Miss Lava Premiere “The Great Divide” Video From Doom Machine LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on December 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

miss lava the great divide

Portuguese heavy rockers Miss Lava release their new album, Doom Machine, Jan. 15 on Small Stone and Kozmik Artifactz. The band’s fourth long-player and second through Small Stone behind 2016’s Sonic Debris (review here), it is an explosion of well-crafted, professional-sounding material that feels built for European heavy-fest stages. Your Desertfests, certainly SonicBlast, they’re already booked for a festival in Spain this March (which seems ambitious), and so on. It was, appropriately enough, recorded live, with Miguel “Veg” Marques at the helm of Generator Music Studios in Sintra. The energy with which the songs are delivered is only part of the album’s personality though, because the CD version comes with a whopping 15 tracks running a total of 56 minutes, as the returning four-piece of vocalist Johnny Lee, guitarist K. Raffah, bassist Ricardo Ferreira and drummer J. Garcia tear into one hook after the other, careening with desert-inspired purpose through “Fourth Dimension” and “In the Mire” at the outset like an all-grown-up Kyuss with the rest of the album that follows working in different stages set off by interludes, groups of one or two songs complemented by short pieces of varied atmosphere that lend breadth to the proceedings as a whole.

Most of those spacers are quick instrumentals. Guitar, bass, drums. “Magma,” the first of them, and “Karma” follow that pattern, while “Alpha” adopts a more mellow spirit and the last, “Terra” captures wave sounds and guitar noise ahead of the closing title-track, which is also the longest song on the outing at 6:58. The interludes bolster Doom Machine‘s flow and make it all the more immersive despite being largely based around straightforward craft of high grade verses and choruses, though certainly longer stretchesmiss lava doom machine like “Brotherhood of Eternal Love” (5;46), the Alice in Chains-style harmonized “The Fall” (6:31) and “Doom Machine” itself want nothing for atmosphere. “The Fall” is a highlight in that regard, but it contends with single-worthy cuts like the maddeningly catchy “Sleepy Warm” and the slower, more spacious “The Great Divide” nearby for that title, with the latter as the assumed end of the vinyl’s side A and, indeed, the split between the first half of the album and the second — not counting the bonus tracks. That’s not to mention a cut like “The Oracle,” later on, which singlehandedly shows how Miss Lava take cues from classic desert rock and turn them into something of their own all across Doom Machine as a whole. Maybe it’s safer not to talk about highlights.

Amid the many hooks, interludes and spot-on moves made throughout Doom Machine is the narrative of K. Raffah having lost a child after only a month and a half from birth. That brutal context underpins even the most uptempo of Miss Lava‘s songs here, and adds weight to already impactful pieces like “The Fall” and “In the Mire” earlier on, the melodies and momentum betraying little of what’s actually going on but remaining expressive nonetheless. One doesn’t want to call it a disconnect, but Doom Machine hardly sounds dragged down by grief or anything else as Miss Lava courses through. Even the bonus tracks, “God Feeds the Swine,” ‘Feel Surrea” and “Red Atlantis,” boast quality hooks — the last one of them especially so — so there is a balance of elements and themes at play throughout, and the band aren’t necessarily beholden to one or the other of them, as impossible as that might seem.

To wit, the video premiering below for “The Great Divide” takes a post-apocalyptic environmentalist stance, looking out at the world and seeing it being used and torn down by humanity as a whole. The clip was directly by José Dinis, who offers some comment on it below, along with that of Johnny Lee.

As always, I hope you enjoy:

Miss Lava, “The Great Divide” official video premiere

According to singer Johnny Lee, “‘The Great Divide’ is a euphemism for death, an apocalyptic vision for mankind. We keep destroying our planet and forgetting that when this ends, it ends for everyone.”

Director José Dinis reflects that this is “A concept story about an apocalyptic world, where an unhopeful man just tries to survive. As in real life, there is always a way out, a solution, a chance to live a more colourful life, no matter what.”

“The Great Divide” was filmed at Mina de São Domingos, a deserted open-pit mine in Alentejo, Portugal. The site is one of the volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposits in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, which extends from the southern Portugal into Spain. It was the first place in Portugal to have electric lighting.

Miss Lava on Thee Facebooks

Miss Lava on Bandcamp

Sonic Debris at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

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Kozmik Artifactz website

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Miss Lava Set Jan. 15 Release for Doom Machine; “Fourth Dimension” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

miss lava

Issuing through Kozmik Artifactz and Small Stone, the impending Doom Machine full-length from Miss Lava will be the band’s first since 2016’s Sonic Debris (review here). The title, Doom Machine, doesn’t inspire much in considerations of individuality — it’s kind of a generic name for a record, band, song, riff, amp, heavy thing, etc. — but the album actually deals with some hard-hitting emotional content on the part of the group, and as one expects from Miss Lava well more than a decade into their tenure, they know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to songwriting and capturing a stage-ready energy in the studio.

Will there be stages for Miss Lava to support the record once it’s out? Hell if I know. Seems unlikely in January, but you know, maybe at some point, ever, they’ll get to tour again.

To preface Doom Machine‘s arrival, Miss Lava have a video up now for the opening track “Fourth Dimension,” and you can see that at the bottom of this post, following the PR wire info and this kickass cover art right here:

miss lava doom machine

MISS LAVA: Lisbon Heavy Rock Unit To Release Doom Machine This January Via Small Stone / Kozmik Artifactz; “Fourth Dimension” Video Now Playing + Preorders Available

Lisbon’s premier heavy rockers MISS LAVA will release their long-awaited new full-length, Doom Machine, this January via Small stone.

The perfect soundtrack for the post-lockdown world, the band’s fourth album and follow-up to 2017’s Dominant Rush EP stands as their densest output to date doused in kaleidoscopic riff explorations and hypnotic interludes; a multi-textured sonic journey that’s at once deep, heavy, mesmerizing, and cathartic. Captured live at Generator Music Studios in Sintra, Portugal by Miguel “Veg” Marques, the record carries with it the warmth and soul of a band full of fresh vigor and perhaps the demons of these tumultuous times.

The record is loosely focused on the tragic death of guitarist K. Raffah’s baby son and the other members’ children born during the creative process. “Doom Machine is a very emotional experience for us…,” Raffah shares. “[My son] was only here for a month and a half, but his light was very bright. We feel his presence every time.” Thematically vocalist Johnny Lee adds, “This album reflects on how each one of us can breed and unleash our own self-destructive force, assembled to be part of a giant ‘Doom Machine.'”

In advance of the record’s release, today the band is pleased to unveil a video for first single, “Fourth Dimension,” noting, “this is a riff raff explosion that urges people to get out of the cave allegory they live in.”

Directed by José Dinis, view MISS LAVA’s “Fourth Dimension.”

Doom Machine will be released on CD and digitally via Small Stone with Kozmik Artifactz handling a limited vinyl edition. Find preorders at THIS LOCATION.

Doom Machine Track Listing:
1. Fourth Dimension
2. In The Mire
3. Magma
4. Brotherhood Of Eternal Love
5. Sleepy Warm
6. The Great Divide
7. Karma
8. The Fall
9. Alpha
10. The Oracle
11. Terra
12. Doom Machine
13. God Feeds The Swine *
14. Feel Surreal *
15. Red Atlantis *
** Bonus tracks on CD and digital only

Doom Machine is the successor to MISS LAVA’s Dominant Rush EP (2017), Sonic Debris (2016), Red Supergiant (2013), and Blues For The Dangerous Miles (2009), as well as a limited edition self-titled blood red vinyl EP (2008).

https://www.facebook.com/MissLavaOfficial/
http://www.instagram.com/miss.lava/
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Miss Lava, “Fourth Dimension” official video

Miss Lava, Doom Machine (2021)

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The Glasspack Release Candy Apples & Razor Blades EP; Moon Patrol LP Due in 2021

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The thing about Misfits covers is picking one. As in, how the hell could you possibly? Granted, if you’re not a Misfits fan, well, fine, you probably don’t care — and you’re probably not going to cover them anytime soon so it’s moot anyway. But if you like the Misfits at all, how on earth could you ever narrow it down to just one song to play? What, you’re gonna do “Halloween” and not “We are 138?” You’re gonna leave out “Hybrid Moments?” Of course not.

Louisville’s The Glasspack have the right idea. Grab a bunch of Misfits songs and record ’em all, then put them up for free so Danzig doesn’t sue your ass. Thus, Candy Apples & Razor Blades was issued in time for Halloween this year and is serving as something of a precursor for Moon Patrol, the awaited next LP from The Glasspack that will be their first album since two-thousand-frickin’-seven. Man I’m old.

Good fun:

the glasspack candy apples and razor blades

THE GLASSPACK: Louisville Psychedelic Punk Unit Releases Free Misfits/Samhain Covers EP; New Full-Length Set For 2021 Unveiling Via Small Stone

Louisville, Kentucky-based psychedelic punk unit, THE GLASSPACK, has unleashed their first recorded material in over a decade in the form of their Candy Apples And Razor Blades EP. Featuring various Misfits and Samhain covers, the eight-track offering is available for free via Bandcamp and serves as a teaser to the band’s forthcoming new full-length, Moon Patrol, set for release in 2021 via Small Stone Records.

Comments vocalist “Dirty” Dave Johnson, “I asked the guys if we could record something special this year to give away for free. So, we quickly recorded some punk rock and metal favorites with a dash of GLASSPACK flavor at DeadBird Recording Studios in Louisville. As a punk rock kid in Louisville, I fell in love with these songs immediately and still carry them with me as an adult. I never outgrew them, or maybe I just didn’t grow up. It doesn’t matter. I will likely sing some of them ’til I am ashes. This is the first actual studio recording THE GLASSPACK has released for many years. It is also the first GLASSPACK record of which I do not play guitar. I only did the vocals.

“I am also in the process of finishing up the lyrics and vocals for our upcoming Moon Patrol album,” he continues, “which is a full-length record of all original GLASSPACK material. The music is finished. Once I finish the lyrics and vocals, we will go into the studio and knock it out. COVID-19 has derailed some of our plans but this album will still be released at some point next year.”

Stream Candy Apples And Razor Blades at THIS LOCATION.

Candy Apples And Razor Blades Track Listing:
1. 20 Eyes
2. Hybrid Moments
3. Devilock
4. In The Doorway
5. We Are 138
6. Halloween
7. Mother Of Mercy
8. The Howl

THE GLASSPACK:
“Dirty” Dave Johnson – vocals, guitars
Brett “Cap’n” Holsclaw – drums
Nicholas Hall – guitars, keys
Billy Lease – bass
Dave Chale – drums

https://www.facebook.com/theGlasspack/
https://theglasspack.bandcamp.com/
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.instagram.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

The Glasspack, Candy Apples and Razor Blades EP (2020)

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The Electric Mud Premiere “A Greater Evil” Lyric Video from Burn the Ships LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the electric mud

Floridian heavy rock four-piece The Electric Mud will issue their second album, Burn the Ships, on Sept. 25 via the multinational consortium of Small Stone Records and Kozmik Artifactz. The unit, who of course take their moniker from Muddy Waters‘ 1968 “rock” album, Electric Mud (discussed here), offered their debut, Bull Gator, in 2018 and found themselves dug into a bayou of heavy blues rock, a classic-style inflection in their tone and presentation that one imagine perked up the ears of Small Stone perhaps like a next-generation Five Horse Johnson, and after posting a video for “First Murder on Mars” with the announcement of the release, they have a new lyric video for “A Greater Evil” premiering now.

Usually when it comes to Small Stone stuff, the opening track is posted first, then another one or two down the line ahead of the release. Why all the videos for The Electric Mud? Well, when the band has already put the album out,the electric mud burn the ships you kind of have to take a different approach. It was last August that the The Electric Mud had Burn the Ships set to go, but frankly, when you hook up with two ultra-established, brand-name heavy imprints to give your record a proper release across two continents and multiple physical formats, it seems like maybe that’s worth pulling said record down from your Bandcamp — for a little while, at least. Cheers to The Electric Mud on that one, by the way.

As for the magic formula that got them there, look no further than the not-so-mysterious alchemy that is songwriting, performance and production. The recording is modern but organic, the pace is uptempo but not harried, and though the lyrics of “A Greater Evil” take a social stance — from 2019! ah, simpler times! — they seem to purposefully do so through storytelling rather than soapbox-style opining. Comprised of guitarists Constantine Grim and Peter Kolter (the latter also vocals), bassist Tommy Scott and drummer Pierson Whicker, the band tap into a heavy rock vibe that feels natural and maybe even straightforward, but is still remarkably difficult to pull off without falling flat. If the endorsements behind them — i.e., the label logos on Burn the Ships — don’t speak of their not-fallen-flat three-dimensional status, then surely “A Greater Evil” itself will.

Thus, have at it, and enjoy:

The Electric Mud, “A Greater Evil” lyric video premiere

The Electric Mud on “A Greater Evil”:

‘A Greater Evil’ represents a bit of a progression in our sound. Between the four of us we listen to just about everything, and you can really hear some of those unexpected influences coming out the more we write together.

Crawling from the humid, mangrove-choked banks of the Caloosahatche River, THE ELECTRIC MUD drifted from late night jam sessions, backyard keggers, and a revolving cast of members until one night, in the taproom of a closed up brewery, Peter Kolter, Pierson Whicker, Tommy Scott, and Constantine Grim found themselves in an old fashioned Morricone-style standoff. THE ELECTRIC MUD released its debut album, Bull Gator, in 2018, and hit the road.

With hard work came opportunity that found the band opening not just for Southern rock legends such as Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, The Devon Allman Band, Brother Hawk, and others but also winning a tri-state battle of the bands competition that drew the eye of Matt Washburn owner/operator of Ledbelly Sound Studio (Mastodon, Elder, Royal Thunder) in north Georgia. Washburn and the band hit it off immediately, and the band decamped to The Peach State in 2019 to write and record its follow up album, falling in along the way with the legendary Small Stone Records.

Following an independent unveiling by the band, Burn The Ships will see official release on CD and digital formats via Small Stone as well as limited edition vinyl via Kozmik Artifactz. For preorders, visit the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION.

THE ELECTRIC MUD:
Constantine Grim – guitar
Pierson Whicker – drums, percussion
Peter Kolter – vocals, guitar
Tommy Scott – bass

The Electric Mud, “First Murder on Mars” official video

The Electric Mud website

The Electric Mud on Thee Facebooks

The Electric Mud on Instagram

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

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The Electric Mud to Release Burn the Ships Sept. 25 on Small Stone/Kozmik Artifactz

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the electric mud

This one was released independently by the band last year, but has since been picked up by Small Stone and Kozmik Artifactz. To the best of my admittedly faulty recollection, that’s the first time Small Stone has picked up a release from this generation of Bandcamp records and handled the physical pressing in this manner. Of course it’s done reissues before but this would seem to be more in line with the “first official” rather than a reissue coinciding with another, corresponding new release.

Does that distinction matter? Maybe, if Small Stone makes a habit of it or if you’re the sort to be particularly interested in the evolution of indie label business models. Either way, The Electric Mud’s Burn the Ships has a Sept. 25 release date and there’s a new video out to mark the occasion.

You’ll find that and PR wire info below:

the electric mud burn the ships

THE ELECTRIC MUD: Florida Stoner Rock Unit To Release Burn The Ships Full-Length Via Small Stone September 25th; New Video Now Playing + Preorders Available

Florida-based stoner/retro rock unit THE ELECTRIC MUD will release their Burn The Ships full-length September 25th via Small Stone Records.

Crawling from the humid, mangrove-choked banks of the Caloosahatche River, THE ELECTRIC MUD drifted from late night jam sessions, backyard keggers, and a revolving cast of members until one night, in the taproom of a closed up brewery, Peter Kolter, Pierson Whicker, Tommy Scott, and Constantine Grim found themselves in an old fashioned Morricone-style standoff. Each had reputations around their Florida town as serious musicians and hard workers, and after throwing lightning bolts around the room for a few hours it became clear that they had found not just a band, but a sound. Alongside their love for The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd and their shared Florida roots, came also a deep appreciation for the proto metal of Black Sabbath and the prog metal of Mastodon, and the band aimed to slow cook it and serve it to the masses. After countless hours of grueling rehearsals and gigging in the dives and biker bars of their hometown, THE ELECTRIC MUD released its debut album, Bull Gator, in 2018, and hit the road.

With hard work came opportunity that found the band opening not just for Southern rock legends such as Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, The Devon Allman Band, Brother Hawk, and others but also winning a tri-state battle of the bands competition that drew the eye of Matt Washburn owner/operator of Ledbelly Sound Studio (Mastodon, Elder, Royal Thunder) in north Georgia. Washburn and the band hit it off immediately, and the band decamped to The Peach State in 2019 to write and record its follow up album, falling in along the way with the legendary Small Stone Records. THE ELECTRIC MUD calls upon a punishing rhythm section and dizzying twin guitars alongside gritty, soulful vocals to remind audiences that rock and roll is a timeless, cosmic giant that never truly dies.

In advance of the record’s release, the band is pleased to debut a video for opening track, “The First Murder On Mars” shot at Sonic Studios in Fort Myers, Florida by Matt Anastasi.

Following an independent unveiling by the band, Burn The Ships will see official release on CD and digital formats via Small Stone as well as limited edition vinyl via Kozmik Artifactz. For preorders, visit the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION. Fans of The Sword, Radio Moscow, Clutch, Captain Beyond, The Allman Brothers, and the like, pay heed.

Burn The Ships Track Listing:
1. The First Murder On Mars
2. Stone Hands
3. Reptile
4. A Greater Evil
5. Call The Judge
6. Priestess
7. Good Monster
8. Led Belly
9. Terrestrial Birds

THE ELECTRIC MUD:
Constantine Grim – guitar
Pierson Whicker – drums, percussion
Peter Kolter – vocals, guitar
Tommy Scott – bass

http://www.theelectricmud.com
http://www.facebook.com/TheElectricMud
http://www.instagram.com/theelectricmud
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

The Electric Mud, “First Murder on Mars” official video

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Review & Track Premiere: Black Elephant, Seven Swords

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Black Elephant Seven Swords

[Click play above to stream ‘Yayoi Kusama’ from Black Elephant’s Seven Swords. Album is out Aug. 21 on Small Stone Records and Kozmik Artifactz.]

The priority is set quickly on Black Elephant‘s Seven Swords, and it’s the vibe. With zero pretense about their intention, the Savona, Italy, four-piece unfurl their fourth long-player and second for Small Stone with the patient, gradual build-up of opening cut “Berta’s Flame,” clearly in no rush to get anywhere, quiet but definitely in motion, and subtly establishing both the tonal weight and the spacious atmospheres in which the rest of what follows will inhabit. There’s a theme to Seven Swords, which indeed boasts seven tracks over a wholly manageable 33 minutes — something about samurai; they could well be following the plot of the 2005 movie of the same name starring Donnie Yen for all I know — but the album as a whole is less about a narrative arc than an instrumental one. Led by the warm-toned fuzz of guitarists Alessio Caravelli and Massimiliano Giacosa, with Marcello Destefanis on bass and Simone Brunzu drumming, Black Elephant are not shy about playing to genre.

But if they’re preaching to the converted, they’re doing so because they themselves are the converted and they’re doing so with character and a sense of dynamic that, like the breadth of the mix as a whole, is established early. Hypnosis would seem to be the name of the game as “Berta’s Flame” rolls through its instrumental 6:48, but it’s not entirely ambient, and in its louder sections, it gives a glimpse of some of Seven Swords‘ more rocking moments to come, whether that’s the straightforward fuzzblast of “Yayoi Kusama” or the nothing-if-not-self-aware “Red Sun and Blues Sun” later on. Still, the wash of guitar that takes hold in “The Last March of Yokozuna,” fleshed out with effects and far-back drumming, makes clear Black Elephant‘s intention to showcase tone as a major factor in the album’s overarching personality. Fortunately, their tones, and the varied uses to which they’re put, live up to that task.

As noted, Seven Swords is Black Elephant‘s second full-length through Small Stone, and it follows 2018’s Cosmic Blues (review here) not without some sense of departure but a consistency of overarching purpose. That is, it’s mostly the theme that’s changed, but there is growth demonstrated over the course of the record as well. On the whole, Seven Swords feels more exploratory than its predecessor. It’s jammier, has a broader reach, and when it coheres around a verse/chorus riff, as on “Yayoi Kusama” — which in addition to being the third track is the first to feature vocals — the effect is striking. After “Berta’s Flame” and “The Last March of Yokozuna,” that first verse is almost a surprise the first time through the record, and that works much to Black Elephant‘s benefit, as their ability to adjust the balance of their approach continues to serve them throughout the rest of what follows. From such classic riff-rockery, they move into the centerpiece “Mihara,” which closes out the vinyl edition’s side A and boasts a reverb-soaked forward guitar lick at the outset that gracefully rolls into a steady groove of the sort in which “Berta’s Flame” traffics before it unveils its largesse.

BLACK ELEPHANT

A sense of threat of the same thing happening looms somewhat over “Mihara,” but it’s hardly a negative, and before they get there, a whispered verse and a stretch of dreamy lead guitar cap the first two minutes of the track. When the fuzz hits, it lands heavy, but the lead guitar continues to float overhead, lending atmospherics to the underlying weight, and reminding of breadth as a factor in what Black Elephant are doing throughout the songs, which flow together with deceptive ease, loud parts moving into quiet, jams solidifying, liquefying; backs and forths that sound easier than they are because they’re executed so smoothly. Drums end “Mihara” on tom roundabouts and finish cold, but the sense of side A as a united work remains prevalent, and the band’s firmness of purpose in that regard would seem to be emblematic of their experience over the decade they’ve spent together.

Side B is the shorter of the two halves by about three minutes, but there’s still plenty of work to be done, as “Red Sun and Blues Sun” indicates. It’s the shortest inclusion at just 2:41 — the longest is closer “Govinda” at 8:48 — but the title’s nod to Kyuss isn’t happenstance, but rather further evidence of the band’s self-awareness since, indeed, it’s a Kyuss-style riff that follows the guitar count-in at the beginning of the track. With tambourine adding to the rhythm and the two guitars intertwining, though, Black Elephant make their mark on the brief instrumental, branching out in the midsection before resuming the push and finishing together in time to reference “Faeries Wear Boots” at the start of “Seppuku.” That dogwhistle, bound to perk up the ears of much of the band’s listenership, is likewise put to more individualized use, as the basis for a bluesy riff accompanied by distorted vocals early but soon giving way to mid-paced fuzzy roll that builds through one of Seven Swords‘ stronger hooks.

It serves as something of a landmark for side B, pulling back from the desert idolatry of “Red Sun and Blues Sun” and preceding the immediate psychedelic impression made by the opening guitar on “Govinda.” The finale is a stretch and meant to be one, but it does not pick sides, rather summarizing the course the rest of the album has followed, almost condensing its shifts into its own run between more serene and more driven progressions. It is ultimately the jammy side that wins out over the bulk of the song — almost inevitably — though as Black Elephant hit into the final moments of “Govinda,” they embrace a last fuzzy measure on the way to a return of the open-feeling guitar that launched. That’s a pointed conclusion just the same, highlighting the consciousness at work behind Black Elephant‘s craft and the tricky nature of a record that’s so likely to put its audience in a trance without losing itself in the process. Whatever theme they’re working under, that would seem to be Black Elephant‘s greatest strength, and it makes the manner in which their work unfolds all the more engrossing.

Black Elephant on Thee Facebooks

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Black Elephant Set Aug. 21 Release for Seven Swords; Track Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Black Elephant

I’m pretty sure I wrote the bio below for Black Elephant‘s upcoming album, Seven Swords. Or if not, I at least gave it a good once-over from what they had before. Either way, I’ve had the chance to sit with the release for a while now, and while there are no-doubter familiar aspects to it in the warm fuzzy tones and charged riffs, there is a subtlety to the blend between patient instrumentalism and all-go forward thrust that is more outwardly dynamic than the band might first let on. That is to say, you should definitely go ahead and stream opening track “Berta’s Flame” at the bottom of this post. It’s not like you’ll regret doing so. But keep in mind as you do that the song isn’t necessarily telling you the whole story of the record.

Also, that story seems to have something to do with sumo wrestling. I’m still not quite sure what. But hey, riffs.

The PR wire has words:

Black Elephant Seven Swords

BLACK ELEPHANT: Psychedelic Fuzz Rock Alchemists To Release Seven Swords August 21st Via Small Stone; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

The planets have aligned, and space itself has opened up to grace us with the heavy roll of BLACK ELEPHANT’s Seven Swords, set for release this August via Small Stone Records.

The Italian fuzzmongers mark ten years of cooperative corporeal existence in 2020 and last checked in from their native Savona in Summer 2018 with the aptly titled Cosmic Blues. Two years and an entire lifetime later, they’re back with another collection of classic-minded heavy groovers, picking the best the ’70s, ’90s, and ’10s had to offer in riffery and melding spacey blowouts with desert-hued hooks.

Seven Swords is the second LP BLACK ELEPHANT has issued in league with Detroit-based imprint Small Stone Records, and whether it’s the scorching leads of “Yayoi Kusama” or the conscious wink-and-nod of “Red Sun And Blues Sun” a short time later — just ahead of the bluesy “Seppuku” and the near-nine-minute stretch of closer “Govinda” — the four-piece bring their finest work to-date in an efficient seven-track, thorty-three-minute stretch, building not only on what they accomplished on Cosmic Blues, but also what their prior two full-lengths — 2014’s Bifolchi Inside and 2012’s Spaghetti Cowboys — were building toward. This is a band coming into their own, wasting neither their time nor yours in the process.

Seven Swords was recorded and mixed by Giulio Farinelli at Green Fog Studio in Genoa, mastered by Farinelli at Everybody On The Shore Studio in Milan, Italy, and mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Fuzz pedals preach on, the sky cracks, and the riffs themselves seem to lock bellies in sumo battles, so what the hell? The world’s ending anyway. You might as well have some fun with it. BLACK ELEPHANT’s Seven Swords will be released on August 21st on CD and digitally via Small Stone as well as limited edition vinyl via Kozmik Artifactz.

For preorders and to sample opening track, “Berta’s Flame,” visit the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION.

Seven Swords Track Listing:
1. Berta’s Flame
2. The Last March Of Yokozuna
3. Yayoi Kusama
4. Mihara
5. Red Sun And Blues Sun
6. Seppuku
7. Govinda

BLACK ELEPHANT:
Alessio Caravelli – guitar, vocals
Massimiliano Giacosa – guitar
Marcello Destefanis – bass
Simone Brunzu – drums

http://www.facebook.com/blackelephantitaly
http://www.instagram.com/blackelephantband
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

Black Elephant, Seven Swords (2020)

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Album Review: Tia Carrera, Tried and True

Posted in Reviews on June 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

tia carrera tried and true

The prospect of a new Tia Carrera album inherently brings familiar echoes and the promise of something different. On the most basic level, the latest LP’s title, Tried and True, could easily apply to the band’s methodology itself. It is the second record the Austin, Texas-based three-piece have issued since being joined on bass by Curt Christenson, formerly of Dixie Witch, and the fourth overall they’ve done for Small Stone Records. Comprised of five tracks laid out neatly across two LP sides, it is a relatively compact 37-minutes. That’s more or less of a kind with 2019’s Visitors / Early Purple (review here), the two extended tracks of which showed up through Small Stone last Fall as the band’s first full-length release since 2011’s Cosmic Priestess (review here). Why the delay for a band whose guitarist engineers their own recordings and who specialize in jamming out improvised heavy psychedelia? Shouldn’t they be putting out four records per year?

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that Tia Carrera are perfectionists, and that while they have a vast archive of recorded material, what they consider worth releasing to public ears is in far shorter supply. So be it. The shuffle and swing that takes hold in opener “Layback” and the all-go Hendrixian scorch of the leads in the subsequent “Taos” tell the story, and whatever it may be that holds Tia Carrera back from amassing a huge catalog of LPs, what they do choose to issue certainly has no trouble meeting a high standard. With Erik Conn on drums anchoring the jams as Jason Morales — whose studio is the BBQ Shack, in Austin; Chris Goosman mastered at Baseline Audio Labs in Michigan — tears into one solo after the next and Christenson locks in fluid lines in the low end, each piece is able to hone a spirit of its own despite sharing a stated commonality of approach. It is tried, and it is true. What it isn’t — as Visitors / Early Purple and Tried and True both reaffirm — is broken.

It seems fair to think of the two releases as complements to each other, both because they appear in such quick succession relative to what the band has done before — Cosmic Priestess was preceded by 2009’s The Quintessential (review here) — and because the CD version of Tried and True includes the prior outing’s two extended tracks as bonus cuts. That brings the running time of the CD version of Tried and True to a whopping 71 minutes, which proves to be more than enough time to sink oneself in its ocean of lead lines and expressive exploration, classic boogie and off-the-cuff ramble, be it the scoot of “Swingin’ Wing,” which rounds out side A of the LP but feedbacks and crashes neatly into the fade-in screech and cymbals of “Zen and the Art of the Thunderstorm,” which seems to nod at the verse melody of “Within You Without You” before finding its own tense course for its relatively brief three minutes, which give way to the 14-minute title-track.

tia carrera

“Tried and True” is the longest piece on Tried and True by a margin of two, and makes a ready companion for “Visitors” and “Early Purple,” with a languid guitar solo stretching out over another solidly rhythmic exploration, the band’s reputation for coming up with this stuff on the spot meshing against the presumption that what they’re choosing to deliver on a record is only the best of the best of whatever unknown total amount might exist. The question that raises is whether or not songwriting isn’t the same thing? Aren’t even the most structured of songs at some point born of improvisations just like Tia Carrera‘s tracks here? And the trio’s modus is its own way of carving down the entirety to a piece deemed fit for consumption; they are, in essence, whittling out songs. Through creative fades in and out along the way, a feeling of longer expanse is maintained, and especially on the shorter pieces before the title-track, the sense is of Tia Carrera letting the listener have a snippet of some broader entirety.

In that way, Tried and True is in communion not only with the LP before it — and included with it, when it comes to the CD — but with the larger processes driving the band’s work. One has to wonder if perhaps the alignment of Conn and Morales with Christenson hasn’t reinvigorated the creativity of Tia Carrera as a whole, and if so, if new releases might begin to show up with more regularity, just as this one has followed behind Visitors / Early Purple. I don’t know that, of course, but for a group whose basis is in jamming, the joy of doing so is clearly expressed in these tracks — both long and short — despite whatever personality each might also demonstrate in itself. Cuts like “Swingin’ Wing,” the especially howling “Taos” and “Layback” bring glimpses at what it might be like to be in the rehearsal space with the band while they go, go, go, and on the CD, “Zen and the Art of the Thunderstorm” becomes a transition point to 49 minutes of ripper bliss that are raucous and spacious in kind. Maybe this is just how Tia Carrera roll now, and after more than 20 years together, who could say they haven’t earned the designation of being tried and true — all the more so because they remain so decidedly underrated.

The sonic elephant in the room as regards their style continues to be Earthless, but Tia Carrera distinguish themselves from that three-piece in their method of recording themselves as well as through improvisation, not to mention the personality of their play. Both come through wholly on Tried and True, whether a given listener chases down the vinyl or the compilation Tried & True & Visitors / Early Purple CD (the more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned), and one way or another, MoralesConn and Christenson shine with engaging, immersive, explosive groover jams that, unless the very idea of such a thing is a turnoff, will be hard to resist. If this is who Tia Carrera are now, and they’re going to start belting out records one after the other after more than two decades of existence, then it only serves to emphasize how righteous the spirit of their creativity has been all along.

Tia Carrera, Tried and True (2020)

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