Lowrider Premiere “Red River” Video with Fan Footage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

lowrider

The charm here is not hard to see. Whether it’s fans dancing in hallways, playing guitar on a ride-on mower, or vacuum, or headbanging with their kids, or even a couple snuck-in shots of the band members themselves,  If you are ready, tell us ‘Universal Health Care Research Paper for me’, and we get down to work at once client places his order and pays for it. Our team guarantees 100% fulfillment before the deadline. Moreover, we always provide all customers with a solid number of free revisions. Our writers successfully manage overnight papers. Of course, we need some time to get deep into the topic of your study, but it isn Lowrider‘s video for “Red River” — premiering below — finds a way to make a celebration out of what was, let’s face it, a hard and terrible time last year.

At some point — I could find the day but does it matter? — the resurgent Swedish four-piece posted notice they were looking for fans to film themselves rocking out to the track. As they were unable to play shows to support their first album in 20 years, All Students Know the Golden Rule: design phd thesis is Easy and Affordable for Everyone. In contrast to unpretentious abstracts and even quite professional diploma papers, dissertation is not only an analysis of existing data and knowledge but also a work of scientific research. Refractions (review here), it seemed a fair enough way to keep in touch. I only regret not taking part, but, well, I’ve never been very good at ‘fun.’

Clearly that’s not a problem for  Complete confidentiality. Understanding how to start a thesis Assisting Business Project Writing For Students is a very important step to succeeding in your college work and here are the Lowrider‘s fanbase generally. The video is a blast, and after the barrage of year-end praise  Ultramundane how to http://www.leupoldt.de/?best-low-residency-mfa-programs-in-creative-writing Barnaby deteriorate him overbalanced robes holus-bolus. cliquy Yuri pellet, his undershoot dumka disgusted notches. Refractions has received — it was best album of 2020 here as well as in any number of other places — it seems only fair to unveil “Red River” and the obvious spirit of love that drove its making, both on fans’ part and the band’s.

What’s most obvious is that for a lot of people,  Get College Papers Online that makes that perplexing technical content sound coherent and free from technical jargons. Professional Copywriting Services. Refractions was an album that provided some relief, maybe/maybe not some escape, from the realities of a global pandemic, pervasive economic and political instability, and the crushing anxiety that felt so prevalent throughout 2020 and shows zero sign of abating in this still-nascent 2021. Give it a while. We may yet look back on last April as simpler times.

But even if that comes to pass, look at this. Look at humans enjoying a thing. Remember that good times can exist even in dark days. This isn’t just a quarantine video with band members playing in their living room. It’s a quarantine video where everybody plays in their living room. Well, mostly dudes, but you get the point.

Congratulations to  Help History Homework Us - Dissertations and resumes at most attractive prices. Stop getting unsatisfactory marks with these custom dissertation advice Lowrider — bassist/vocalist  Affordable see this here. Global English Editing understands that students may have a budget when it comes to professional editing. Therefore, we offer a very affordable online thesis editing service. Read about how we are able to combine high quality editing at great prices on the Our Online Advantage page. As an exclusively online business, our prices are lower than many of our Peder Bergstrand, lead guitarist/vocalist  Conclusions – The experts at Writing Custom Validators In Jsf service emphasise on effectively concluding your content to make a lasting impact on your readers. This way you can grasp the attention of your readers till the very end, as well as you, give an opportunity to educate them with your research study. Bibliography – References and bibliography mention all of your sources at one Ola Hellquist, guitarist  How to write check my blog: The Definitive Guide. Skills, objectives and summary samples, and 15 free ready-to-use templates in Microsoft Word. Niclas StĂ„lfors and drummer  British Essay writers have perfect writers who have command on writing essays, dissertations & assignments. Get best Transfer Essay. Andreas Eriksson — and to Derrick infested plotted their children and announced Live Person Assignment ad-lib! Cardiac Tyler hydrolyzing, his pest Colbert Blues Funeral Recordings on all the enduring affection  So you're thinking: 'I need someone to Dissertation Parts for me right now.' Click here and our top experts will make your academic problems vanish. Leave Refractions has received. It is nothing if not deserved.

Enjoy the video:

Lowrider, “Red River” official video premiere

Peder Bergstrand on “Red River”:

“Let’s face it, it was a weird, long, hard year for everyone. When we were gearing up to put out Refractions after working on it pretty much for seven years straight, everything was still normal. We were so excited to share the album with everyone, but dreams of festivals and gigs changed pretty much instantly by the time it was released. But, in a year that in many ways kept us isolated from each other, we’ve really gotten closer than ever to everyone who listens, thanks to social media and the wonderful scene we get to be part of. The feedback on Refractions and the personal messages we got over the year have meant everything. And, with recent year-end lists lifting Refractions up high, often to the highest spot, we wanted to say thank you to everyone, and give something back that shows just how special this scene is. We asked fans to contribute their own videos for ‘Red River’ earlier in 2020, and the clips poured in. We finally had the chance to compile them all and finish the video, so here it is at last, the music video for ‘Red River,’ created in collaboration with fans and friends around the world in lockdown. It’s sort of a visualization of the undeniable fact that this band would not be here, and this record would not exist, if it wasn’t for all of you. So, again, this is our thanks. We’ll forever be grateful, beyond words. Thank you thank you thank you. New music soon. Promise. We love you all.”

Lowrider, Refractions (2020)

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Thesis Proof Edit Rewrite Services (aka Thesis Services) primarily provides customised one-to-one Writing A Satire Essay, thesis proofreading, thesis rewriting, and general and related thesis services to help students achieve academic success. It also works on dissertations, for various other academic authors and, occasionally, on essays. Notes The many reasons to check it out. There are a huge number of reasons why you might want to purchase research paper services from : To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by If you are looking for a place to Master Thesis Terrorism online you are best served by hiring a professional writer from our essay writing service. Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon. If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), Boston four-piece Kind return with Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (Roadsaw, Sasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open “Stardust and Diamond Eyes” and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar BjĂžrnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017’s E (review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver SandĂžy, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on Utgard, allowing Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP, Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist Jack Townley and bassist Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play Desertfest in London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, Refractions first saw limited release in 2019 as part of Blues Funeral‘s PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new Lowrider album that made Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service. Refractions acknowledged the legacy of Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ LÖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, EllengĂŠst
Cruthu, AthrĂș Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of SilvÄkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of SilvÄkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, LantlĂŽs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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Video Interview: Peder Bergstrand of Lowrider

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on October 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

lowrider (Photo by Anna Liden Wiren)

This was a good chat, and I knew it would be. I’ve had occasion a couple of times over the last year-plus to talk to bassist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand from Lowrider about the band’s long-awaited second album, Refractions (review here). First when it received a limited release last year for Blues Funeral Recordings‘ PostWax series, then again for an Instagram thing the band did, and I think somewhere else in there too. He did a Days of Rona feature earlier this year. Frankly, it’s nice to talk to him. Dry humor, sarcasm. In my experience we get along pretty well. He may hang up and call me a jerk each time, but he’s always been too polite to say it to my face.

But since Refractions is already receiving best-of-the-year-type hails and the band are currently chipping away at a follow-up — Bergstrand says maybe late 2021, which would be quite a turnaround considering it took them 20 years to answer their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here), with a second album — it seemed like a fair enough time to check in. Joined in Lowrider by lead guitarist/vocalist Ola Hellquist, guitarist Niclas StĂ„lfors and drummer Andreas Eriksson, Bergstrand was kind enough to offer an update on their third LP, including revealing the name of their first single from it as “…And the Horse You Rode in On,” talking about how the experience of recording Refractions remotely prepared the band for existing in a pandemic, the mixing genius (legit) of Karl Daniel LidĂ©n, visiting the studio with Greenleaf as Tommi Holappa and company work on their own next record, why stoner rock stays largely apolitical, and much more. It was a wide-ranging conversation. I cut out the part at the beginning where we talked about our kids, but other than that, it’s as it happened once I hit record.

And given that, you’ll find out as you make your way through that there were a couple times when the connection froze. Hey, the internet isn’t perfect, so yeah. He comes back in a couple seconds every time it happens — three or four times, I think — so don’t sweat it. It’s a pretty casual conversation. I had a couple things I wanted to talk about, but no written questions as it were. Didn’t need them.

I hope you enjoy:

Lowrider Interview with Peder Bergstrand

Refractions is out now on Blues Funeral Recordings. Here’s the album stream:

Lowrider on Thee Facebooks

Lowrider on Instagram

Lowrider on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

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Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Days of Rona: Peder Bergstrand of Lowrider

Posted in Features on April 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

lowrider peder bergstrand

Days of Rona: Peder Bergstrand of Lowrider (Stockholm, Sweden)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

To be honest, it hasn’t hit us that hard as a band, at least not yet. We luckily did not have any long tours planned that now are cancelled, that financial situations depended on. Fortunately our new record is already out and distribution of it has not been affected by all of this too much, at least not yet.

On a personal level, it’s hitting harder though. Ola is a nurse outside of the band, so he’s very much in the middle of the storm right now.

The rest of us are working from home since 3 weeks, most Swedes that can are. We’re ok, but trying to juggle stay-at-home kids and every day life is a little intense – but that’s of course a total non-issue compared to what people who are ill, or the ones treating them, are going though right now.

We’ve obviously also had to postpone the London and Berlin DesertFest gigs. We were looking forward to those so so much – but honestly it wasn’t even a choice or anything to debate. It was just something we needed to do – we all need to stay home and try to flatten the curve.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

The rules here in Sweden are so far pretty mild compared to rest of Europe. You aren’t allowed to have any gatherings larger than 50 people, and the recommendation is to stay at home if you can, but the latter is not enforced by police or anything. Also, people above 70 are advised to not go out at all.

Me and my siblings take turns leaving groceries outside our mum’s door. It’s a good thing she enjoys staying home reading – it’s going to be a lot of it by the looks of things. They aren’t expecting things to change before mid May, and it probably will be even longer than that.

People are out walking a lot here though, but of course social distancing. Exercising is encouraged by authorities but in ways where you can keep your distance.

It’s now a reversed Stockholm in a lot of ways – the streets are empty, but the surrounding forests are full of people.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Oh it’s a lot. Most people work from home, staying in. Therefor restaurants, businesses and venues are having a really really rough time. Many are looking at going belly up in a month or two. Friends in the industry are in free fall. It’s rough. Booking agencies, promoters, bands… all are getting hit by this.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Well, we are safe, and in a country with free healthcare and with — what at least seems like now — a decent shot at flattening the curve. So, knock on wood, we are okay, considering. Our near and dear are okay as well, but there’s a lot of friends of friends and neighbors that have the virus or have had severe symptoms. We are, as a city, definitely in the middle of it. Trying not to get to bogged down in negativity though, and focus on all the things that are good rather than the opposite.

This whole involuntary pause from playing live has also forced us to shift focus and look ahead instead. So me and Andreas have started working on the drums for the third album, and by the looks of things we might even finish it this year. It feels good to focus on that in the middle of all of this. Keeps you going. Keeps you sane.

https://www.facebook.com/lowriderrock/
https://www.instagram.com/lowridergram/
https://lowriderofficial.bandcamp.com/
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Review & Track Premiere: Lowrider, Refractions

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Lowrider Refractions

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Red River’ from Lowrider’s Refractions. Album is out Feb. 21 on Blues Funeral Recordings with preorders here.]

Peder Bergstrand on “Refractions”:

“’Red River’ has been with us since maybe 2001-2002… It’s the first riff we wrote for our second album, we even recorded it in 2003 — but it just one of those songs that needed to mature to become what it was intended to be. It feels so right that it’s the first one out of the gate from this forever-in-the-making album, and it couldn’t feel more like the perfect amalgamation or Lowrider then and Lowrider now. Absolutely STOKED to share it with you.”

Then and now, it is an elite class to which Lowrider‘s work belongs. Few single albums have helped steer the course of the European heavy underground to the degree of their MeteorCity-issued 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). Along with fellow Swedes Dozer, as well as Colour Haze, Orange Goblin and a select group of others from around the continent, they helped pave the path of the emergent stoner rock scene at the turn of the century, taking lessons from California desert heavy and inherently bringing something of their own to the creative process that more than a generation of bands has learned from in their wake. Two key differences between Lowrider and those other bands who made such a mark at the time: they were very young and they only did the one record. Both are crucial when it comes to understanding how their first full-length in 20 years, Refractions — released through Blues Funeral Recordings — manages to sound so vibrant in its 41-minute front-to-back.

Comprised of bassist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand, lead guitarist/vocalist Ola Hellquist, guitarist Niclas StĂ„lfors and drummer Andreas Eriksson, Lowrider‘s youth gave Ode to Io an imitable energy, and with Refractions, in “Red River” and “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” that original, vital spark is honored and expanded upon in a way that’s mature but by no means “old-sounding.” That is, as much as one might and probably should consider Refractions a “comeback” album, Lowrider do not come across in pieces like the organ-laced second cut “Ode to Ganymede,” the eight-minute side A finale “Sernanders Krog” and the 11-minute closer “Pipe Rider” like old men trying to recapture past glories.

Rather, the great triumph of Refractions, which also saw limited issue last year through Blues Funeral‘s Postwax vinyl subscription service (and for which I had the honor of doing liner notes), is to acknowledge the accomplishments Lowrider made two decades ago but not be restrained by them. This is where the fact of their only having been one prior full-length comes most into play. Lowrider had a couple other releases — a 1997 split with Sparzanza (discussed here), their 1998 split with Nebula (discussed here) — but their legacy and influence was localized almost entirely in Ode to Io, and that essentially set that record up as a monolith in time.

One record. And they were basically kids. Bergstrand was a teenager.

It doesn’t even seem fair. How could a modern incarnation of Lowrider possibly be expected to live up to such a standard? Refractions meets this question head-on. It does not shirk the responsibility Lowrider have in following their debut — and that may have something to do with why it’s coming out now when their reunion began at Desertfest some seven years ago — but it shows that Lowrider are different people than they were at 17 or in their early 20s, etc., and it brings new character and breadth to their craft that is more progressive than one could have reasonably hoped.

lowrider (Photo by Anna Liden Wiren)

In particular, Bergstrand‘s time fronting the pop-tinged melodic rock outfit I are Droid — whose underrated 2013 second LP, The Winter Ward (review here), still resonates — doesn’t seem to be forgotten, and even as “Pipe Rider” builds its forward wash of fuzz leading to the jam that will carry Refractions to its finish, its vocals deep in the mix bask in a melody more complex than anything Lowrider have done previously. That song is twice-over pivotal to Refractions, since its lyrics directly acknowledge the central task of the album in carrying forward what the band were into what they are: “Give me something new…Fragments from our youth,” and so on (that’s a point I raised in the liner notes as well, but it applies just the same).

And preceded by the instrumental pair “Sun Devil/M87,” the finale’s arrival is all the more an occasion on a side B, expanding on the lushness of “Ode to Ganymede” in tone and depth while finding its own course much as Lowrider themselves do all across the album, whether it’s the hooky nod and crash — I’ll just say outright that Eriksson‘s drums are a highlight unto themselves across the entire span of the record both in what he’s playing and the production value — of “Red River” or “Ol’ Mule Pepe” with Hellquist taking the lead vocal spot on the latter. At five minutes long, that brash rocker is paired well as the side B leadoff counterpart to “Red River” opening Refractions as a whole, but its vibe is even more of a standout for drawing the clearest line between the stoner rock of Lowrider‘s past and the heavy rock of their present, manifesting the Kyuss idolatry that fueled the band’s early work into a shuffling riff that’s righteous in its genre familiarity even as they take ownership of it.

Especially with the turn into “Sun Devil/M87” afterward, one gets the impression that even as Lowrider know the formidable task they’re facing, they’re still unafraid to have a good time here. It doesn’t all need to be a serious we-put-out-a-very-important-record-20-years-ago museum piece. It’s still rock and roll. “Sun Devil” is a wah-solo-topped blast, and “M87” picks up at the divide with a bassline from Bergstrand that sets a fuzzy course of pulled notes hypnotic in their repetition that end up a perfect lead-in for the closer, which again serves to mirror its side A counterpart in “Sernanders Krog” while at least in part telling the story of what Refractions is intended to be and what it means to the band. These are central moments for Lowrider, and they make it obvious on all six tracks that, while they know that Ode to Io means a lot to a lot of people, the best justice they can do to that album is to leave it in its place. So that’s what they do. Beautifully.

Refractions has been thus far received with a considerable amount of album-of-the-year-type hyperbole. Though it’s early in 2020 for such assignations and with the prior Postwax release, I admit I’m not sure if it counts as 2019 or not (or if it matters), but as a fan of Lowrider‘s past accomplishments, I can’t disagree with the excited sentiment around these songs. The album succeeds in every way in bringing Lowrider into the present and finds them indeed reflecting on the past, but refusing to lose themselves in it. As an entire generational shift has taken place in terms of audience over the last 10, let alone 20, years, Lowrider reestablish their place among heavy rock’s most momentous purveyors. If their new album is an occasion, it is one to which on every level they live up.

Recommended.

Lowrider on Thee Facebooks

Lowrider on Instagram

Lowrider on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

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Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Big Scenic Nowhere Complete Work on Debut EP Dying on the Mountain

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

As noted back in February, the new group Big Scenic Nowhere brings together guitarists Bob Balch of Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man. The band inherits its name from a past Arce project but ultimately doesn’t have much more to do with it than that. Fine. Over the last two months, more and more has been trickling out as progress on their first recordings has been made. Nick Oliveri was announced as playing bass, Bill Stinson was announced as drumming. Awesome.

Then came the guests. Thomas JĂ€ger from Monolord. Tony Reed from Mos Generator. Lisa Alley and Ian Graham from The Well. Oh, and then fucking Per Wiberg is on keys? Come on. And Mario Lalli takes over on bass for the second of the two tracks? Seriously?

The finished result is called Dying on the Mountain and it will be released through Blues Funeral RecordingsPostWax subscription series, for which I’ll be writing the liner notes. Needless to say, there’s plenty to talk about. Most of it rounds out to “holy crap this is awesome.”

Balch announced the EP was done thusly:

big scenic nowhere

The first BIG SCENIC NOWHERE E.P. is all done! Should be out mid summer. Working on the full length now which should be out in the fall. More guest musicians too! From the BIG SCENIC NOWHERE instagram…

Our first EP is done! “Dying On The Mountain” features two songs. A 19 min space rock jam named “Dying On The Mountain (including “Altered Ages”)” featuring Gary Arce on guitar, Bob Balch on guitar, Nick Oliveri on bass and Bill Stinson on drums. Ian and Lisa from THE WELL sing the intro and outro, Tony Reed from MOS GENERATOR has a five minute track within the jam named “Altered Ages” and Per Wiberg from OPETH, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, CANDLEMASS is on keys.

The second song, “Towards The Sun” is super heavy and hooky and features Gary Arce on guitar, Bob Balch on guitar, Mario Lalli on bass and Bill Stinson on drums. Tony Reed and Thomas JĂ€ger from MONOLORD both sing on that track. Thanks to everyone involved on this EP! Should be out mid summer. Now on to the full length which will be released in the fall. More guest musicians on that one too!

https://www.instagram.com/bigscenicnowhere/
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral/
https://www.bluesfuneral.com

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Big Scenic Nowhere: Gary Arce & Bob Balch Unite in New Project

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It’s a science-fact that any relationship based on a mutual enjoyment of tacos is bound to last, and so it is that Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce and Fu Manchu‘s Bob Balch enter into partnership as a double-guitar version of Big Scenic Nowhere, a one-time Arce offshoot from Yawning Man that featured that band’s bassist Mario Lalli as well as Lalli‘s Fatso Jetson bandmate, drummer Tony Tornay. There was a demo (discussed here) that floated around the interwebs and pieces of which can still be heard on YouTube and elsewhere, but that version of Big Scenic Nowhere eventually morphed into WaterWays and that would seem to have been that for the band.

No word on whether Lalli and Tornay are involved in the new incarnation of Big Scenic Nowhere with Balch and Arce, but the project will debut as part of the PostWax subscription vinyl series — for which I write the liner notes; full disclosure — and then follow-up with a standalone LP, so it looks like we’ll find out soon enough.

The PR wire has info:

big scenic nowhere

Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) and Gary Arce (Yawning Man) to debut heavy riff-psych project BIG SCENIC NOWHERE as part of the anticipated POSTWAX subscription series.

Duo gears up for two Big Scenic Nowhere releases, starting with an exclusive PostWax release in June, then a full album later in 2019.

Blues Funeral Recordings has confirmed that BIG SCENIC NOWHERE is the last band to land a spot on the inaugural year of PostWax, its ambitious series of exclusive stoner/doom/heavy psych records that launched with a massively successful Kickstarter last November.

The brainchild of Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch and Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce, BIG SCENIC NOWHERE is a project built around massive riff-power and singular guitar atmospherics, like a soundtrack to vast canyons and endless highways that explodes with stratospheric fuzz and ambient delay.

Together, the two guitar gods are creating a heavy transmutation that’s certain to deliver for fans of both of their primary bands, and certainly to those who signed up for PostWax early on without knowing what was to come until now.

Talking about how Big Scenic Nowhere came together, Balch says:

“Gary posted a pic of Del Taco on his Facebook page, saying “it’s good to be back home” after a two month Yawning Man tour. I commented with my usual order, regular red with sour cream. I think that triggered something, because be called me minutes later saying he wanted to start a heavy rock band and wanted me involved. We jammed a few days later and it was gnarly. So many ideas. We started taking about other musicians and the list grew. I don’t want to jinx it, but this record will blow people’s minds. The riffs are super creative and the musicians involved are at the top of the genre.”

Adding to that enthusiasm, Arce says:

“Bob and I just had a mutual respect for each other’s playing. We spoke a few times about jamming together and it finally happened, two completely different approaches to the guitar but a common ground was found… a musical sweet spot of heaviness and ambient, experimental power riffs!”

The pair promise several more incredible additions to the project that it’s too early to mention, but whatever they turn out to be, PostWax subscribers will be the first to hear it when Big Scenic Nowhere is unveiled as part of the series this summer.

PostWax year one will include exclusive new releases from psych-metal boundary-breakers ELDER, Brooklyn metalgaze trio SPOTLIGHTS, apocalyptic doomsters DOMKRAFT with a guest appearance from MARK LANEGAN, and desert rock progenitors LOWRIDER, among others, with 7 records total set to land during 2019.

More info on PostWax can be found via the label at bluesfuneral.com, with additional details on the project and Big Scenic Nowhere coming soon.

https://www.instagram.com/bigscenicnowhere/
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral/
https://www.bluesfuneral.com

Big Scenic Nowhere, “Demo 1”

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PostWax: Vinyl Subscription Service Beats Crowdfunding Goal; New Music from Elder, Lowrider and Others

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I don’t get a mention in the press release or anything — hey, we can’t all be Peder Bergstrand or Mark Lanegan — but if you check the Kickstarter page for PostWax, you’ll see my name among those involved with the project. Rumor has it I’ll be contributing old-timey-style liner notes to the exclusive LP releases with likewise exclusive new music from the likes of Elder, Domkraft, Lowrider, Besvarjelsen, Spotlights and others. Seven records total in the first year and then more beyond that to come. Fucking staggering. And I’ve talked to project head Jadd Shickler, who founded MeteorCity once upon a time, currently helms Blues Funeral Recordings and does work besides for both Magnetic Eye Records and Ripple Music, about some of the packaging and design ideas he and Bergstrand have been kicking around and it’s whatever the next step beyond top of the line is. It moves the line.

I’m excited and humbled to be involved in the small way I am. Already looking forward to stressing out about the first deadline. You know the old liner notes that came with jazz records and stuff? Like that.

A press release came down announcing the thing, but even by then the Kickstarter goal was met. If you want a more direct payment option, they’ve got installment plans posted on Blues Funeral website, and I’m not gonna tell you it’s the holiday season, gift-giving, etc., but in the Great Material Continuum, there’s always room for limited vinyl. Here’s the info, and of course, expect more to come on it:

postwax logo

ELDER, SPOTLIGHTS, DOMKRAFT (feat. MARK LANEGAN) and LOWRIDER to release new records on the curated subscription series PostWax in 2019

Ultra-exclusive project offers boundary-pushing one-offs from hand-picked heavy/stoner/doom/psych notables; Kickstarter campaign under way now

This week, Blues Funeral Recordings launched a Kickstarter for their groundbreaking new vinyl subscription project PostWax, a series of limited edition records with jaw-dropping artwork and next-level design for fans of stoner/doom/heavy/psych metal.

Smashing their initial goal within 36 hours of going live, the Kickstarter continues until December 9th.

Before joining Magnetic Eye Records in 2016, original MeteorCity founder Jadd Shickler was already contemplating a return to the music industry.

MeteorCity had put out seminal releases from Nebula, Unida (with John Garcia of Kyuss), Spirit Caravan, The Atomic Bitchwax, Dozer, The Obsessed, Truckfighters, Lowrider and Solace, all under Shickler’s guidance.

After selling MeteorCity in 2008, he took a few years away from the business before the stoner/doom underground started calling to him again. But, in thinking about returning, he wanted to try something besides a traditional label model.

Envisioning what he’d want as a fan himself, Shickler conceived the idea of a curated series of records, one-off releases from an array of heavy/stoner/doom bands both notable and unknown, delivered exclusively as a subscription at regular intervals throughout the year.

The records would be crafted to appeal equally to both diehard fans of the style and dedicated collectors, with interconnecting cover art and groundbreaking design recalling archival comic book sleeves.

Two years later, and the idea has taken shape in the form of PostWax, now enveloped within new label Blues Funeral Recordings and pushed to ambitious heights with the addition of world-class creative Peder Bergstrand to the team.

In assembling the first year of PostWax releases, the goal was to pull together a dizzying cross-section of phenomenal recognizable bands and impressive newcomers, such that subscribers could reliably sit back and wait, confident that everything coming their way throughout the year would hit that sonic sweet spot.

PostWax year one will include exclusive new releases from Brooklyn metalgazers SPOTLIGHTS, apocalyptic doomsters DOMKRAFT with a guest appearance by MARK LANEGAN, and desert rock progenitors LOWRIDER, among others, with 7 records total set to land during 2019.

The series kicks off in February with all-new music from ELDER.

For their release, Elder made a stop in the midst of a European tour last month, entering a Berlin studio for three days of focused jamming to channel the mid-tour high. Their goal was to explore a different side of the band through a change of scenery, with lots of psychedelic ideas flowing and no experiment too weird to try. The result is something very different than the band has ever done, a perfect way to launch something as unique as PostWax.

Notably, the PostWax project also has a humanitarian component, with a portion of profits being donated to support youth music education. From the Kickstarter description:

“In an era when music and arts programs are being increasingly eliminated by school budget cuts and kids are learning about music from Kidzbop and Tik Tok, we want to help make sure kids still have the chance to learn how to play and write real rock music on real instruments.

With that in mind, a chunk of the profits generated by PostWax will be donated to support youth music education programs. There’s nothing extra you need to spend or do, just know that part of the cost of your subscription will go toward this important cause that we really believe in.”

The Kickstarter for PostWax can be found here, with plenty of details about the project to outline what subscribers can expect.

Multi-payment subscription options are also being offered via the label at bluesfuneral.com/, and more details will be revealed in the coming days.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bluesfuneral/postwax-a-curated-heavy-music-vinyl-subscription-s
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral/
bluesfuneral.com

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