The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2014

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

top-20-short-releases-of-2014-Samuel-Palmer-1805-1881-Morning-of-Life-1861

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I did this last year mostly as a result of not having somewhere to put¬† Looking for the best Human Robot Interaction Phd Thesis? Before you make the final choice, check out our independent reviews. Compare prices, quality & more! Elder‘s¬† BestTermPaper.com has been in the writing service industry for 19 years. Given the length of its existence, there are a great deal of Create Custom Quickly Resume Spires Burn/Release¬†EP in 2012, but it went pretty well, so I thought we’d do another round for 2014. The 2013 list¬†covered demos, singles, EPs and splits — basically everything that’s not a full-length album — and the same rules apply here. It’s a pretty basic idea, but it makes sense to me to consider short releases apart from full-lengths because very often they’re trying to accomplish different things.

For example, if an album is trying to tell a story or describe a central theme, either blatantly in its lyrics or atmospherically through the music itself, a demo might just be the work of a band trying to feel their way into their sound. It doesn’t strike me as fair to judge the two on the same standard. Likewise, if a band releases a single, should that really be judged alongside an hour-long release? Granted, some bands’ singles actually¬†are¬†an hour long, but that’s another category entirely. “The ‘Dopesmoker’ Awards” will be handed out at another date.

No, not really. At least not this year.

If you didn’t see the full-albums Top 30 of 2014, please feel free to check it out and think of this and the year-end podcast as companion pieces, albeit both a little more casual. Let’s get to it:

sleepsingle

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2014

1. Sleep, The Clarity
2. Fatso Jetson/Herba Mate, Early Shapes
3. All Them Witches, Effervescent
4. Cortez/Borracho, Split 7″
5. Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes, 4-Way Split
6. Heavy Temple, Heavy Temple
7. Death Alley, Over Under/Dead Man‚Äôs Bones 7‚ÄĚ
8. Geezer, Live! Full Tilt Boogie
9. The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues, The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues
10. Demon Head, Demo 2014
11. Gold & Silver, Azurite and Malachite
12. The Proselyte, Our Vessel’s in Need
13. Hull, Legend of the Swamp Goat
14. Lamp of the Universe/Krautzone, Split
15. The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Through the Dark Matter
16. The Heavy Co., Uno Dose
17. Wren, Wren
18. He Whose Ox is Gored, Rumors 7‚ÄĚ
19. Lewis and the Strange Magics, Demo
20. Godhunter/Secrets of the Sky, Gh/0st:s
21. Lord, Alive in Golgotha

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A couple notes:¬†The¬†Sleep¬†single was a given. I don’t think anything could’ve topped it one way or another, even if I hadn’t listened to it 100 times since its release in July as part of the¬†Adult Swim Singles Series.¬†In any case, there was no debate about where to place it. You might notice on the other end the list goes to 21. I thought that being the element of chaos suited¬†Lord¬†well, and since I’m not entirely sure their¬†Alive in Golgotha¬†EP has been officially released, they warranted inclusion just in case.

One thing that struck me in putting this list together was the amount of splits included. You’ll notice¬†Fatso Jetson¬†and¬†Herba Mate‘s¬†Early Shapes¬†right in behind¬†Sleep. That one was an utter joy, as far as I’m concerned, and made me wish both of them would get on putting out full-lengths as soon as possible. Not far behind is¬†Cortez¬†and¬†Borracho‘s split single, which had killer tracks from both bands, and the¬†Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes¬†split from¬†Heavy Psych Sounds¬†that, even with four bands involved, managed to keep a flowing atmosphere front to back, which was impressive enough in and of itself, never mind the individual contributions of those four acts, which were also top quality. The¬†Krautzone/Lamp of the Universe¬†split also provided a considerable psych blissout, and¬†Godhunter‘s split/collaboration with¬†Secrets of the Sky¬†earned extra points for its adventurous spirit and the payoff its risk-taking brought to bear.

Like their¬†Lightning at the Door¬†LP,¬†All Them Witches‘¬†Effervescent¬†25-minute jam figured heavily in my 2014 listening habits, as did¬†Heavy Temple‘s self-titled debut EP. Dutch garage/heavy punkers¬†Death Alley¬†earned spins with their debut 7″, a lack of pretense in melding proto-thrash and heavy rock impulses allowing them to quickly find a niche that one hopes they continue to develop. Their debut single, along with¬†Demon Head‘s¬†Demo 2014¬†(and, indeed, that band’s¬†follow-up single)¬†and the¬†Lewis and the Strange Magics¬†demo were an allay to concerns retro-minded rock might be stagnating.

Geezer¬†featured on the Short Releases list last year as well. I wasn’t sure what to do with their¬†Gage¬†12″, since it was released in 2013 as an EP and 2014 as an LP, but either way, their¬†Live! Full Tilt Boogie¬†tape effortlessly recalled classic blues rock performances and demonstrated the fluid chemistry at work in the New York trio, I hope it’s not the last live release they do. Along similar bluesy lines,¬†The Heavy Co.‘s¬†Uno Dose¬†found the Hoosier three-piece dipping into heavy jams more than their last full-length, and if that’s the direction they’re headed, you won’t hear me argue. Hailing from¬†Sweden and arriving as an offshoot of¬†Asteroid, the single-song EP from¬†The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues¬†had more than a touch of heavy blues to it too, and made me look forward to that project’s development from here on out.

There’s little I’m going to complain about less than hearing¬†Ed Mundell¬†bust out¬†Miles Davis-inspired solos, so yeah,¬†The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s¬†Through the Dark Matter¬†EP gets a nod.¬†Impressive guitar work ran a current through Boston duo¬†Gold & Silver‘s debut EP,¬†Azurite and Malachite, but the proggy feel was what ultimately sold me on the two extended instrumentals included there, whereas with fellow Beantowners¬†The Proselyte, it was the catchy songwriting and variety they showed in just four tracks. The¬†He Whose Ox is Gored¬†7″ was likewise modern and satisfyingly weighted, though obviously shorter, and last but not at all least, the progressive sludge of¬†Wren‘s self-titled EP seemed to fly under a lot of people’s radar but was a markedly individual take on a well established form that portended of good things to come.

As with everything, I’m sure there’s something in this mix that I forgot. If you’ve got a call you want to make on something, please let loose in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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On the Radar: The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues

Posted in On the Radar on September 11th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

the sun the moon and the witch's blues

There are probably a couple distinct jams within the 18-minute span of the eponymous track on Swedish duo¬†The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues‘ self-titled debut EP, in terms of the songwriting. By that I mean ¬†although the¬†√Ėrebro duo of¬†Robin Hirse¬†(ex-Asteroid) and Jonas¬†Ljungkvist get pretty deep in an immersive flow, it still sounds like more happened in the track than they hit record and went to town on an improv heavy psych exploration. Individual movements they may be, still better to get lost in the whole. The beginning unfolds with echoing¬†Morricone guitar, and unfolds a slow heavy rock groove, and they proceed through numerous shifts and movements that piece together well but have some breaks between them as well. What individual titles might be, I don’t know, but with the results¬†Hirse¬†and¬†Ljungkvist¬†get across the sprawl in “The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues,” which fleshes out with organ before the vocals kick in right around the five-minute mark, I’m not about to argue.

Hirse‘s voice will sound familiar to those who heard him with¬†Asteroid, who released their second and apparently final full-length in 2010’s¬†II¬†(review here), and to a degree, one might consider the new, cumbersomely-monikered two-piece an outgrowth from that album’s jam-minded heavy rock sensibility, but the feel on¬†The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues¬†represents a discernible stylistic shift as well, and not just in the the sun the moon and the witch's blues self titledoccasional Westernism. The vibe here is bluesier, the build looser.¬†Hirse¬†and¬†Ljungqvist credit Tobias Eriksson, Joakim Kohlscheen and Jimmi Kohlscheen as “helping” with the EP and don’t get more specific than that, but they’re definitely working toward a full-band aesthetic one way or another, rather than the minimalism that duos can sometimes purposefully convey. Even as “The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues” pushes through its heavier apex and into foot-stomp-and-hand-clap revival, vocals layered for a near-gospel effect, this is true in the space the song creates, and as the song is led into its final phase groove by the guitar, one gets a sense of a unit clicking pedals on to make the machine go.

I was a nerd for¬†Hirse‘s prior outfit even unto their swansong 7″ (review here), and¬†The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues¬†present enough of a turn sonically to clearly be on their own path, but neither is the development of¬†Hirse‘s craft scrapped entirely or burned to the ground in favor of starting completely over. What the EP sounds like, when you get right to it, is a vinyl side, and after listening through more than a couple times in the days since its Sept. 6 release, I’d like to find out¬†what’s on side B.¬†The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues¬†are reportedly heading back into the studio in short order, so it might not be all that long before we get there. Right on.

The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues, Self-titled EP (2014)

The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues on Thee Facebooks

The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues on Bandcamp

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