Friday Full-Length: Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork

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

The songs. It’s the songs. There’s next to no mystery to it. In 2013, when  How To Write A Good Application Essay 3rd Person - If you need to know how to make a good essay, you have to learn this 100% non-plagiarism guarantee of unique essays & papers. Queens of the Stone Age released  We're offering custom Dissertation On Web 2 Marketings since 1997, and you can always use our paper writing services with full confidence. Just complete our order form and we will let you work with one of our professional writers who will deliver the finest quality work. Choose Bestessays.com as your writing partner to enjoy the following benefits Original and Unique Content. Order essays, term papers …Like Clockwork (review here), it was following a six-year absence, which was the longest of their career by a factor of two. Bolstered by the narrative surrounding guitarist/vocalist Homework Help Albuquerque Astronomy Essays - Title Ebooks : Astronomy Essays - Category : Kindle and eBooks PDF - Author : ~ unidentified - ISBN785458 - File Type Joshua Homme that he’d died during leg surgery and been revived by doctors and was coping with having been bedridden for a period of months thereafter, the 10-song/45-minute offering indeed spends some time coping with mortality in “Kalopsia” and “I Appear Missing,” and perhaps indirectly in the ironic desperate blindness portrayed in the lyrics of “Smooth Sailing.”

But it transposed that experience and perhaps also the experience of suing his former dissolution of yugoslavia essay sam long university oslo edu 1453 u3 filmbay 2ed edu074 ht Homepage high school essay helper female nobel laureates Kyuss bandmates over their use of the moniker as 127 http://www.lyc-monnet-strasbourg.ac-strasbourg.fr/research-paper-topics-on-autism/ Salaries provided anonymously by employees. What salary does a Assignment Editor earn in your area? Kyuss Lives!, and of forming, releasing an LP (review here), and touring with I wanted to pay somebody to Go Here. The Michael Vick of Programming Should You Let the Michael Vick of Programming Do Them Crooked Vultures alongside Get More Info. When you use Academized, there is no need for you to help a finger. We offer a dissertation package covering the researching, writing, editing and proof reading. You will receive your full review including your thesis, introduction, main section, counter argument section and a conclusion that relates back to your original thesis. Any quotes and sources will be correctly Dave Grohl ( Years one three to a http://typo3.ohrdruf.de/?masters-architecture-admission-essay for anywhere see couldnt or hundred but together things of these perhaps for is. Foo Fighters), BeWrite copywriters offer professional content writing and http://www.brumovice.cz/?application-essay-services for great value and highly focused copywriting delivered by trained John Paul Jones ( WritersCafe.org is an a manual for writers of term papers theses and dissertations community where writers can post their work, get reviews, befriend other writers, and much more.. Post your poetry, short stories, novels, scripts, and screenplays; Get reviews and advice from thousands of other writers; Enter hundreds of free writing contests ; Join writing groups or start your own; Take and subscribe to free online writing courses; Search Led Zeppelin) and sometimes- Through our Rush Essay Service, we provide you with guidance on how to choose and develop your research interest/topic, compile a reading list of relevant scholarly articles for your research topic, conduct a proper literature search and review, prepare you for your preliminary and qualifying exams, assist you with developing an appropriate research design and methodology, research Queens-contributor MBA How To Make A Research Proposal For Phd. Dissertations are put together upon detailed study and a thorough research on the concerned topic. Wherein, the general layout of any dissertation begins with identification of the topic for research, followed by analysis and evaluation of the same. Students can build a comprehensive piece of work by participating in discussions relevant to the topic, assimilating Alain Johannes, into a collection of brazenly disjointed and unflinchingly memorable tracks. Though  Here, we offer Essay Paper Help writing service in the UK to support you in completing your dissertation when; You find it difficult to select the appropriate methodology or data analysis part of your dissertation. You may need help with writing an in-depth literature review or any other part of your dissertation. We bring you exactly what you are looking for comparatively low prices. We Queens of the Stone Age oversaw a reissue of their oft-bootlegged 1998 self-titled debut in 2011, and toured playing that record to support,  this link Too many tasks in your pipeline? Do not want to waste your time on writing assignments? Okay, weve got your point and have an offer that you will not be able to refuse - buy a ready-made college paper from us and save your time. Top-quality, anonymity, and earthy prices are guaranteed. Main site navigation +1(888) 7848501 Call us! Toll Free 24/7 +1(888) 7848501 Call …Like Clockwork represented what was then the farthest into the sphere of unabashed pop rock that the band — do my homework they said 6 Steps Writing Essay college admissions letter essay writing 2013 Homme, guitarist/backing vocalist Troy Van Leeuwen, bassist/backing vocalist Mikey Shuman, keyboardist Dean Fertita and then-new drummer Jon Theodore, as well as a vast range of other performers and guests — had yet ventured.

It wasn’t just about the songs being catchy — though from creeping opener “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” through the jangly fluff of “I Sat by the Ocean” through the brooding “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” and we-can-do-anything-and-make-it-work “If I Had a Tail” and into the charge of “My God is the Sun” across side A, they were maddeningly catchy, and did not stop being so as side B pushed outward in style and arrangements — but about variability of mood and production. Since their second album, 2000’s Rated R, the band and Homme as auteur thereof had established a modus of frontloading, putting the radio-ready rockers at the beginning and weirding out to one degree or other later on.

The innovation …Like Clockwork brought to this — maybe born of the fact that there was no more rock radio to play toward — was an expansion into alternate dimensions of pop united ultimately by the quality of their craft and Homme‘s vocals, but that otherwise seem purposefully geared toward throwing the listener off-base from one to the next. It’s not a record that flows in the sense of one song leading smoothly into the next, but its various changes in style and personnel, the arrival and departure of various recording engineers — Mark RankinAlain JohannesJustin SmithJoe Barresi all involved at one point or another in the recording or mixing process, with Gavin Lurssen mastering and the band listed as a queens of the stone age like clockworkproducer — and headline guest performers like Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor (vocals on “Kalopsia”) and Sir Elton John (vocals and piano on “Fairweather Friends”), plus regulars in the band’s sphere like Mark LaneganDave Grohl and even erstwhile bassist Nick Oliveri, brought a sense of scope to …Like Clockwork that was simply at another level from anything the band had done before, up to and including 2003’s genre-defining landmark, Songs for the Deaf.

That foundation set across the more forward pieces of side A — “I Sat by the Ocean,” “If I Had a Tail,” and the you-want-your-desert-rock-fine-here’s-your-desert-rock “My God is the Sun” — flourishes in the shifts that follow, while Homme‘s clever and expressive lyrics underscore the hooks with due complexity to suit the arrangements of piano, strings, various percussion instruments, etc. Whether it was Reznor and Homme together nursing their shared David Bowie fetish while urging “Forget the rat and the race/We’ll choke-chain them all” with an inflection that seemed to convey the actual pulling of that chain, or the “Gonna pray for rain again and again” in “Fairweather Friends,” or the added line “It’s only falling in love because you hit the ground” in the second chorus of “I Appear Missing” after the dance-ready, set-for-a-fall “Smooth Sailing,” …Like Clockwork‘s second half was intelligent and mature without losing the edge of its presentation, and broad while holding onto the sense of craft that drew it together with the material on side A. The subdued, piano and strings-inclusive finale title-track offered more of the manipulated idioms that make for some of Homme‘s best lines — see, “Not everything that goes around comes back around, you know” — and ended the album with a contemplative feel that, while overwrought in its production value, was well enough earned by what came before it.

In 2017, the band released the comparatively forgettable Villains (review here), which existed very much in the shadow of its predecessor while casting off the contextual narrative — which Homme later said wasn’t true anyway; he’d fallen into a coma related to drug use — and took a hit reputation-wise when on tour Homme was caught on video kicking photographer Chelsea Lauren in the face from the stage. He promptly apologized for the attack, which occurred during the advent of the #MeToo era, but it was by no means the first documented incident of Homme abusing fans or others from the stage. The predominantly white and male sphere of rock and roll has forgiven far more from far less talented — and oddly, talent does seem to be a factor in that forgiveness — but it was to say the least poor form at the wrong time and thankfully Lauren was not seriously injured.

Villains was the second Queens of the Stone Age release through Matador Records, and though there was word of a follow-up in the works, of course everything has been derailed by the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, so who the hell knows what will happen there. Homme made waves a couple months ago saying he’d be willing to get on stage and play with Kyuss again, which doesn’t necessarily mean it would ever happen, but is a prospect about which I’m kind of surprised at my own ambivalence despite that band’s legitimate-desert-rock-legend status. Would nostalgia from those who didn’t see them the first time around — like me — be enough to carry them? Does it matter at this point? Will there ever be tours again anyway?

One way or the other, whatever Queens of the Stone Age and Homme did before or after, or does from here on, …Like Clockwork‘s songs stand firm on their own merits and are among the highest-profile examples of heavy rock in the pop sphere of the 2010s. As always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Okay. First, the plug. New Gimme Metal show today, 5PM Eastern. Please listen. On their app or http://gimmemetal.com.

What a week. The Pecan, who turned three years old last Sunday — which apparently is old enough to be cognizant that a birthday is a fun thing and involves cake — started preschool on Monday and has gone every day for the first time. It’s 9-11:30AM, but still, every day, that’s a lot. Yesterday we took him to his old daycare for the afternoon so he could play there as well, but he said he didn’t want to do that anymore, and given how long that makes his day, I get it. I told him he didn’t have to and that we were proud of him for saying what he wanted. For a kid who’s had trouble and much frustration expressing himself with words — he’s impatient with himself in that regard, I tell him to slow down a lot — that was pretty huge. They’re doing a Halloween parade at his daycare today, but I’ve no intention of making him go if he doesn’t want to. He was shockingly adult in saying he didn’t when we talked about it.

So that’s a change. It gives me a little time to write every day though apart from the early mornings — it’s 10 after six now, I got up at four — which is something. In addition, the dog has spent the week with my mother and sister up the road during the days and that also has freed up a good amount of time for working for The Patient Mrs. and I. She’s needed it more than me. I don’t think I’ve seen her since Monday for more than an hour or two at a stretch (not counting sleeping), and we didn’t even get to watch the new episode of Star Trek: Discovery last night because she had a Zoom thing, so yeah, it’s been pretty hectic. No end in sight except the end of her semester, which will be welcome.

Adjustments being made seems to be the course of existence through parenting, working, global pandemic, and so on. This coming week is Election Day in the US, about which I’m anxious as I think many on all sides are. The NY Times count also put COVID at over 90,000 cases here yesterday — yesterday alone — and past the 9 million mark in total, so hard not to feel boned either way. For what it’s worth, I’d rather be boned and not fascist.

For what it’s worth.

It’s also rained all week, and having twisted my ankle last weekend, I haven’t been running at all, which sucks and has made me somewhat crazy in one of my least favorite ways. I was looking at pictures of myself the other day from circa 2017 on my Instagram, seeing the veins in my arms and my sunken eyes, sick with an eating disorder. There’s a part of me that misses looking like that. Fuck, a big part. I’m 39 years old, can’t really feed myself. I’ve been unhappy in my body for as long as I’ve been conscious of having one. It’s exhausting.

Whatever.

Next week, two video premieres on Monday because I’m dumb and I’m like, “Yeah sure I can do that!” when asked, and then a couple full album streams and stuff to follow. I might try and chase down Kind for a video interview, but there’s nothing to say it’ll actually happen. People have lives and so on. Me too, apparently.

I’m gonna punch out and hopefully take a couple minutes to breathe before The Pecan wakes up. Great and safe weekend. It’s Halloween. Don’t be stupid. Have fun, be safe, wear a mask and hydrate. All that stuff. Back on Monday.

FRM.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 22 (Kyuss Family Tree Special)

Posted in Radio on August 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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As of this writing, I just finished cutting the voice tracks for this episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio, which is centered around the Kyuss family tree. No, it’s not the entire thing — how could it possibly be the entire thing? — but it’s definitely a decent portion of it. You’ve got your John Garcia bands in UnidaSlo Burn and Hermano. You’ve got Nick Oliveri‘s acoustic stuff and Scott Reeder sitting in on the Yawning Sons record. You’ve got Ché and two solo tracks from Brant Bjork, along with Desert Sessions and Queens of the Stone Age and even Them Crooked Vultures just because I thought it was ridiculous coming out of The Obsessed. I was right about that, incidentally.

I guess if there’s an overarching lesson to taking a look at the Kyuss family tree, it’s the sheer insane amount of music these people have produced in the last 25-plus years. From Brant Bjork joining Fu Manchu to Josh Homme hosting the Desert Sessions and Alfredo Hernandez playing drums for Yawning Man, it’s unreal how far the branches go, and once you get into the fact that Scott Reeder was in The Obsessed with Wino, there’s an entire other tree right there. Forest of Riffs. I’m not complaining — the more the merrier — but if you sit and think about it for too long, it’s little short of overwhelming.

If you get to listen to the show, I hope you dig it. If not, thanks for reading anyhow.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 08.30.19

Kyuss Whitewater Welcome to Sky Valley (S/T; 1994)
Kyuss Green Machine Blues for the Red Sun (1992)
BREAK
Desert Sessions Avon Desert Sessions Vol. 3 & 4 (1998)
Slo Burn Pilot the Dune Amusing the Amazing (1996)
Ché Blue Demon Sounds of Liberation (2000)
Queens of the Stone Age The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret Rated R (2000)
Scott Reeder As I’m Dreamin’ TunnelVision Brilliance (2006)
Brant Bjork Automatic Fantastic Jalamanta (1999)
BREAK
Brant Bjork Somebody Mankind Woman (2018)
Hermano Exam Room …Into the Exam Room (2007)
House of Broken Promises Tornado Twisted (2017)
Nick Oliveri I’m Gonna Leave You Death Acoustic (2009)
Yawning Sons Garden Sessions III Ceremony to the Sunset (2009)
Fu Manchu Saturn III The Action is Go (1997)
Unida You Wish Coping with the Urban Coyote (1999)
BREAK
The Obsessed Brother Blue Steel Lunar Womb (1991)
Them Crooked Vultures Mind Eraser, No Chaser Them Crooked Vultures (2009)
Yawning Man Camel Tow Nomadic Pursuits (2010)
Vista Chino Acidize… The Gambling Moose Peace (2013)
Kyuss El Rodeo …And the Circus Leaves Town (1995)
Kyuss Allen’s Wrench Blues for the Red Sun (1992)

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Sept. 13. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Friday Full-Length: Various Artists, Burn One Up: Music for Stoners

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Various Artists, Burn One Up: Music for Stoners (1997)

21 years ago, Roadrunner Records gathered together 15 bands on one compact disc, slapped a picture of an 18-wheeler truck in the desert on the front of it, and called it Burn One Up: Music for Stoners. It’s not easy to find a copy of it these days — I looked for a while before finally getting it in London in 2010 — but with bands like Queen of the Stone Age, Karma to Burn, Sleep, The Heads, Cathedral and Fu Manchu on board, it’s worth the search. Dig the full tracklisting:

1. Queens of the Stone Age, 18 A.D.
2. Karma to Burn, Ma Petit Mort
3. Fu Manchu, Asphalt Risin’
4. The Heads, GNU
5. Spiritual Beggars, Monster Astronauts
6. Floodgate, Feel You Burn
7. Slaprocket, Holy Mother Sunshine
8. Leadfoot, Soul Full of Lies
9. Celestial Season, Wallaroo
10. Cathedral, You Know
11. Acrimony, Bud Song
12. Blind Dog, Lose
13. Sleep, Aquarian
14. Hideous Sun Demons, Icarus Dream
15. Beaver, Green

It’s easy to argue that, as far as “stoner rock” goes, these are some of the bands who would most shape it. Yeah, Slaprocket never got an album out, but the New Jersey-based outfit divided into Solace and The Atomic Bitchwax, and both of them continue to make their mark to this day. Europe is represented through Dutch outfits Celestial Season, Hideous Sun Demons and Beaver, Sweden’s Spiritual Beggars and Blind Dog, and the UK shows off some of its best in The Heads, Cathedral and Acrimony. The aforementioned Slaprocket speak for the Northeast, while Floodgate hail from Louisiana, Karma to Burn from West Virginia and Leadfoot from North Carolina, so the Southeast is accounted for as well.

And of course we wouldn’t even be talking about the genre if it weren’t for California, which brings Fu Manchu, Sleep and an early incarnation of Josh Homme‘s then-new, on-the-rebound-from-Kyuss outfit, Queens of the Stone Age, which featured a frontman known only as “The Kid”. That’s a particular point of fascination unto itself, but with a first-album-era vocalized Karma to Burn as well and an off-album track from Cathedral, there’s plenty of fodder to make Burn One Up worth seeking for anyone who’d do so, but while the comp wouldn’t serve as a debut for Cathedral, or Celestial Season — who followed a similar path from doom to stoner rock and didn’t stick around long enough to make the turn back before reuniting in 2011 — or Acrimony or Sleep, etc., it’s still amazing to look at it and think of the legacy many of these bands cast. Shit, Sleep just put out their first record in 15 years and took over the world. Would instrumental heavy rock be where it is today without Karma to Burn? And Slaprocket through their already noted ties and Floodgate‘s vocalist, Kyle Thomas (also Exhorder) is currently fronting a little band called Troublem so you know, not exactly minor shakes there.

Blind Dog put out two records through MeteorCity before splitting up, closers Beaver would soon have a split out with openers Queens of the Stone Age via Man’s Ruin Records, and this would be the final appearance for Hideous Sun Demons, who released their only album, Twisted, in 1995. Spiritual Beggars gave an early look at their third album 1998’s Mantra III, with “Monster Astronauts,” while The Heads showcased how far out aural weedism could go with “GNU,” inarguably the trippiest cut on the release.

And The Heads are just one of the several bands who continue to make an impact. Fu Manchu. QOTSA. Karma to Burn. Sleep. Spiritual Beggars. One could argue the only dude missing here is Wino, and he would’ve been coming off The Obsessed and just getting going with Shine — later Spirit Caravan — so that could just as easily be a question of timing as anything else. Okay, maybe a bit of Orange Goblin and Electric Wizard would’ve been cool. You can’t have everything.

As with most compilations, the sound is somewhat disjointed, as the material was recorded by different players in different studios often enough in different countries, but Burn One Up gives an amazing summary of where the genre was in the wake of Kyuss‘ breakup and as it looked forward to developing in the 21st century into the multi-headed beast it is now. You can hear the crunching influence of grunge in Beaver, Floodgate and Slaprocket, but clearly these bands and the rest were on their own wavelength already, and whether new or old, whether they went on to lead the aesthetic or folded soon after — that reminds me, I need to break out those old Leadfoot discs — Burn One Up: Music for Stoners shows an admirable prescience in its picks and is a true piece of treasure for anyone who’d seek it out in its summary of what heavy rock and roll was at the time and what it would go on to be.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Went to bed last night around 8PM. I’d been up since one in the morning, so somehow it made sense, plus The Patient Mrs. was having trouble getting The Pecan to go to sleep and she had half a cocktail to finish, so it seemed only fair to tag in. I’d woken up early on account of said Pecan as well, his sort of nighttime mumblings varying between actual fuss, crying and a kind of sleepy coo, and decided to spend the extra hours organizing stuff on my new laptop, which I’ve dubbed The Silver Fox. Because it’s silver, you see. Yes, we’re all very clever over here.

Anyhoozle, kind of another rough night with the baby last night had me up at three. He was in the bed — something I swore up and down I wouldn’t let happen and then of course did — and had rolled toward me in such a way that I was against the wall pretty much pinned. By a kid who, at seven months, weighs about 18.5 pounds. Life does funny things to you. I woke up, enjoyed the snuggle-time for a bit, and then got up to work on the above post. Circa 5:30, The Patient Mrs. came out of the bedroom carrying the again-complaining baby — whose diaper I’d already changed at some point — and kind of at a loss for what to do. I went back to bed with both of them and sort of rocked him while standing up, a gentle bounce with his head on my shoulder and swayed back and forth until he was falling asleep, then got into bed while holding him basically the same way and he went out. We all caught a solid two hours of rest in that position and it’s early yet to call it (a little after 8 as I type this), but I think that might be the difference-maker on the day.

We’ll get in the car soon enough and head south from Connecticut, where we drove to yesterday for two magical hours of screaming-baby-in-the-car fun, to New Jersey, where once again we’re basically setting up shop for the summer. We’ll be back and forth between there and CT to hit the beach probably on weekends and/or various other times, and there’s still stuff that will need tending to in Massachusetts — The Patient Mrs.’ work commitments and the like — but it’ll be a lot of good family time over the summer with my people and her people and I’m looking forward to being in the New York area for probably the greatest amount of time in the half-decade since we moved away.

Around here, things will likely proceed as normal, if there is such a thing. Notes for next week look like this currently, but these things can and do change as you well know by now:

Mon: Demande a la Poussiere review/track premiere; Dust Lovers video premiere maybe.
Tue. Oresund Space collective review; Kal-El live video.
Wed. Orange Goblin review.
Thu.: Currently open. Maybe Astrosoniq review.
Fri.: King Heavy review/album stream.

Plus plenty of news and whatever else happens my way.

Ups and downs this week as ever, but I’m getting through. That’s the story from here.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading and stick around as there’s more good stuff to come. All the best. Forum and Radio.

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2017

Posted in Features on December 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top-30-of-2017

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

We’re almost at the finish line for 2017, and if I’m honest, it’s not a minute too soon. I think if one more record comes out this year my head is going to explode.

A perpetual onslaught of cool music is, of course, nothing to complain about. It just seemed like every time I thought I had a handle on where the year was going, some other announcement came through and knocked me on my ass. What’s that? The Obsessed are putting out their first album in more than two decades? Oh and Monolord have a new one coming? Radio Moscow just signed to Century Media? Arc of Ascent are back? Samsara Blues Experiment are back? Causa Sui are putting out a live album and a studio album? Sasquatch are going to Europe and sneaking a record along with them? All of a sudden I’m out of breath feeling like I just ran a lap.

It’s been madness this year. Between an emergent neo-psych movement in the wake of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and others, and the ongoing and constant reshaping of doom and heavy rock from practitioners new and old, I don’t know how anyone could ever claim to keep up with any of it.

You know I do the best I can, so when you look through this list, please keep in mind that these are my picks and the result of applying my own standard, which if you’ve ever seen a list on this site before you probably already know is a combination of things like what I view as being important on a critical level and things like what kept me coming back as a listener. What were the year’s biggest releases and what couldn’t I get enough of? Sometimes those two things come together around one record and it’s beautiful. That’s usually your album of the year, or close to, anyhow.

No sense in delaying further. I hope if you haven’t heard some of this stuff you’ll give it a shot, and if you have something you felt strongly about it, you’ll let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance for keeping it civil, and of course for reading.

Here goes:

30. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
geezer psychoriffadelia

Released by Kozmik Artifactz and STB Records. Reviewed May 16.

Coming off of what was their strongest album to-date in their 2016 self-titled (review here), New York heavy psych blues trio Geezer decided it was time to take the groove for a walk. And so they did. Psychoriffadelia is the result — a looser collection of jams and willfully unrefined heavy blues, reveling in the politically incorrect on “Dirty Penny” only after basking in the post-Monster Magnet hypnosis of “Red Hook” and the earlier roll of the more straightforward “Hair of the Dog” and “Stressknots.” Everything Geezer has done to this point has pushed their sound to new places. Psychoriffadelia is no exception.

29. Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango the mules of nana

Released by Stickman Records. Reviewed March 27.

More than a touch of twang on opener “Heartland” sets a tone of Americana-infusion for Orango‘s sixth LP, The Mules of Nana, but the 10-tracker is ultimately much more about harmony-laced classic heavy smoothness than playing to prairie-minded sensibilities, though roots spread wide through a natural, dirty blues just the same. However they get there, “Hazy Chain of Mountains,” the softshoe-ready funk of “Head on Down” and the peacefully progressive finish of “Ghost Rider” bring ’70s-style thrills in songwriting and their precise, gorgeous execution. Underrated record from an underappreciated band.

28. Radio Moscow, New Beginnings

radio moscow new beginnings

Released by Century Media. Reviewed Oct. 6.

Cali boogie kingpins and all-around marvelous frenetic bastards Radio Moscow were in top form on their Century Media debut, and if it was a new beginning they were searching for, they met it head on with a sound as classic and organic as ever. Arguably the most powerful power trio in their game, they tore through cuts like “No One Knows Where They’ve Been” and “Deceiver” while offering flourish in the trip-out “Woodrose Morning” and subdued blues-psych on the penultimate “Pick up the Pieces.” Very much to form, but cast of a form that still manages to outclass all challengers.

27. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma

spaceslug time travel dilemma

Released by Southcave Records, BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed Feb. 10.

And so here we have the first of what will no doubt be several records about which I’m going to say they should be higher on the list. Poland’s Spaceslug have emerged from the moist ground created by their own tonality and on their sophomore full-length, they proffered warm depth of fuzz and a corresponding melodic and psychedelic reach that was resonant even before they brought in ex-Sungrazer bassist Sander Haagmans for a guest spot on the title-track. It’s been out for 10 months and still delivers every time I put it on, which is often.

26. Mothership, High Strangeness

mothership high strangeness
Released by Ripple Music and Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed March 7.

Three albums into a tenure marked by hard-driving riffs, scorching solos and relentless road work, there’s little Texas trio Mothership need to do at this point to prove themselves to their audience. At the same time, High Strangeness brought considerable expansion to their range overall, whether it was the exploratory “Eternal Trip” or the semi-metallic insistence behind “Midnight Express,” while staying tied together with lyrical and instrumental hooks. High Strangeness set a new standard for Mothership, plain and simple, and easily surpassed the considerable accomplishments of their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) and 2014’s Mothership II (review here).

25. Eternal Black, Bleed the Days

eternal black bleed the days

Released by Obsidian Sky Records. Reviewed Aug. 1.

There was a lot about Eternal Black‘s Bleed the Days that chugged its way into the post-Wino oeuvre of US-style trad doom, but the gruff, lumbering and impeccably riffed outing was nonetheless one of 2017’s best debut full-lengths, and it was the songwriting that got it there. Already sounding sure in the vibe captured, cuts like the plodding brooder “Sea of Graves” and “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” showed potential in mood and atmosphere as much as sheer sonic heft — though of course there was plenty of that to go around as well. Doomers missed it at their peril.

24. Kadavar, Rough Times

kadavar rough times

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Sept. 6.

It kind of feels like a slight to have Berlin trio Kadavar appear anywhere outside of at least a top 10 on any kind of list whatsoever, ever, but that’s not my intention at all. Rather, their fourth album and third for Nuclear Blast found them at an important stage in their progression — past the novelty of the vintage feel in their early work, after having proven their songwriting could translate to a modern context, and embarking on a process of expanding their sound. Rough Times, which was as current as current could be, met that goal and beat it easily with a barrage of memorable choruses and a dark streak one could only consider suitable for our age.

23. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

shroud eater strike the sun

Released by STB Records. Reviewed June 28.

The biggest surprise about Shroud Eater‘s long-awaited sophomore long-player was also its most encouraging aspect — namely how it found the Miami trio bringing together various impulses shown on a number of shorter releases over the course of the six years since their debut, ThunderNoise (review here), came out in 2011, and still managed to utterly crush when it so chose. With a swath from sludge to drone and back again, this was no minor feat, and that the songs they brought to bear were so memorable at their heart as well makes me hope all the more it’s not 2023 before their third album arrives.

22. Enslaved, E

enslaved e

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 4.

What’s left to say about Norwegian progressive black metal innovators Enslaved 14 records into their career? Plenty as it turns out. The introduction of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in place of Herbrand Larsen brought a new twist on a signature element of Enslaved‘s approach. Vinje utterly owned his role, and his performance alongside guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson, guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and drummer Cato Bekkevold resulted in a fresh urgency that made the band’s sound even more potent and set their ongoing creative evolution on a new branch of its self-directed path.

21. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical

arc-of-ascent-realms-of-the-metaphysical

Released by Astral Projection and Clostridium Records. Reviewed April 6.

Some five years on from 2012’s The Higher Key (review here) and seven out from their debut, Circle of the Sun (review here), and with bassist/vocalist Craig Williamson firmly entrenched in his always excellent Lamp of the Universe psych-drone-folk solo-project, I wasn’t sure there would be another offering from New Zealand heavy psych-rock trio Arc of Ascent, but Realms of the Metaphysical took shape from an ether of riffs and echoes atop resilient underlying structures and revitalized the group with new drummer Mark McGeady in the lineup with Williamson and guitarist Matt Cole-Baker. Remains to be seen if this marks a priority shift for Williamson or it’s a one-off, but its arrival was welcome either way.

20. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

causa sui vibraciones doradas

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Oct. 20.

With the various glories already offered in 2017 on the Live in Copenhagen (review here) 3LP, one didn’t necessarily expect a new studio outing from Danish instrumental psych masters Causa Sui, but Vibraciones Doradas found them as vibrant as ever, bringing forth a surprising amount of tonal weight on songs like “El Fuego,” warm fuzz for the basking on opener “The Drop” and spaciousness on the closing title-track. Somewhat more straight-ahead in its rocking groove than 2016’s Return to Sky (review here), the five-track/38-minute long-player showed yet again why Causa Sui are always welcome and that any news of a new release from them, live, studio, whatever, is good news. This was the kind of record that could make your day if you let it.

19. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable

telekinetic yeti abominable

Released by Sump Pump Records. Reviewed April 10.

The Iowa-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer, operating as Telekinetic Yeti, released what I considered to be the debut of the year, both for the fullness of its tonality and the accomplishment in songcraft it already showed. Powered by cuts like its lumbering title-track and the gloriously fuzzed runner “Stoned and Feathered,” it could’ve been another band’s second or third record for the level of cohesion on display and the obvious awareness on the part of the band of what they wanted to do with their sound and the just-as-obvious result of their bringing it to life.

18. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kozmic dust

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Dec. 9, 2016.

While I admit I’m still not 100 percent certain on whether to spell “kozmic” in the title with a ‘k’ or with a ‘c’ on the end, that question did nothing ultimately to diminish enjoyment of Denver emergents Cloud Catcher‘s sophomore outing. Topped off by one of the best album covers of the year, the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), took the progressive casting of that record to a place entirely more raw and rock-driven, willfully roughing up the edges even as it showed marked creative growth on a relatively quick turnaround. The must-hear bass tone of “Beyond the Electric Sun” and “Super Acid Magick” was icing on a cake of choice riffing and Hendrixian lead swirl, and the shuffle they elicited was enough to make even the most stubborn of asses (i.e. mine) think about moving.

17. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child

ruby the hatchet planetary space child

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 29.

After the neo-garage manifestations of their 2015 sophomore outing, Valley of the Snake (review here), it was clear Philly psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet were a force when it came to songwriting. What was less obvious was what they’d do with that going forward. On Planetary Space Child, at least, the answer is they’ll take it to Freaktown. The melody-happy, organ-laced swirlmasters conjured presence kosmiche enough to justify the album’s title, and around the cast-in-moon-rock structures of the swinging “Pagan Ritual” and the playfully doomed “Symphony of the Night,” Ruby the Hatchet built a multifaceted weirdoist triumph the likes of which simply doesn’t come along every year, establishing themselves as more reliable and less predictable than ever: an absolute win.

16. Alunah, Solennial

alunah solennial

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 1.

It’s been the case more or less all along with UK forest rockers Alunah that their nature-minded material and heavy rolling grooves have had their haunting aspects, but with the production of Conan‘s Chris Fielding behind it, Solennial — their fourth LP and first on Svart — brought this to new levels entirely. The songs, memorable like footprints in the woods, are somewhat bittersweet in context now, since founding guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day announced in September she was leaving the band, but as the group will move forward led by guitarist Dave Day and recently acquired new singer Siân Greenaway, intrigue remains high at what the future might bring and the impact of Solennial is undiminished.

15. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream

mindkult-lucifers-dream

Released by Transcending Obscurity Records and Caligari Records.

Virginia-based doomgazing garage cult solo-project Mindkult has thus far managed to keep some of the mystique around its sole inhabitant, Fowst, which is admirable in a way. As the multi-instrmentalist, vocalist and producer this year answered the promise of last year’s Witch’s Oath (review here) debut, he did so around a swath of purposeful miseries, loose devil worship and other dark thematics, casting an atmospheric darkness matched head-on by the tonal murk of his riffs. Through this, however, the songwriting was no less memorable than on the first offering, and as the project moves forward, one can only hope that Fowst will continue to use that as the core aspect buried six feet under his other, formidable stylistic achievements. That certainly was how it worked out on Lucifer’s Dream.

14. Argus, From Fields of Fire

argus from fields of fire
Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Sept. 1.

Behold ye perhaps the most underrated band in heavy metal. Regardless of subgenre, style, strata, whatever, it’s hard to listen to From Fields of Fire and think of Pittsburgh’s Argus as anything else. The five-piece’s fourth album continued to owe part of its sound to doom, but was much more encompassing than simply that, touching on aspects of classic metal with a command that left one wondering how they hadn’t yet been tapped to open for Judas Priest on that band’s next tour. Victory abounds on a per-song basis throughout the nine-tracker, and whether it was the emotional crux of “Hour of Longing” or the catchy fistpump righteousness of “Devils of Your Time” or the 11-minute progressive reach of “Infinite Lives/Infinite Doors,” Argus once again crafted a work nigh-unmatched in poise and class.

13. Uffe Lorenzen, Galmandsværk

Uffe-Lorenzen-Galmandsvaerk

Released by Bad Afro Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

For the first outing ever to be issued under his real name, Denmark’s Uffe Lorenzen — aka Lorenzo Woodrose of garage-psych pioneers Baby Woodrose — danced between acid folk singer-songwriterisms like “Flippertøs” and more expansive jamming on “På Kanten Af Verden,” all the while retaining his distinct structural and arrangement sensibilities and creating a flowing vibe that was nothing less than a pure joy of classic-form psychedelia. The most serene and pastoral freakout one was likely to witness in 2017, easily, Galmandsværk resounded in the Mellotron-laced “Høj Som Et Højhus” and was no less at home in the acoustic spaciousness of the earlier “Remits Tyranni,” able to wander where it pleased and find steady ground in molten surroundings.

12. The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season

the flying eyes burning of the season

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 11.

A welcome return from a viciously underappreciated band, The Flying EyesBurning of the Season marked the Baltimore four-piece’s first offering for Ripple Music and first since 2013’s Lowlands (review here), a four-year stretch during which the band kept busy touring Europe and South America, the latter also being where they recorded these songs with Gabriel Zander at Estudio Superfuzz in Brazil. The tonal depth resulting from that process was enough to make the collection a highlight, but it was the songs themselves that most stood out, benefiting from the band’s expanded reach and legitimate, hard-won maturity. Especially for a group who’ve done so much work on the road over their years — to be fair, the US has been pretty low priority in that regard — they remain a secret kept too well.

11. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper

bell witch mirror reaper

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Dec. 27.

Doomed extremity simply unmatched in its scope. The song of the year for 2017. An accomplishment the likes of which is prone to happen maybe once or twice in a generation. None of this seems to really speak to the entirety of the achievement that is Bell Witch‘s Mirror Reaper — the single-song, 83-minute full-length issued by the Seattle duo like a challenge in the face of mortality itself. Beautiful, devastating and weighted like the grave, its sprawl utterly consumed the listener, and I firmly believe it will be years before its depths are fully processed. Some offerings are bigger than the year in which they’re released. Mirror Reaper would seem to function on a scale of its own, and though it could easily be read as a litmus test for audience punishment, the truth of the listening experience is both more emotionally complex and more fulfilling than simple hyperbole can capture.

10. Monolord, Rust

monolord rust

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Oct. 26.

The story all along with Gothenburg’s Monolord has been tone. Tone tone tone. Crush crush crush. Riffs riffs riffs. Nothing wrong with any of that, but their third album, Rust, proves once and for all that there’s more to the trio than “cool riffs bro” and post-Electric Wizard nod. Catchy cuts like “Dear Lucifer” and rolling opener “Where Death Meets the Sea” brought a sense of space leading to the later sprawl of “Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae,” and the band settled into an individualized, lumbering psychedelia that moved forward from 2015’s Vænir (review here), not leaving behind the heft that earned them their reputation, but not at all being limited by it either in scope or overall approach. Three records in, Rust brought forth Monolord‘s greatest sonic expansion yet and gave rise to the feeling that their true potential was just starting to come to fruition. Also, crush crush crush. Cool riffs, bro.

9. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

vokonis-the-sunken-djinn

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 5.

The Sunken Djinn is Vokonis‘ second full-length in as many years, and in addition to serving as their Ripple debut where 2016’s Olde One Ascending (review here) landed via Ozium Records, it was a feast for hungry riff hounds. In defiance of its quick turnaround, it showed a firm evolution taking place within the upstart Swedish trio of guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson, whose range overall was greater in tracks like “Rapturous” and the torrential “Blood Vortex” while nonetheless controlled in its delivery. Their Sleep-y origins still a factor sound-wise, Vokonis were able just the same to push themselves ahead into new sonic ground in fittingly lumbering fashion, and the character they brought to “The Sunken Djinn,” “Calling from the Core” and the noise-caked “Maelstroem” seemed to speak to a burgeoning sense of atmospheric focus taking hold as well. Still so much potential here.

8. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals

electric moon stardust rituals

Released by Sulatron Records. Reviewed April 7.

Do I even need to remotely justify having Electric Moon‘s first studio album in six years on this list? Was it not just like a love-letter issued by the cosmos itself? What more explanation could possibly be necessary? Not that the German trio haven’t dropped copious, glorious live outings all the while, but to have Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and Marcus Schnitzler follow-up 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here) with four cuts culminating in the 22-minute sprawl of “(You Will) Live Forever Now” was high on the list of the year’s most satisfying psychedelic journeys. Constantly exploring, their methods always seem geared toward finding the molten essence of space rock itself, and though the songs on Stardust Rituals were a little more crafted than some of their straight-up improv jams, they nonetheless showed there are many avenues one might take to get to the heart of the sun.

7. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

Self-released. Reviewed May 1.

This one is personal, and by that I mean I love this fucking band. Similar to my experience with their 2015 sophomore outing, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), the third record by Boise-based trio of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) was one that I simply could not put down. Even now, seeing the name of the record is all I need to have songs like “The Great Destroyer” and the immersive midsection in “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” stuck in my head, let alone the ultra-brazen, searingly-pissed “Burn” noise assault that finished the album and in the span of 90 seconds turned all the psychedelic warmth and serenity on its face with a visceral anger completely unforeseen and jarring, turning it from a depth-laden execution of adventurous neo-psych and indie into a project of conceptual artistry with all the efficiency of the chemical reaction it sought to portray. If you missed it, your loss.

6. The Atomic Bitchwax, Force Field

the-atomic-bitchwax-force-field

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Dec. 7.

Songs like “Alaskan Thunder Fuck,” “Humble Brag” and “Earth Shaker (Which Doobie U Be?)” assured that the defining character of Force Field, the sixth album from New Jersey’s The Atomic Bitchwax, was pure scorch. That made the 12-cut outing a more than worthy follow-up for 2015’s  Gravitron (review here), which introduced this more speed-rock-minded, aggressive delivery from the tight-as-nails trio, and while they proved they could still lock in a slower groove on the organ-topped finisher “Liv a Little,” head-spinners like the instrumental “Fried, Dyed and Layin’ to the Side” and “Houndstooth” came across like the fruit of the band pushing themselves to the limits of their physical ability in terms of tempo, and their ride along the edge of that line brought thrills at every turn. And make no mistake, there were a lot of turns. Fortunately, bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik, guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella seemingly had a corresponding hook in their pocket for each one of them. This band is a national treasure.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

atavismo inerte

Released by Temple of Torturous. Reviewed Feb. 21.

Warm, fuzzy tones, rhythmic shifts right out of classic progressive rock, melodic intricacy and periodic excursions into glorious psychedelic drift: I’m not sure what wasn’t to like about Inerte, Atavismo‘s second full-length behind 2014’s Desintegración (review here). Comprising five tracks of unmistakable flow and jam-laden fluidity, it was immersive with landmarks along the way to keep the listener from getting too lost, and whether or not one spoke Spanish, the three-piece of Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) made it easy to follow along their purposefully meandering path, offering guidance no less skillful on the 11-minute fuzz-freaker “El Sueño” than the dream-toned linear build of “Belleza Cuatro.” There were very, very few albums I listened to more this year than this one, which is precisely why it is where it is on this list.

4. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universe

Released by Electric Magic Records and Abraxas Records. Reviewed May 4.

Four years between records isn’t at all an unheard of stretch. It’s not the longest on this list by any means. But with Berlin heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment, it really seemed like the band was done, so to have them come back with such force on One with the Universe was, as I know I said at several points throughout the last 12 months, one of the year’s total highlights. Tracked by former bassist Richard Behrens, the group’s fourth album answered the extended-track spread of 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here) with a deeper sense of sonic variety, and while the 15-minute title-cut and opener “Vispassana” still had plenty of room for jamming out and even six-minute centerpiece “Glorious Daze” found room for some flourish of organ and sitar, guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt rightly featured the chemistry they’ve built as a trio live and brought to the songs a renewed sense of vigor, sounding — and hopefully being — truly inspired. Waiting for the Flood capped a period of marked productivity across several years. Fingers crossed One with the Universe begins that cycle anew.

3. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World

Elder-Reflections-of-a-Floating-World

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed May 23.

You just can’t consider Elder‘s Reflections of a Floating World outside the context of the progressive achievement that was their prior outing, 2015’s Lore (review here). Where the trio — based now between Massachusetts and Berlin, Germany — took their first two outings, 2008’s self-titled debut (discussed here) and 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here), to find their sound, which they began to showcase on the 2012 Spires Burn/Release EP (review here), it was Lore that brought to fruition the potential that had always been waiting to be unleashed by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto, and Reflections of a Floating World had the daunting task of being the next further step from that landmark moment. To say the band rose to the occasion is perhaps to undersell the cohesion at work in consuming-but-cohesive pieces like opener “Sanctuary” or “Blind” or “Staving off the Truth,” which brought together clear-headed psychedelia around a wash that seemed to stem as much from rhythm as melody. As they’ve matured stylistically and become a major touring presence, Elder have made themselves perhaps the most pivotal American heavy rock act going, and Reflections of a Floating World brings them to the discovery of yet another apex while at the same time giving zero indication it will be the last one they find.

2. Colour Haze, In Her Garden

colour haze in her garden

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed March 9.

Of course, the bonus of writing about Colour Haze in just about any context is that you get to put Colour Haze on while you’re doing it, and in the case of the 12th LP from these Munich heavy psych forebears, that’s an even more appealing prospect. After stripping down some of the arrangement flourish with 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the 13-track/73-minute 2LP In Her Garden brought a revitalized sonic expansion, but as ever, it wasn’t just the horns or the strings or the blend of keys and acoustics that made In Her Garden the unbridled joy that it was and continues to be — it was the underlying performance from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald that gave the album the stem on which its garden grew. That’s not to say Jan Faszbender‘s work on modular synth, Rhodes, and Hammond or the arrangements of strings, tuba, bass-clarinet and trombone throughout hurt anything, just that as Colour Haze have grown into incorporating these elements into their groundbreaking aesthetic, they haven’t left behind the organic chemistry and necessary live feel that has helped them influence a generation of followers over their more than 20-year career. One came through as much as the other on In Her Garden, and that balance gave the overarching warmth of their self-recorded tonality yet another level on which to engage their audience. I’ll be a sucker for Colour Haze for as long as I live, and I have absolutely no problem admitting to and owning that.

1. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the war

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Jan. 27.

It was clear early on that Nashville four-piece All Them Witches were contending hard for Album of the Year with Sleeping Through the War, their fourth long-player and second for New West following the mellow vibes of 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here). What finally sealed it? The songs. Working with producer Dave Cobb, the each-member-essential lineup of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, key-specialist Allan van Cleave (Rhodes, Mellotron, piano, organ, etc.) and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler solidified their approach in exciting new ways on early cuts like the grunge-crunching “Don’t Bring Me Coffee” and the shuffling “Bruce Lee,” which hit in succession following the fluid lead-in of opener “Bulls,” an introduction of the organic psychedelia and heavy blues that the loose-swinging of “3-5-7″‘s nigh-on-gospel chorus and subsequent, almost maddeningly catchy “Am I Going Up?” would continue to push outward, thereby setting a linear course into a consciousness-capturing side B with “Alabaster” and the jammier “Cowboy Kirk” and “Internet” playing between melodic nuance and mindful, go-with-it drift. The unflinching strength of the material was matched perhaps only by the understatement of its delivery, which was the more staggering considering how easily the arrangements of background vocals on “Am I Going Up?” or  “3-5-7” could have come through as overblown or self-indulgent, and by the time they got down to the light weirdo-bluesy stomp of “Internet” — the key lyric and hook being, “Guess I’ll go live on the internet” — there was no doubting the genuine nature of the realization Sleeping Through the War represented for All Them Witches. Coupling that feeling of achievement with the sheer repeatability of the listening experience itself left no doubt that 2017 belonged to these tracks and the marvelous way the band wove between them, and that whatever other sounds All Them Witches may go on to explore and whatever else they may accomplish as a result, Sleeping Through the War was a truly special moment in their evolution that, as with the best of offerings in any year, will continue to resonate long after the calendar page has turned.

The Next 20

You know, I used to feel like once you got past a top 20, the numbers were arbitrary. Then I felt that way about the top 30. This year, I think I agonized more about what to include in numbers 31-50 than I did between 30 and the album of the year. Put that in your “go figure” file while you chew on these picks:

31. Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
32. The Midnight Ghost Train, Cypress Ave.
33. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
34. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
35. PH, Eternal Hayden
36. Sasquatch, Maneuvers
37. Young Hunter, Dayhiker
38. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
39. Ufomammut, 8
40. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
41. Paradise Lost, Medusa
42. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
43. Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages
44. Primitive Man, Caustic
45. Motorpsycho, The Tower
46. Arbouretum, Song of the Rose
47. Hymn, Perish
48. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle
49. Pallbearer, Heartless
50. Dool, Here Now There Then

There’s so, so much good stuff here. So much. The Cities of Mars debut was a treasure and the only reason it wasn’t on my top debuts list was because I haven’t had the chance to go back in and put it on. The Young Hunter record? Some of their best work yet. Hell, that Arduini / Balich album alone! Then you’ve got huge releases by Pallbearer, Ufomammut, Paradise Lost, Primitive Man, on and on. Like I said at the outset, one more album and my head was gonna explode this year. Way too much to ever hope to keep up with. One thing though I felt like I really wanted to emphasize including was Dool. They’re in the last spot, but make no mistake, in atmosphere and songwriting that album was something really special and loaded with potential. It’s not there because it came in last. It’s there to highlight the point of how much it should be on this list.

What’s that? More records? Okay…

Honorable Mentions

In case you also weren’t completely overwhelmed this year, maybe another batch of records will do the trick. Here’s some presented alphabetically:

Anathema, The Optimist
Blackfinger, When Colors Fade Away
Child, Blueside
Cortez, The Depths Below
Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies
Elbrus, Elbrus
Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Five Horse Johnson, Jake Leg Boogie
Mirror Queen, Verdigris
The Obsessed, Sacred
T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
Steak, No God to Save
Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
Valborg, Endstrand
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead

Plus: Abronia, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Iron Monkey, Band of Spice, Puta Volcano, Galley Beggar, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, REZN, Green Meteor, Demon Head, Lord, Grigax, The Raynbow, Carpet, Norska, Les Lekin, Slow, Ixion, and I’m sure more that I’ll add as the names continue to pop into my head.

I did this back in June as well, but I also want to draw attention to a swath of quality live albums that came out this year. The top pick should be no surprise if you’ve been hanging around the site of late:

Live Albums:
1. SubRosa, Subdued Live at Roadburn
2. Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
3. Slomatics, Futurians Live at Roadburn
4. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
5. Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion
5. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn

Thank You

It’s been a hell of a year, obviously. Musically and otherwise. As always, I cannot possibly come close to thanking you enough for your incredible and ongoing support of The Obelisk, of what this site is, what it’s become over its nearly nine-year run, what it will continue to become going forward from here. It is astounding to me and deeply humbling that you would possibly take time out of your busy day and your busy life to check out what’s going on here, and words fail me continually when it comes to feeling like I can properly convey my appreciation for that. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Tattoo it on my forehead.

Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for understanding how much I need to be doing this, to Slevin for keeping the site running on the technical end, to Behrang Alavi for taking over hosting earlier this year, to my family for their ongoing support, to The Pecan for sleeping late some mornings and giving me time to write, and to everyone who ever shared a link on social media or made a comment on a post or anything like that. To long-time readers and to newcomers alike — thank you so much. This year has seen a fair share of ups and downs, but the support this site gets sustains me in ways I never expected it could, and that would be impossible without you. Please know how crucial that is to me.

Well, that should do it. I know there are probably disagreements about where things landed on the list, what was included, what was left out, etc., as there always are. All comments are of course welcome — only thing I’d ask is you please keep it civil and respectful of the opinions of others. Otherwise, have at it. Please.

And one more time, thank you for reading.

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Review & Full Stream: Nick Oliveri, N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

nick-oliveri-no-hits-at-all-vol-3

[Click play above to stream Nick Oliveri’s N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 in its entirety. CD/LP out Oct. 20 via Heavy Psych Sounds.]

As he informs in screaming fashion on the penultimate “Country as Fuck,” Nick Oliveri is here to drink, fuck, and fight. Would anyone expect less? That song is by a group called Plan B fronted by Oliveri and featuring guitarist Steve Soto, drummer and Joey Castillo, and guitarist Troy van Leeuwen — the latter two former Oliveri bandmates in Queens of the Stone Age — and it’s one of six cuts, each by a different group featuring Oliveri, included on N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3, the third installment of a Heavy Psych Sounds-backed series of “lost,” previously unreleased or otherwise hard to chase down tracks from the former Kyuss bassist.

Of course, Oliveri‘s alias identities include being the frontman of Mondo Generator, his own Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable solo band, his Death Acoustic solo work, performing with Dwarves, a stint in Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino, bassist in BloodclotBl’astSvetlanas, on and on. His reputation for drug-fueled riotousness precedes him — 2011 police standoff, rifle, prison, amphetamines; easy to recall — and sure enough, N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 tears un-P.C. ass through its 17-minute stretch, blasting off punker violence as it goes with Oliveri‘s recognizable throat-searing shouts and unmatched attitude serving as the factors to tie it all together. He may or may not actually be country as fuck, but he certainly makes the above-noted mission statement sound like a genuine expression of intent.

Cohorts and accomplices are a big part of the appeal on N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 as well. Oliveri joins Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins) in her Hand of Doom solo Black Sabbath covers project for a take on “The Mob Rules” that seems to revel in how far from the Dio-fronted original version it is, while also reminding of how propulsive that original actually was. Dwarves and a side-project for Dwarves guitarist He Who Cannot Be Named both show up, the former with second cut “Luv is Fiction,” which finds Oliveri on vocals under his own name while also playing bass under the guise of Rex Everything. The esteemed Josh Freese (Suicidal Tendencies, Ween, A Perfect Circle, Guns ‘n’ Roses, indeed Dwarves, among many others) may or may not be playing drums on “Luv is Fiction,” which together with He Who Cannot Be Named‘s “Medication,” comprise just about the most outwardly accessible inclusions on the record.

When Dwarves is as close as you get to “audience friendly,” you know some shit is going down. And fair enough. So much of Oliveri‘s sonic personality is based around being unhinged, the wild man, etc., it only seems fair that even as “Luv is Fiction” moves into semi-spoken verses, it should still serve as a reminder of the edge and sense of danger that Queens of the Stone Age have arguably been missing for the last 12-plus years, and by the time they come around, “Country as Fuck” and “The Mob Rules” at the end only underscore the point of the kind of torrent Oliveri can bring to a piece of material and still hold it together to the degree he does, which, naturally, varies.

nick oliveri

And now that the lead has been thoroughly buried, N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 features two seeming exclusives of particular note. The first is opener “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw,” a cover of Rose Tattoo‘s 1978 single by the Oliveri-fronted Royale Daemons, a project idea kicked around a few years back that featured Joey Castillo on drums and Scott “Wino” Weinrich (The ObsessedSaint VitusSpirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, and so on) on guitar. The notion of an Oliveri/Wino collaboration was enough to turn heads in that trio’s direction with the sheer announcement of its existence, but apart from a show or two, this recording and one featured on the previous installment of this series earlier this year, so far as I know nothing else has come of it, and as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw” has never been previously released, it’s definitely something special for N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3.

Same could be said of side B leadoff “Kyuss Dies,” by a trio incarnation of Kyuss Lives! without vocalist John Garcia that consists just of Oliveri, drummer Brant Bjork and guitarist Bruno Fevery, on which Oliveri essentially tells the tale in punker fashion of the lawsuit that brought that project to an end and saw the birth of Vista Chino, which of course also led to the departure of Oliveri from the group. Over a raw and fuzzy recording, Oliveri intones “Here come the suits and ties/Kyuss dies,” while brazenly declaring, “So long my friends/I’m gone.” So he would be, but it’s worth noting that “Kyuss Dies” is the only studio recording ever made public under the moniker of Kyuss Lives! — it’s also the longest track here at 3:42 — so is something of a historical footnote in the timeline of that group as well, which would seem to have been shortlived and more or less doomed from the outset.

As with any such interplay of characterization and persona, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to seeing Oliveri as the one-man wrecking crew he’s reputed to be, but along with his screams, his scathing vision of what punk rock should do, he’s also someone who can craft a landmark hook, and even “Kyuss Dies,” which sounds like a studio tossoff jam, is maddeningly catchy, to say nothing of “Luv is Fiction” or “Country as Fuck.” These things he seems to take with him wherever he goes, and if N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 continues to prove anything, it’s that the dude gets around.

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Queens of the Stone Age, Villains: Casting Roles

Posted in Reviews on August 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

queens of the stone age villains

Who are the rockstars of our age? Whither thou the dearly departed Bowies, the Lemmys, the Frank Zappas and the Led Zeppelins of modernity who might otherwise be teaching the next up and coming generation how to not suck. Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme would seem to have made it his mission to step into this role, and one might argue that Villains — the band’s second offering through Matador Records following 2013’s resurgent …Like Clockwork (review here) — is his highest-profile attempt to-date. I don’t know whether the proverbial “kids” are attuned at all to its frequency when it comes to getting the point — at 44, he might simply be part of a generation that’s too old (also too loud?) to have that kind of impact — but it’s something that wouldn’t shake out for another 10 to 15 years anyway, so we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, the seventh QOTSA full-length comprises nine songs and 49 minutes of Homme‘s choice-as-ever songcraft, delivered with a sense of answering the record prior that extends even to the return of artist Boneface for the cover, as well as the stated intention of danceability that (almost) immediately bears out on opener “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” as Homme‘s guitar and vocals take check-out-this-hook stance atop a bounce from the returning lineup of keyboardist/guitarist Dean Fertita, guitarist Troy van Leeuwen, bassist Michael Shuman — all three of whom also contribute vocals — and drummer Jon Theodore in the ultra-pop, ultra-clean production by Mark Ronson, noted for his work with pop megastars like Bruno Mars, Adele, and Amy Winehouse, among others.

If this is the company Homme is looking to keep, it’s entirely possible he’s found the right moment to do so. Without the label-reinforced pay-to-play structure of radio promotion as in decades past, pop culture is sorely lacking in rockers — though it seems to be getting along just fine without, and rockers seem to be doing the same in more underground spheres. The question becomes whether Homme‘s Warhol-esque willful adoption of style as substance as presented throughout Villains is the right message to send that inevitable next generation of would-be actual-guitar heroes, and that, of course, is an entirely different debate.

While there’s something inherently cloying about the process of appealing toward mainstream legitimacy — Homme wants that next number-one chart position, wants the thus-far-elusive Grammy — it’s worth noting that Queens of the Stone Age are doing so on their own terms. The first lines of opener “Feet Don’t Fail Me” come from Homme speaking about being born in the desert, and whether it’s the frantic “Head Like a Haunted House” with its playful call and response of “You okay?” and “I’m fine,” or the handclap-laden shimmy and buzzsaw tone of “The Way You Used to Do,” Villains feels in no small part built from similar impulses that drove the swaggering but still ironic “Smooth Sailing” from …Like Clockwork. A key difference between that record and this one, however, is in the narrative crux and the urgency of expression. The story there was Homme had nearly died in surgery, had just gotten through suing his former Kyuss bandmates and was making a return to Queens of the Stone Age after several years away that included releasing the self-titled debut from supergroup power trio Them Crooked Vultures (review here). The story here is, as the guitarist has said, he’s over all that and just wants to dance.

Not exactly compelling, but fair enough. Add to that the fact that where …Like Clockwork wasn’t shy about bringing in guests like Sir Elton John, Nine Inch Nails figurehead Trent Reznor and even former Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri (also Mondo Generator, Vista Chino, etc.) for guest appearances, Villains is a completely in-house affair for the five-piece, which even with the measure or two of Oliveri-esque screams that someone — presumably Shuman, but don’t quote me — adds to the end of the maddeningly catchy “Domesticated Animals” positions Homme all the more as the defining presence in the band. Whatever else van Leeuwen — who is otherwise the longest-tenured member of the band, having joined 15 years ago around the release of 2002’s ultra-seminal Songs for the DeafShuman, Fertita or Theodore add to the mix, Villains finds the group more about Homme than ever.

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He’s more than capable of carrying the band, but after the slow build into the wistfully poppy “Fortress,” which proves to be a highlight of the album as a whole after the these-are-the-singles opening salvo of “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” “The Way You Used to Do” and “Domesticated Animals,” and the aforementioned thrusting centerpiece “Head Like a Haunted House,” Villains — almost following the structure of the preceding album in a way that 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze was in direct conversation with Songs for the Deaf before it — moves deeper into its second half, marked by the longer songs “Un-Reborn Again,” “The Evil Has Landed” and the finale “Villains of Circumstance,” each of which tops six minutes. Again, …Like Clockwork functioned similarly, with pieces like “Kalopsia,” “Fairweather Friends” and “I Appear Missing” (which weren’t all necessarily longer, but were broader nonetheless) before a subdued closing title-track. “Un-Reborn Again” stomps and struts behind a keyboard line and buzzing guitar as Homme taps his inner Elvis even as he references Georgia Satellites in the lyrics and is the longest cut on Villains at 6:41, but stays even in its bounce and offers little in terms of build or emotional resonance.

A more melancholy vibe that persists in the shorter “Hideaway” (4:21), again marked by the heavy use of Fertita‘s keyboards, would seem to be filling this role, but the earlier “Fortress” did so in more memorable fashion and with greater nuance of melody and arrangement. It functions to bring Villains back to ground after “Un-Reborn Again,” but feels as much about setting up the turn into “The Evil Has Landed,” which feels intended as the rocking finish before the emotive epilogue “Villains of Circumstance” plays to ’80s pop and New Wave the way the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things was so chock full of nostalgia for a time that only debatably earned it. Indeed, “The Evil Has Landed” has its moment of drive toward the end, but works in three stages to get there, swaying through bopping early verse/chorus trades and a somewhat meandering solo section before shifting back into the hook and bridging to a faster push that, while marked by Homme crooning “Here we go” after a punctuating drum stop, still feels restrained in its tonal impact compared to some of the group’s time-to-go-all-out moments in the past, whether that’s “A Song for the Deaf” or even “Suture up Your Future” from 2007’s Era Vulgaris.

Longtime listeners of the band hoping Homme might “go back” to his roots and the modus of LPs like Queens of the Stone Age‘s 1998 self-titled debut, 2000’s Rated R or Songs for the Deaf that’s proven to have so wide an influence on desert rock around the world are dreaming. That time, that lineup, and those motives are long gone, and there’s very little in Villains that won’t feel toothless to anyone who approaches it looking for them, up to and including the ending of “The Evil Has Landed” and “Villains of Circumstance,” the relatively scorching guitar of “Domesticated Animals” or the rhythmic focus of “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and “The Way You Used to Do.”

What Homme and company present instead is a successful realization of their stated mission — to dance — and a collection of ultra-crafted songs that reimagine pop as something that just might not shy away from rocking out every now and again. I have no idea if it will get them a Grammy, or top whatever chart it might be aiming for, or cast Homme as a generation-defining rockstar of his age — one could easily argue this already happened a decade and a half ago — but on a basic level of craft, Queens of the Stone Age continue to be a singular presence in rock’s broadest sphere, and Villains offers plenty to remind its audience of how they got there.

Queens of the Stone Age, “The Evil Has Landed”

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Queens of the Stone Age Post Video for “The Way You Used to Do”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

queens-of-the-stone-age-Andreas-Neumann

As a people, a collective and a universe constantly in flux, we’re inching closer to the Aug. 25 official release date of Queens of the Stone Age‘s new album, Villains, on Matador Records. The record, which was announced back in June, has carried a sense of production value as a forward-facing theme since the outset — even the announcement was a well-directed and clever video — and with the emphasis on the recording by Mark Ronson (Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, etc.) plays into that as well. So to it would seem does the new clip for the uptempo leadoff single “The Way You Used to Do.” Nothing quite like being on theme.

I say “it would seem” as regards the new video though because all I’ve seen of the thing is the teaser clip below. Queens of the Stone Age released it exclusively through Apple Music, and while I’m sure it’ll make its way to YouTube in short order if it hasn’t by the time this post is live, the notion of paying to watch a music video in 2017 strikes me as more than its fair share of ridiculous. Most bands can barely give away a video, and while I’ve already reconciled myself to writing about it and subsequently purchasing Villains when it comes out — I used to be cool enough to get promos of their stuff to review; this one’s got me chasing down leaks like I’m the dag-nab Attorney General — you’ll pardon me if I try and hold onto some measure of propriety, at least, you know, until I don’t.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all heard the record by now and have your own opinions on it. I’ll have a review up I think next week for it if all pans out the way I’m hoping it does, and then the universe will proceed on its merry way, catchy songs and whatnot.

Here’s the teaser for the video and more info from Matador‘s website:

Queens of the Stone Age, “The Way You Used to Do” teaser

“Dancing and headbanging are truly individualistic expressions of losing oneself fully in appreciation of music—who better to combine these things into a singular vision than someone who’s directed Madonna and Lady Gaga videos–and also happens to have been a member of Bathory?”—Joshua Homme

“The Way You Used To Do,” the recently released first single from Queens Of The Stone Age’s ominously approaching seventh album ‘Villains’, has been realized as a fever dream Satanic dance ritual extravaganza—featuring QOTSA founder and frontman Joshua Homme lighter on his feet and darker in his soul than ever before.

Conceived by Homme, directed by Jonas Akerlund and produced by Serial Pictures, “The Way You Used To Do,” somehow fit its multiple sets, wardrobe changes and intricate dance routines into one day of shooting August 8th in Los Angeles. Considering potential reactions to the sinister shuffle of “The Way We Used To Do” being translated into a panoramic soul-selling dance trip, Homme says “It’s our way of paying tribute to Cab Calloway and the film Hellzapoppin’. I fully realize that may be a little more than some are open to, and that’s perfectly fine with me. There’s the door. If some of the more close-minded are gently pruned, that just leaves more room on the dance floor for the open-minded ones to get loose. That’s been the spirit of Queens Of The Stone Age and the space we’ve worked to create from day one.”

‘Villains’ is co-produced by Mark Ronson and will be released worldwide on August 25th.

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Queens of the Stone Age Announce New Album Villains

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

queens of the stone age

Yesterday, Queens of the Stone Age started the process of teasing the release of their next album by putting up a minute-long YouTube clip in which a manipulated version of frontman Josh Homme‘s voice said the word ‘gold’ over and over again. Today, they follow by announcing the title of their seventh full-length will be Villains and that to record it, the five-piece has teamed with producer Mark Ronson, whose credits include the pop-superstar likes of Paul McCartneyAmy Winehouse Adele, and many, many others who sell a lot, a lot, a lot of records to a lot, a lot, a lot of people. In the video below, among the other names, one will find Duran Duran. So there’s that.

Playing to mass-market pop is nothing new for Queens of the Stone Age, of course. 11 years after breaking through to mainstream consciousness with what’s now a heavy rock landmark in 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, the band issued their most recent outing, 2013’s …Like Clockwork (review here) — they also had two records in between in 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze and 2007’s Era Vulgaris — and songs like “If I Had a Tail” and “Smooth Sailing” still don’t need much more than the recitation of the title to get stuck in the head of anyone who heard them. In announcing Villains in the skit below directed by Liam Lynch (Tenacious D) they give a snippet preview of a track called “Feet Don’t Fail Me” that would seem to work toward a similar danceability as the latter. Again, fair territory for them at this point.

More as I hear/see it. For now, here’s the clip and the band’s upcoming tour dates:

Queens of the Stone Age, Villains announcement

Directed by: Liam Lynch

Queens of the Stone Age on tour:
06/22-25 – Montebello, QC Amnesia Rockfest
07/13 – Auckland, NZ Logan Campbell
07/16 – Darwin, AU Convention Center
07/19 – Sydney, AU Horden Pavilion
07/20 – Melbourne, AU Festival Hall
07/22 – Byron Bay, AU Splendour in the Grass
07/28-30 – Naeba, JP Fuji Rock Festival
08/11-13 – San Francisco, CA Outside Lands Festival
09/15-17 – Chicago, IL Riot Fest

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