Priestess Nighthawk, May 29, 2021

Lupi Amoris is available to preorder now through Magnetic Eye Records ahead of the June 18 release. More info at the links.

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (2021)

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Album Review: Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris

Posted in Reviews on May 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

heavy temple lupi amoris

It has been years of waiting leading to a debut album from Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple. They have since their dawning amassed a not-insignificant catalog of short releases — their self-titled EP (review here) in 2014 was followed by 2016’s Chassit EP (review here), and there was that same year’s take on Type O Negative‘s “Love You to Death” (discussed here) and last year’s P-Funk covers split with Wolf Blood benefitting Black Lives Matter (discussed here) — as well as a likewise not-insignificant amount of alumni. Founding bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk has overseen multiple full-lineup changes for the three-piece now comprised of herself, guitarist Lord Paisley and drummer Baron Lycan, and would seem to have hammered out the sound she envisioned for the band on the road rather than in the studio. Heavy Temple arrive at their first full-length with no shortage of anticipation and with years of touring behind them and performances as festivals far and wide, among them Psycho Las VegasShadow Woods, SXSW, going back to Eye of the Stoned Goat 2 (review here) in Delaware in 2013.

Lupi Amoris, which sees release through Magnetic Eye Records, is the beneficiary of this experience. Recorded by Will Spectre at Red Water Recordings (points for another Type O reference) and mastered by Dan Randall at Mammoth Sound with striking, symbol-laden cover art by Alex Reisfar, the five-song/33-minute offering follows a theme recasting the folktale Little Red Riding Hood — at least mostly; I’m not sure how opener “A Desert Through the Trees” ties into the narrative, but neither have I seen a lyric sheet — as a tale of feminine empowerment and realized sexual agency. Through “The Wolf,” “The Maiden,” “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” and “Howling of a Prothalamion” — the latter term refers to a wedding poem — and indeed the prior leadoff cut, Heavy Temple bring the payoff toward which they’ve been working for years. When they issued Chassit, I argued in favor of it being their debut LP for its flow and the complete-feeling sensibility underlying the songs. It was more than the sampling an EP designation implied. Listening to Lupi Amoris half a decade later, the difference is abundantly clear. In sound and style, in the substance and breadth of its songs, Lupi Amoris brings Heavy Temple to a new level entirely.

The imagine of “unrelenting fangs” is a standout, but not necessarily the whole of what Lupi Amoris has to offer. “A Desert Through the Trees” fades in smoothly and builds up quick with a post-Songs for the Deaf weighted-fuzz shuffle, slowing its roll to open wide in the verse before a winding transition that calls to mind half-speed The Atomic Bitchwax leads to the chorus. The song is spacious, vital, full and melodic. Layering of vocals adds further character, and in the second half’s guitar solo, Lord Paisley unfurls the soundscape-minded intent that becomes one of the record’s strengths, blending atmosphere and momentum atop the strong rhythmic foundation of the bass and drums. Much of the focus here will inevitably be on Nighthawk, who is a powerful and charismatic presence in the songs as well as the driving force behind the band, but the contributions of neither Paisley nor Lycan should be discounted when it comes to taking the proceedings as a whole. Everybody’s performance has stepped up, and if this is to be at last the permanent lineup of Heavy Temple — something no less awaited than the record — it would only be to the benefit of the group and their listenership alike. One must keep in mind that while Heavy Temple as a unit have been together since the end of 2012, this incarnation only came together in 2019. In some ways, they’re just getting started.

heavy temple

And given what they achieve throughout Lupi Amoris, that’s an even more exciting prospect. “A Desert Through the Trees” caps furiously as a preface for some of what the nine-minute “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” will offer later, and “The Wolf” fades in its wah-echoing guitar over the first minute-plus as an intro before the bass arrives to mark the beginning of the creeping groove that ultimately defines the track. It’s a righteous riff in the tradition thereof, and the vocals duly howl upward from the mix, flourish of harmony arriving late in the guitar but no less welcome for its arrival, the band showing a patience of craft that underlies their more forward aspects and only continues to serve them well as “The Wolf” surges its transition directly into the feedback-and-guitar-and-bass beginning of “The Maiden.” The centerpiece of Lupi Amoris might also house the record’s most scorching progressions, pushing, shoving, running all the while, and the vocals join the wash late to emphasize the point, capping cold with quick noise before “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” takes hold, a psychedelic guitar winding in to build upward toward the eventual marching verse.

Immediately the spirit is looser, the focus more on swing. The nod. And fair enough. At 4:14 into its total 9:30, the drums drop out for a moment and Heavy Temple begin a slower, more thoroughly and willfully doomed stretch. It’s another minute-plus before howling vocals — lower in the mix at first — arrive, but as the song moves past the six-minute mark, a chaos of crashes and vast-echo guitar crescendos and recedes. There’s a pause. And then the guitar goes backward and the drums go forward and they jam their way back into the central riff so long left behind and top it with dual-channel shred and end cacophonous as is their apparent wont, leaving only the key-laced “Howling of a Prothalamion” to close out. Those keyboards bookend the instrumental finale, which likewise offers bounce and gallop, ebb and flow enough to summarize the proceedings on its own while pushing outward from where the prior song’s apex left off. The ultimate moral of the story here is that whatever Heavy Temple do to follow Lupi Amoris, they’ve got their work cut out for them.

One hesitates to speculate on direction or forward intent. It may be another seven or eight years before there’s a follow-up to Lupi Amoris. Or it won’t. And their sound may push into the sinister outer reaches that “Howling of a Prothalamion” hints toward in some of its riffing, or their next outing might find them moving along another path entirely. Universe of infinite possibilities. Another record may never happen. What matters is that after years of hammering out who and what Heavy Temple are and stand for, the accomplishments of this first LP can’t be undone, and they not only justify the band’s wait-until-it’s-right approach, but make a dodged bullet of their possibly having done anything else. There’s a fair amount of year left, and again, universe of infinite possibilities, but this is the best debut album I’ve heard thus far into 2021. Recommended.

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (2021)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kevin McNamara of The Age of Truth

Posted in Questionnaire on May 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

kevin mcnamara the age of truth

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kevin McNamara of The Age of Truth

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I became a singer because I heard Jon Anderson singing “Long Distance Run Around” and it hit my soul. I was drawn to that voice. It was so odd and beautiful to me. When I heard Stevie Wonder harmonize with the keys in “Living For The City” I was drawn to him as well.

And then the roof caved in.

I bought Black Sabbath’s first album and when Ozzy sang “your love for me has just got to be real,” I cried.


As I grow older, I have learned what to do and what not to do as a singer. I’ve learned it after singing with a million bands and I’m still learning. That’s the beauty of growing wiser with age.

Describe your first musical memory.

KISS on the Paul Lynde Halloween Special! They were so bad ass!

Describe your best musical memory to date.

That’s still to come for me because I love this whole scene and at any given moment we might create that memory. So, thus far? All of them. With more to come!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

When I first heard “Bobby Brown Goes Down” by Frank Zappa.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I swear I feel like if I don’t change the scenery in my head, I might lose it. I don’t think of the past or any connection to it until I’m way ahead and looking back and going, “Ah I remember that!”

But I’m here in the present. I made it to here and that’s what matters.

How do you define success?

Not by money. Marley nailed it. “Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.”

What is something you’ve seen but wished you hadn’t?

The record companies screwing honest, hard working musicians. To me that’s evil.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

The perfect Sunday afternoon.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Art is to test the senses. I’m an asshole that way. Nothing is good enough for me? Ever.

I’m slow to accept praise I’m slow to a feel like I created something that does that.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to seeing JJ again at shows! And everyone else. I miss everyone!

Love you and don’t stop being you!

The Age of Truth, Resolute (2021)

Frank Zappa, “Bobby Brown (Goes Down)”

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The Age of Truth Premiere “Salome”; Resolute Due July 23

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on May 11th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the age of truth

Be it resolved, because The Age of Truth most certainly are. The Philadelphia-based four-piece make a return this summer with Resolute, the seven-song/43-minute follow-up to 2017’s Threshold (review here), and the progression of sound that the second album builds on the songwriting they established with the first isn’t to be ignored. They were already a powerhouse. They are now a powerhouse of greater depth and reach, and whether that manifests itself in the acoustic centerpiece “Seven Words,” in the bluesy preach of the prior “A Promise of Nothing,” in the fluidity of groove put to the fore in “Salome” or the broad ambition realized throughout nine-minute closer “Return to the Ships,” the basic fact of the matter is there’s more to The Age of Truth than the first record showed.

This is not coincidence, and neither is the album’s title. They have made themselves a more complex band in performance and style.

“Salome” is being released as a single through Contessa Music on Friday, but you can stream the premiere at the bottom of this post. I’ll hope to have more on the album prior to the release date.

Album details follow below, courtesy of the PR wire:

the age of truth resolute

Philadelphian Rockers THE AGE OF TRUTH Make Steadfast Return with New Album this Summer

Casting kinships out of the heaviest rock and metal around, self-proclaimed brothers-in-arms, The Age of Truth, return this summer with their brand-new studio album, Resolute.

Upon the release of their 2017 debut Threshold, the band were not only defined by their adventurous ideas, but also their conviction and togetherness as a hard rocking unit.

“Together we’ve constantly tried to evolve our songwriting, instrumentation and the sound we wanted to capture. This album has been a real journey for us and almost three years in the making. We’ve held ourselves to exacting standards every step of the way,” says bassist William Miller.

With Resolute, the Philadelphian quartet have rebuilt their entire sound atop an unshakable foundation. Producing a record that is bigger and bolder than anything they’ve attempted before, the band has newly replenished their arsenal of deadly tones, diesel-fuelled fuzz, and heavy psychedelic blues.

One of the defining benchmarks on Resolute is new single ‘Salome’; a silver-riffed beast that will strike a chord with followers of classic stoner rock and Clutch’s no-nonsense aural assaults. Throw in the majestic gravitational-altering grooves of Soundgarden and it truly encapsulates everything The Age of Truth is about.

Track Listing
1. Palace of Rain
2. Horsewhip
3. A Promise of Nothing
4. Seven Words
5. Eye One
6. Salome
7. Return to the Ships

Written and performed by The Age Of Truth. Produced by The Age Of Truth, Dave Klyman, and Joseph Boldizar. Engineered by Joseph Boldizar and Dave Klyman at Retro City Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mixed by Andrew Schneider at Acre Audio, Brooklyn, New York. “Seven Words” Mixed by Joseph Boldizar at Retro City Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, Nashville, Tennessee. Artwork by Mikko Raima, Mänttä-Vilppula, Finland. Photography and Design by Shane K. Gardner Rock N Roll Socialite, Baltimore, Maryland.

The Age Of Truth is
Kevin McNamara- vocals
Michael DiDonato – guitars
Scott Frassetto – drums and percussion
William Miller – bass

Graham Killian, keyboards and programming on “Return to the Ships”

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Wax Mekanix

Posted in Questionnaire on April 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

wax mekanix

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Wax Mekanix

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I’m a shameless songwriter, singer, guitarist, drummer, producer, engineer, and percussionist. I basically do two different things musically.

I’m primarily a solo rock artist with a current hankerin’ for heavy guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. But that may change depending on whatever creative breeze hits me. If you listen closely to what I do, you’ll hear hints of pop, folk, country, and blues. I’m an American born in the 20th century, so my musical DNA is infused with all of the influences that implies.

In general, my recent work is considered heavy rock exhibiting some contemporary and some classic qualities. Specifically, I create, what I like to call, high-velocity folk music. This does not necessarily mean it’s acoustic. My new album from Electric Talon Records is called Mobocracy. It’s a focused, strident, snarling, slamming, howling stew that’s being described as edgy, atypical, three-dimensional, groovy, literate, and of and for its time.

I was trying to create a set of contemporary songs with connective tissue made of my decades of history, experience, and influences. My open-minded, brave, and adventurous audience knows to be prepared for some sonic and thematic swerves, depending on what is influencing me when I make records. So, although “Mobocracy” sounds like it does, my next record is shaping up to sound unlike it. This is exciting for me and keeps me creatively healthy, inspired, and looking toward the musical horizon. In the final analysis, I trust my instincts that this is what anyone wants from me that is interested in what I do.

On the other hand I’m a founding member of American cult rock quartet, Nitro. Not the L.A. glam hairband that graced the MTV airwaves in the late ’80s. Dana, John, Brad, and I formed Nitro in 1980.

By deliberate design, the scope of all of the Nitro records (Lethal, Lethal + II, Volatile Activity, etc.) is sonically and thematically concentrated to result in high intensity, aggressive, loud, shameless songs that take in our four different sets of skill and influences. We then filter it through those personal lenses and throw it back and forth at each other with the tools we each are expected to swing. When we do that, rinse, and repeat enough times, we hit an equilibrium that our four very different perspectives agree on. It really does feel a lot like trying to break a horse by democracy.

Although I’m a bit puzzled by it, I’m grateful that our cult-like records are held in such high regard. At the risk of making more out of it than it really is, we have a unique, modest pedigree because of the fact that Nitro was on the tip of the spear as part of America’s answer to the first cries of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. So I’m thankful for that.

When I work on solo stuff like “Mobocracy”, it’s more of a dictatorship. The huge difference is that I don’t have to be diplomatic or forge some kind of sympathetic compromise to get to where I’m going with my records.

When I step outside of Nitro, I don’t have a static lineup to my band, so it depends on what/where I’m playing. There are so many inspiring creative people in the world to discover, so this is the appeal of flying solo in the way that I do it.

The goal of Mobocracy was directly tied to the times I found myself in when I was writing the songs. America was radically transforming right before my eyes. History shows us that artists will not let this kind of tectonic shift in American life pass without comment. I’m just commenting now. I wanted to design something that felt and read like the aggression, anger, and dark turmoil that most of America, and probably the world, was feeling.

Describe your first musical memory.

1966. I was not yet four years old and was holding my mother’s hand as we walked through the five-and-dime store of our town. In the distance, across the aisles, coming from the record department, were the strains of a new release, “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles. It was joyous, funny, and a perfect sing-song moment, custom made for a toddler. I was captivated and thrilled. I skipped along beside my mom, and instantly was singing, “we all live in a yellow submarine!” Less than three minutes of priceless bliss.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Certain gigs or recording sessions come to mind, but honestly, it’s the rebirth of creativity just about every time I write new music. It’s an evergreen thing. It wonderful that there is always something new, different, and exciting on the horizon. This is a glorious gift that I have been given.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

January 6th, 2021. I consider myself a typical American citizen. I’m a pragmatic moderate realist with both conservative and liberal views. Until this date, I assumed that the majority of thoughtful American citizens, regardless of political leanings, would not do anything that would put at risk, the wellbeing of the foundation of our rare , albeit imperfect, democratic system of government. I was wrong and have been forever recalibrated. Some Americans, if given the opportunity, will use any and all means to achieve whatever political ends they desire. They will act regardless of the harm to the nation and/or fellow citizens. Unfortunately, the proverbial genie is out of the bottle and a paradigm shift has occurred, and precedent established, for better or worse.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

In my opinion, at the core, creative expression and artistic pursuits are a trip. An open-ended journey through life. Sometimes it takes the form of temporary transient satisfaction of writing a cool riff or lyric. Other times it is just about the possibility of creating something new, fresh, and uncharted. The fact that I have the opportunity to be creative. I can’t imagine my life without this possibility. I go long stretches without creating but always know that the chance of revisiting it is there. That’s a powerful comfort for me. Both aspects have always been cathartic for me and make me who I am. At the risk of being excessively dramatic, I feel really fortunate to have it in my life.

How do you define success?

Musical/creative success to me can be summed up simply. Self-sustaining. If the activity (writing, recording, and/or performing) generates resources sufficient to perpetuate it, then I’m happy. Independent of fame or fortune, the work is the point for me and was/is always in my crosshairs.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Frankly, nothing. Some things are hard to see, but I don’t regret seeing anything since it all has served to shape me in some way. Deliberate or serendipitous experiences make us who we are and how we interact with each other, so I try to see value in them all.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Creatively, this is the essence of why I do what I do. It’s all about the horizon for me. Specifically, as a musicians, it’s exciting to know that there is the possibility of magnificent amazing new music that can be created in the future if I want to pursue it. This evergreen nature of art is one of the most intoxicating aspects, and great forces that drives me to continue to do it. Sometimes I dream about music that I have yet to create and I wake reinvigorated, refreshed, and excited about the possibilities ahead.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

I have two answers that are related. 1. All that my work has to do is satisfy me. This not meant to be a cliché or some kind of ego trip. My thinking is, if I satisfy myself, then any audience that is interested in my work, will understand and appreciate it on some level. 2. I have always seen my responsibility as artist being to make the ordinary extraordinary and the ordinary extraordinary, using the skills and tools of my trade.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

In these odd sideways times of Covid, and on a macro level, I am eager for the tribal social experiences of restaurants, sporting events, concerts, parks, public travel, beaches, etc. One a personal and micro level, I am looking forward to again being physically close to those I care about without being concerned for their health. Specifically, hugging people.

Wax Mekanix, “Black” official video

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