Quarterly Review: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Dopethrone, Anandammide, Tigers on Opium, Bill Fisher, Ascia, Cloud of Souls, Deaf Wolf, Alber Jupiter, Cleen

Posted in Reviews on May 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


It is an age of plenty as regards the underground. Between bands being able to form with members on different continents, to being able to record basically anything anywhere anywhen, the barriers have never been lower. I heard an all-AI stoner rock record the other day. It wasn’t great, but did it need to be?

The point is there’s gotta be a reason so many people are doing the thing, and a reason it happens just about everywhere, more than just working/middle class disaffection and/or dadstalgia. There’s a lot of documentary research about bands, but so far I don’t think anyone’s done a study, book, bio-doc, whatever about the proliferation of heavy sounds across geographies and cultures. No, that won’t be me. “Face made for radio,” as the fellow once said, and little time to write a book. But perhaps some riff-loving anthropologist will get there one day — get everywhere, that is — and explore it with artists and fans. Maybe that’s you.

Happy Thursday.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Nell’ Ora Blu

uncle acid and the deadbeats nell ora blu

My favorite part of the press release for Uncle Acid‘s Nell’ Ora Blu was when founding guitarist/vocalist and apparent-auteur Kevin Starrs said, “I know something like this might have limited appeal, but who cares?” Though it was initially billed as an instrumental record and in fact features Starrs‘ trademark creeper vocal melodies in a few of its 19 tracks, the early “Giustizia di Strada/Lavora Fino Alla Morte” and pretty-UncleAcidic-feeling “La Vipera,” and the later march of the seven-minute “Pomeriggio di Novembre Nel Parco – Occhi Che Osservano,” catchy and still obscure enough in its psychedelia to fit, and “Solo la Morte Ti Ammanetta,” though most of the words throughout are spoken — genre cinephiles will recognize the names Edwige French and Franco Nero; there’s a lot of talking on the phone, all in Italian — as Starrs pays homage to giallo stylization in soundtracking an imaginary film. It’s true to an extent about the limited appeal, but this isn’t the first time Uncle Acid have chosen against expanding their commercial reach either, and while I imagine the effect is somewhat different if you speak Italian, Starrs‘ songwriting has never been so open or multifaceted in mood. Nell’ Ora Blu isn’t the studio follow-up to 2018’s Wasteland (review here) one might have expected, but it takes some of those aspects and builds a whole world out of them. They should tour it and do a live soundtrack, but then I guess someone would also have to make the movie.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on Facebook

Rise Above Records website

Dopethrone, Broke Sabbath

Dopethrone Broke Sabbath

If “fuck you” were a band, it might be Dopethrone. With six new tracks spread across a sample-laced (pretty sure Joe Don Baker is in there somewhere; maybe “Truckstop Warlock?”) and mostly-crushing-of-spirit-and-tone 39 minutes, the crusty Montreal trio of guitarist/vocalist Vince, bassist Vyk and drummer Shawn pound at the door of your wellness with their scum-sludge extremity, living up to their reputation in gnash and nastiness for the duration. The penultimate “Uniworse” brings in Weedeater‘s “Dixie” Dave Collins for a guest spot, but by the time they get there, the three-piece have already bludgeoned your bones with album-centerpiece “Shlaghammer” and loosed the grueling breadth of “Rock Slock,” so really, Collins is the gravy on the pill-based bottom-hitting binge. From opening single “Life Kills You” through the final punishing moments of “Sultans of Sins” — presumably a side B mirror in terms of heft to “Slaghammer” — and the choice Billy Madison sample that follows, Dopethrone offer a singular unkindness of purpose. I feel like I need a shower.

Dopethrone on Facebook

Totem Cat Records store

Anandammide, Eura


Where even the melancholy progression of “Song of Greed” is marked by the gorgeousness of its dual-vocal melody and flowing arrangement of strings, guitar, and strings, Eura is the second full-length and Sulatron Records label-debut for Parisian psych-folkies Anandammide. At the core of the diverse arrangements is songwriter Michele Moschini (vocals, synth, organ, guitar, drums), who brings purposefully Canterburyian pastoralia together with prog rock tendencies on “Phantom Limb” and the title-track while maintaining the light-touch gentility of the start of “Carmilla,” the later flow between “Lullaby No. 2” and “Dream No. 1,” or the gracefully undrummed “I Am a Flower,” with synth and strings side-by-side. Though somewhat mournful in its subject matter, Eura is filled with life and longing, and the way the lyrics of “Phantom Limb” feel out of place in the world suits the aural anachronism and the escapist drive that seems to manifest in “The Orange Flood.” Patient, immersive, and lovely, it sees ruin and would give solace.

Anandammide on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Tigers on Opium, Psychodrama

tigers on opium psychodrama

An awaited first full-length from Portland, Oregon’s Tigers on Opium, the 10-song/44-minute Psychodrama builds on the semi-sleazed accomplishments of the four-piece’s prior EPs while presenting a refreshingly varied sound. The album begins as “Ride or Die” unfolds with Juan Carlos Caceres‘ vocals echoing in layers over quiet guitar — more of an intro, it is reprised to deliver the title line as a post-finale epilogue — and directly dives into garage-doom strut with “Black Mass” before a Styx reference worked into “Diabolique” makes for an immediate, plus-charm highlight. The parade doesn’t stop there. The Nirvana-ish beginning of “Retrovertigo” soft-boogies and drifts into Jerry Cantrell-style melody backed by handclaps, while Thin Lizzy leads show up in “Sky Below My Feet” and the more desert rocking “Paradise Lost” ahead of the farther-back, open swing and push of “Radioactive” giving over to “Wall of Silence”‘s ’70s singer-songwriterism, communing with the “Ride or Die” bookend but expanded in its arrangement; capper-caper “Separation of the Mind” paying it all off like Queens of the Stone Age finding the Big Riff and making it dance, too. On vocals, guitar and keys, Caceres is a big presence in the persona, but don’t let that undercut the contributions of guitarist Jeanot Lewis-Rolland, bassist Charles Hodge or drummer Nate Wright, all of whom also sing. As complex in intent as Psychodrama is, its underlying cohesion requires everybody to be on board, and as they are, the resulting songs supersede expectation and comprise one of 2024’s best debut albums.

Tigers on Opium on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Bill Fisher, How to Think Like a Billionaire

Bill Fisher How To Think Like A Billionaire

Self-identifying as “yacht doom,” How to Think Like a Billionaire is the third solo full-length from Church of the Cosmic Skull‘s Bill Fisher, and while “Consume the Heart” and “Yell of the Ringman” tinge toward darkness and, in the case of the latter, a pointedly doomly plog, what the “yacht” translates to is a swath of ’80s-pop keyboard sounds and piano rock accompanying Fisher‘s guitar, vocals, bass and drums, a song like “Xanadu” sending up tech-culture hubris after “Ride On, Unicorn” has given a faux-encouraging push in its chorus, rhyming “Ride on, unicorn” with “In the valley of Silicon.” Elsewhere, “Overview Effect” brings the cover to life in imagining the apocalypse from the comfort of a private spaceship, while “Lead Us Into Fire” idolizes a lack of accountability in self-harmonizing layers with the thud that complements “Intranaut” deeper in the mix and the sense that, if you were a big enough asshole and on enough cocaine, it might just be possible Fisher means it when he sings in praise of capitalist hyperexploitation. A satire much needed and a perspective to be valued, if likely not by venture capital.

Bill Fisher on Facebook

Bill Fisher website

Ascia, The Wandering Warrior

ascia the wandering warrior

While one could liken the echo-born space that coincides with the gallop of opening cut “Greenland” to any number of other outfits, and the concluding title-track branches out both in terms of tempo and melodic reach, Ascia‘s debut long-player, The Wandering Warrior follows on from the project’s demoes in counting earliest High on Fire as a defining influence. Fair enough, since the aforementioned two are both the most recent included here and the only songs not culled from the three prior demos issued by Fabrizio Monni (also Black Capricorn) under the Ascia name. With the languid fluidity and impact of “Mother of the Wendol” and the outright thrust of “Blood Bridge Battle,” “Ruins of War” and “Dhul Qarnayn” set next to the bombastic crash ‘n’ riff of “Serpent of Fire,” Monni has no trouble harnessing a flow from the repurposed, remastered material, and picking and choosing from among three shorter releases lets him portray Ascia‘s range in a new light. That may not be able to happen in the same way next time around (or it could), but for those who did or didn’t catch the demos, The Wandering Warrior summarizes well the band’s progression to this point and gives hope for more to come.

Ascia on Bandcamp

Perpetual Eclipse Productions store

Cloud of Souls, A Constant State of Flux

Cloud of Souls A Constant State of Flux

Indianapolis-based solo-project Cloud of Souls — aka Chris Latta (ex-Spirit Division, Lavaborne, etc.) — diverges from the progressive metallurgy of 2023’s A Fate Decided (review here) in favor of a more generally subdued, contemplative presentation. Beginning with its title-track, the five-song/36-minute outing marks out the spaces it will occupy and seems to dwell there as the individual cuts play out, whether that’s “A Constant State of Flux” holding to its piano-and-voice, the melancholic procession of the nine-minute “Better Than I Was,” or the sax that accompanies the downerism of the penultimate “Love to Forgive Wish to Forget.” Each song brings something different either in instrumentation or vibe — “Homewrecker Blues” harmonizes en route to a momentary tempo pickup laced with organ, closer “Break Down the Door” offers hope in its later guitar and crash, etc. — but it can be a fine line when conveying monotony or low-key depressivism, and there are times where A Constant State of Flux feels stuck in its own verses, despite Latta‘s strength of craft and the band’s exploratory nature.

Cloud of Souls on Facebook

Cloud of Souls on Bandcamp

Deaf Wolf, Not Today, Satan

Deaf Wolf Not Today Satan

Not Today, Satan, in either its 52-minute runtime or in the range of its songcraft around a central influence from Queens of the Stone Age circa 2002-2005, is not a minor undertaking. The ambitious debut full-length from Berlin trio Deaf Wolf — guitarist/vocalist Christian Rottstock (also theremin on “Silence is Golden”), bassist/vocalist Hagen Walther and Alexander Dümont on drums and other percussion — adds periodic lead-vocal tradeoffs between Rottstock and Walther to further broaden the scope of the material, with (I believe) the latter handling the declarations of “Survivor” and the gurgle-voice on “S.M.T.P.” and “Beast in Me,” which arrive in succession before “The End” closes with emphasis on self-awareness. The earlier “Sulphur” becomes a standout for its locked-in groove, fuzz tones and balanced mix, while “See You in Hell” finds its own direction and potential in strut and fullness of sound. There’s room to refine some of what’s being attempted, but Not Today, Satan sets Deaf Wolf off to an encouraging start.

Deaf Wolf on Facebook

Deaf Wolf on Bandcamp

Alber Jupiter, Puis Vient la Nuit

Alber Jupiter Puis Vient la Nuit

Five years on from their also-newly-reissued 2019 debut, We Are Just Floating in Space, French instrumentalist heavy space rock two-piece Alber Jupiter — bassist Nicolas Terroitin, drummer Jonathan Sonney, and both of them on what would seem to be all the synth until Steven Michel guests in that regard on “Captain Captain” and the title-track — make a cosmic return with Puis Vient la Nuit, the bulk of which is unfurled through four cuts between seven and 10 minutes long after a droning buildup in “Intro.” If you’re waiting for the Slift comparison somewhat inevitable these days anywhere near the words “French” and “space,” keep waiting. There’s some shuffle in the groove of “Daddy’s Spaceship” and “Captain Captain” before it departs for a final minute-plus of residual cosmic background, sure, but the gradual way “Pas de Bol Pour Peter” hits its midpoint apex and the wash brought to fruition in “Daddy’s Spaceship” and “Puis Vient la Nuit” itself is digging in on a different kind of vibe, almost cinematic in its vocal-less drama, broad in dynamic and encompassing on headphones as it gracefully sweeps into the farther reaches of far out, slow in escape velocity but with depth in three dimensions. It is a journey not to be missed.

Alber Jupiter on Facebook

Foundrage Label on Bandcamp

Up in Her Room Records on Bandcamp

Araki Records on Bandcamp

Cleen, Excursion

cleen excursion

There’s something of a narrative happening in at least most of the 10 tracks of Cleen‘s impressive debut album, Excursion, as the character speaking in the lyrics drifts through space and eventually meets a perhaps gruesome end, but by the time they’re closing with “A Means to an End” (get it?), the Flint, Michigan, trio of guitarist/vocalist Patrick, bassist Cooley and drummer Jordan are content to leave it at, “I just wanna worship satan and go the fuck to sleep.” Not arguing. Their sound boasts an oozing cosmic ethereality that might remind a given listener of Rezn here and there, but in the post-grunge-meets-post-punk-oh-and-there’s-a-scream movement of “No One Remembers but You,” the punkier shove in the first half of “Year of the Reaper,” the dirt-fuzz jangle of “Aroya” and the sheer heft of “Menticidal Betrayal,” “Sultane of Sand” and “Fatal Blow,” Cleen blend elements in a manner that’s modern but well on its way to being their own in addition to being a nodding clarion for the converted.

Cleen on Facebook

Electric Desert Records website


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Dopethrone Post “Life Kills You”; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Montreal extreme sludgers Dopethrone — they call it ‘slutch’, presumably because the harder consonant sound makes it nastier, which it kind of does — have a Western Canadian tour coming up with Severed Arm that will take them from British Columbia through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba before it’s done, and apparently a new album for Totem Cat Records. The latter will be the three-piece’s first since 2018’s Transcanadian Anger (review here), and for proof of life, the band have posted “Life Kills You” — also the name of the tour, either will or won’t be the name of the LP — to sate the disaffected masses yearning for their particular brand of fuckall.

When’s the album coming? I don’t know. They make a point of not saying. Maybe tomorrow, maybe yesterday, as Ben Sisko once put it. But knowing such a thing is in their pocket is a comforting discomfort, and one imagines they might want to take a few records to the UK with them when they go to headline Masters of the Riff III (info here) as an exclusive appearance, so it could be that the pressing is in the works for March, could be April for the tour dates listed below, or could be never because fuck you anyway it’s Dopethrone and that’s just how it is. I won’t pretend to know the future, but if I see a definite date or more details, I’ll post accordingly.

Till then, the track’s at the bottom of the post, just under the tour dates and album-existence announcement:


Our slutchiest album is ready to shart blood in your eardrums.

No, we’re not telling you when.

Recorded and mixed by Jean-Baptiste Joubeaud
Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege

Videoclip by Vincent Houde, Marianne Martinez and Rodolphe Tremblay

Music by Dopethrone, Lyrics by Vincent Houde

New album coming out 2024 on Totem Cat Records: https://totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com

NAME YOUR PRICE DL: https://dopethrone.bandcamp.com/


19/04/24 Victoria, BC – Wicket Hall
20/04/24 Vancouver, BC – Green Auto
21/04/24 Kelowna, BC – Jackknife Brewery
22/04/24 Nelson, BC – The Royal
24/04/24 Edmonton, AB – The Buckingham
25/04/24 Calgary, AB – Modern Love
26/04/24 Regina, SK – The Exchange
27/04/24 Winnipeg, MB – Handsome Daughter

Artwork by Max from The Death Wheelers

Dopethrone is :
Vince : Guitar / Vocals
Vyk : Bass
Shawn : Drums



Dopethrone, “Life Kills You”

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Album Review: Various Artists, Cadaver Monuments

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Various Artists Cadaver Monuments

Based in Brest, France, and founded in 2010, Totem Cat Records marks its 50th release in admirably punishing style with the four-way split Cadaver Monuments. Given the opportunity to say something about the imprint’s ongoing mission, Cadaver Monuments teems with curated filth. You start with 16. Okay? That’s where you start. Then you’ve got Arkansas’ Deadbird, and then Nightstick show up and as will happen in such instances, shit goes right off the rails. And to mop up the innards, outtards, uppers and downers is chemically-preserved Ohio mainstays Fistula, who sound at this point like they should be on tour with Cannibal Corpse. That’s Totem Cat declaring who they are? It’s not the entirety of the label’s scope, but while also giving a home to bands like Karma to Burn and Bongzilla — and let’s not forget releasing the most recent offering from Sons of Otis; peace upon it — founder Ewenn Padovan has displayed a penchant for the nastier end of nasty, and in that regard, Cadaver Monuments is one hell of a party.

But understand, this isn’t a party like you show up and there’s a bounce-house or somebody’s got the grill going and you’re playing some tunes in the back yard. This is a party like oops someone just overdosed. Consider the trajectory of the included 13 songs and 53 minutes of music. First of all, it’s hilarious to find a context in which 16 seem like the voice of reason, but even as they launch the collection with “Crust Fund” — the chorus of which just might be, “You suck” — and all due bloodboil, Cadaver Monuments pushes deeper from there with Deadbird‘s generally-semi-hinged atmosludge, the will-forever-be-avant-garde-because-they’re-ahead-of-a-time-that’s-never-coming garage crust wrought by Nightstick, and Fistula‘s death-spreading pestilent extremity, still somehow rooted in punk if not to the degree of Nightstick, who share a sense of suburban fuckery, hopelessness and disillusion. The progression feels purposeful and it is consuming. “Crust Fund” is the shortest cut at 2:30 save for “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum” by Nightstick still to come, and is backed by the Black Flag cover “Beat My Head Against the Wall,” which is respectfully delivered, and the Los Angeles mainstays finish “Broken Minds,” an easy pick for a highlight of the split with the kind of violence-inducing chug that 16‘s most recent LP, 2022’s Into Dust (review here), so gloriously proffered.

They are well met by Deadbird, whose sound has always spoken to me of some nighttime threat, probably in the woods, but who doom on “Static Pain” with a lurch that’s more in league with the emotionalism of Warning until the screaming starts, if rawer in the recording. As each band gets about 10-15 minutes, Deadbird complement the original track with a take on Celtic Frost‘s “Dethroned Emperor” that picks up from the drone that ends “Static Pain” with amp noise and that classic riff. I don’t know where or when the band recorded this cover, but it’s a shift in production from “Static Pain” (I think) that keeps clarity even as “Dethroned Emperor” grows madder after its initial verse and continues its thrust toward its coming-apart-but-fuck-it ending. Deadbird don’t do a ton outside their local area, but the band goes back over 20 years — you might recall they’re tight with Rwake, whose frontman CT has taken part and I think does at least some vocals here — and if you can catch them, it would be advisable. The transition from them to Nightstick is the most dramatic aesthetic shift Cadaver Monuments has to make. True to form, swagger and fuckall seal it.

16 (Photo by Chad Kelco)

Deadbird (photo by Adam Peterson)



If you’re unfamiliar with the oeuvre of the South Shore, Massachusetts-based experimental unit, they are truly a psychological experience. They begin with “The Ballad of Richie Gardner” — who the hell is Richie Gardner? I don’t know but he’s probably dead or in jail — and tell a tale of local sexual abuse that might have happened in real life before breaking the track in half and jamming out on the kind of riff that makes you go up to them after the show. Nighstick subsequently slunk into a cover of The Beatles‘ “Yer Blues” that is so much more about death than the blues as to remove the pop from one of the greatest pop songwriters of all-time — it rules, it’s scathing, it’s certainly true to the spirit of the original and the lyrics, and I have to think that somewhere out there a 90-year-old experimentalist artist named Yoko Ono would approve. “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum” is mostly vocals but has some acoustic guitar and seagulls at the end — folk Americana, about homelessness — and the noise and distortion rumbling in “Elizabeth (For Larry Lifeless)” as the titular name is repeated in drawling fashion, while a woman, presumably Elizabeth, says, “You can’t find me, I’m a ghost,” over and over.

Vague and sad in like proportion and blowing out in the last of its sub-three minutes with jazz drums and consuming static wub, “Elizabeth (For Larry Lifeless)” sounds like what you’d find if American popular culture took off its makeup. Like Swans but working class punk instead of arthouse couture. Of course they finish with a take on Wilson Pickett‘s famous “Land of 1,000 Dances,” grunting out the names of dances from the first half of the 1960s with Hellhammer rawness behind. Solo is a total wash. It’s not the kind of fuckery everyone will be able to level with, but the big end and sampled laughs at the end of Nightstick‘s time are a fair enough lead into Fistula, who begin with outright slaughter disguised as “The Toll.” Denser in tone than when I last encountered them, the last of Cadaver Monuments‘ four features roll disgustingly slow and top their harsh-your-mellow megasludge with gnashing, nodule-forming, actually-sounds-like-a-monster monstrous vocals — the whisper to kill yourself before the mosh riff notwithstanding — and from there “The Toll” hits into grindcore, which is both long established in Fistula‘s wheelhouse and, frankly, called for by the proceedings to this point.

I won’t say much for the sentiment behind “Methican American,” but if you’re so hard up that you’re going to Fistula for kindnesses, I recommend a hasty rethink on your entire life. Going fast to slow to fast to slow to fast and injecting low growls under the manic gnashing, the song comes across, well, like it went to Fistula for kindnesses. It and split-capper “Words Decompose” are thick like the concrete in the foundation of a new federal prison, with double-kick furthering the assault as the third of Fistula‘s three inclusion lumbers through its verse. They’ll finish quiet — which is hilarious — but answer the call to violence of 16 earlier with their own urgency. It is not the wildest, most insane I’ve ever heard Fistula sound, and it’s metal-based more than punk, but if they’re methodical in their killing, they’re no less lethal for that.

16 got together in 1991, Nightstick in 1992, Fistula in 1998, and Deadbird in 2002 with a pedigree that goes back farther. For its 50th release, Totem Cat Records embraced the chance to thank its audience, to give the people who’ve followed the label’s growth something special, and to communicate the ethics by which it at least in part operates. These are not short-term bands who tried to make a flash-in-the-pan impact and faded away when the next thing came along on Bandcamp. These are acts who’ve stood up to time and whose respective approaches vary but are uniformly uncompromising. That’s setting a high standard to attain, but the label should be used to that by now too.

VA, Cadaver Monuments (2023)

16 on Facebook

16 on Instagram

16 on Bandcamp

Deadbird on Facebook

Deadbird on YouTube

Deadbird on Bandcamp

Nightstick on Bandcamp

Fistula on Facebook

Fistula on Instagram

Fistula on Bandcamp

Totem Cat Records on Facebook

Totem Cat Records on Instagram

Totem Cat Records store

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Full Album Premiere & Review: Lucid Sins, Dancing in the Dark

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 26th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Lucid Sins Dancing in the Dark

Glasgow duo Lucid Sins — joined in the cause by a host of friends and collaborators — release their third album, Dancing in the Dark, this week through Totem Cat Records. Deeply informed by classic progressive rock, with more than a flash of Canterbury folk in “Sanctuary Stone” but a broad enough scope that when the two-piece of multi-instrumentalists Andreas Jönsson (lead vocals, guitar bass, organ, synth) and Ruaraidh Sanachan (backing vocals) jam out with returning collaborator Stuart Coleman on sax at the end of closer “Catch the Wild,” indeed they seem to have done just that, but more to the point it’s not out of place. The record begins with “Jack of Diamonds” and within two minutes is basking in dappled sunshine through leaves of classic, organic melody.

Through the entirety of its 10 songs and 37 minutes — which you can and probably should hear premiering on the player below — Lucid SinsDancing in the Dark unfurls (sometimes not) subtle breadth and craft a sound that’s heavy at its root but that can grow expansive enough to account for the harpsichord of “In the Woods (The Drifter),” which follows the storytelling of “Jack of Diamonds” with an outright promotion of a naturalist ethos; the character of The Drifter is, you guessed it, in the woods. “Some call him crazy and some call him weird/But his is a life without burden or fear/So spare him your pity, for he carries no shame/And who is the lord of his own domain if not he who lives free as the wind and the rain?” And the lines in the fadeout, “In the woods/Life is good,” reinforce the message. Still light-touch and ’70s warm in tone, “The Dance” blends acoustic and electric guitar, leaving room for handclap flourish in its shuffle, lush vocals over top, and the party continues in “Take Me With You,” which brings Dunbarrow‘s Espen Anderson in for a duet and Coleman again on organ.

Shifts in arrangement and guests coming and going are part of the personality of Dancing in the Dark, but by no means are they the substance of it. The above-quoted lyrics from “In the Woods (The Drifter)” lay out a position and perspective against modernity, and the aesthetic follows through on that, but somehow Lucid Sins aren’t retro. Production might have something to do with that, but what they seem to envision across Dancing in the Dark is a malleable heavy folk, inherently progressive rather than consciously showy in terms of technique, and in “Take Me With You” they push about as far into rhythmic urgency as they’ll go, and it’s not so much that it’s faster than “The Dance” just before — “The Dance,” by the way, is the best gothic post-punk boogie I’ve ever heard from an ostensibly psychedelic folk-prog Scottish two-piece; admittedly not a lot of competition, and yes, that’s a compliment — which makes it exceptionally well positioned to lead into the soft guitar harmonies and all-in folk cultism of presumed side A capper “Sanctuary Stone.”

Multi-media artist and experimentalist Hanna Tuulikki contributes the first of two guest vocal spots to “Sanctuary Stone,” taking on the lead role with backing from Jönsson to mark Dancing in the Dark‘s turning point. On the most basic, superficial level, at this point the listener has had “The Dance,” and side B will bring “A Call in the Dark” to fulfill the title’s promise. While remaining consistent in tone — in other words, it’s still the same record — Lucid Sins lean into proto-doom through “A Call in the Dark” while nonetheless bouncing almost maddeningly LUCID SINSthrough repetitions of “A call in the dark/A call in the darkness” like some woodland satyr about to cast a spell to make your face fall off.

A brooding, creeping riff matches the lyrical narrative, and the song almost seems to be teasing as it moves through the catchy-if-intentionally-disorienting hook. Though it has plenty of stops as it loops around, “A Call in the Dark” gives over to the organ melancholy and watery verse vocals of “The Toll,” a quiet dirge that rises in the chorus and recedes again from there. “The Toll” is the shortest cut on Dancing in the Dark at 2:55, and one can’t help but wonder if we’re meeting the same character from “In the Woods (The Drifter),” whose potential unceremonious end is marked by, yes, a bell, and the final lines, “He’s frozen and his eyes are turning blind/He starts to stumble and he falls/The final words that no one will recall/Now lying still without the strength to crawl.”

It’s not a minor jump from there to the handclaps in the second half of “From the Bough,” but side B centerpiece is a masterclass in how to sound angular without being inaccessible, proto-doom in form and progressive in construction. With shades of some of earlier Hexvessel‘s stately delivery and folkish base, organ or synth runs alongside the guitar and gives some melodic shimmer to the distortion, mixed for complement rather than contrast. When that song — which is kind of a dance, if we’re being honest — finishes, the penultimate “The Raven’s Eye” marks the return of Tuulikki, this time sharing a duet with Jönsson over a languid procession of contemplative heavy folk. With the relative blowout still to come in “Catch the Wild,” Lucid Sins can afford to really dig into “The Raven’s Eye,” and they seem to do just that, with what starts as a richly arranged waltz shifting toward chime-inclusive soothing psych-rock. They drop out for a last verse, Jönsson alone at first, then with Tuulikki and organ as they gently let go.

As they have been all along, the band remains clever, classy and thoughtful in “Catch the Wild,” setting out with an acoustic/electric guitar blend and cycles through medieval-ish intro twists before smoothing out and suggesting someone open a window. Like in “From the Bough,” there’s tension in the groove of “Catch the Wild” pulling the listener forward through the measures of the verse, and there’s a chorus that takes hold just once before they’re into the instrumental ending, sax and all, but the entire five-minute span (the longest inclusion here) is about the linear trajectory more than anything, and Lucid Sins seem to be finding their way back to the bit of swagger in “Jack of Diamonds” as they wrap “Catch the Wild.” Fitting somehow for the record to follow a full-circle trajectory as so much of it feels rounded at the edges and it derives the bulk of its heaviness not from tonal manipulation, but atmosphere, then mood, and yes, the lyrics throughout, which should be considered an essential facet of engaging the whole of Dancing in the Dark‘s almost counterintuitively vibrant realization. The album is gorgeous the way moss on wood can be art.

Please enjoy:

LUCID SINS “Dancing In The Dark” Out October 27th on Totem Cat Records

The story goes as follows… You stumble through the forest. Alone and far from home. All paths have returned you to this place. Lost in a world of green. Hidden in the dark. As the light fades you glimpse flickering flame and catch the scent of smoke. In a tiny clearing, shadows cast by a dying fire take human-esque forms. Leaning in for warmth, they share ten tales of hope and betrayal, magic and madness, love and death. Whispered words mingle with distant memories, and as the fire grows higher, your sense of self is scorched and burned. One by one now, the figures begin to dance and spin as occult psychedelic sounds drift through the trees. Caught in the maelstrom, suspended high in a swirling mesh of leaves and perception, you release your grip on space and time… On the forest floor, stirred by dawn, you try to make sense of the mist within your mind. To recall where you have been. To know who you once were. Around a glowing fire, deep in the woods, LUCID SINS are Dancing In The Dark… Will you dance with them?

1. Jack Of Diamonds
2. In The Woods (The Drifter)
3. The Dance
4. Take Me With You
5. Sanctuary Stone
6. A Call In The Dark
7. The Toll
8. From The Bough
9. The Raven’s Eye
10. Catch The Wild

LUCID SINS on “Dancing in the Dark”
Andreas Jönsson – Vocals, guitars, bass, organ, synthesizer
Ruaraidh Sanachan – Drums, bass, percussion, organ, mellotron, recorder, backing vocals

with guests
Espen Andersen, Vocals (track 3)
Stuart Coleman, Hammond Organ (track 3)
Hanna Tuulikki, Vocals (tracks 5 & 9)
Alex Ward, Clarinet (track 10)
+++ Cover art by David V. D’Andrea

Lucid Sins, “Jack of Diamonds” official video

Lucid Sins on Facebook

Lucid Sins on Instagram

Lucid Sins on Bandcamp

Totem Cat Records on Facebook

Totem Cat Records on Instagram

Totem Cat Records store

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Lucid Sins to Release Dancing in the Dark Oct. 27; UK Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Inherently classy but admirably unpretentious for what could easily fall down a stone staircase of self-indulgence, Lucid Sins have posted the opening track from their new album, Dancing in the Dark, bringing together vintage heavy and progressive rock sounds with an underlying folk influence. The Glasgow duo issued their second LP, Cursed! (review here), in 2021, and like that album, the Oct. 27 release will arrive with the backing of Totem Cat Records. You can hear the lush melody and almost soothing groove of “Jack of Diamonds” in the video below.

The PR wire sent the album art — by David V. D’Andrea, no less; speaking of classy — and info along, including dates for a UK tour that Lucid Sins will undertake starting Oct. 14 in Aberdeen.

Arcane knowledge follows:

Lucid Sins Dancing in the Dark

Glasgow 70s psych rockers LUCID SINS share debut single off new album “Dancing in the Dark” on Totem Cat Records; UK shows announced!

Scotland’s 70s occult rock goldsmiths LUCID SINS return with their third full-length “Dancing In the Dark” this October 27th on Totem Cat Records with a first single premiering exclusively on It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine. The band also just announced a string of UK fall dates including shows with Nebula and Hey Colossus.

From the moment Glasgow’s own 70s rock masters LUCID SINS catch your ear, you know you are in for a long-haul adventure: driven by their own wizardry and prodigious mastery of all instruments, the duo of Ruaraidh Sanachan and Andreas Johnsson bewitches you from the get-go. While their 2021 sophomore album “Cursed” presented an intoxicating and unwaveringly prog-oriented brew of proto-rock that sat firmly between Blue Öyster Cult and The Doors, their third album flips a brand new page of their sonic grimoire.

A collaborative effort of interconnected souls, “Dancing In The Dark” summons the talents of various guest musicians to form a fluid and melody-driven story where occult rock meets folk and proto-doom in a hypnotic swirl of riffs and keys carried by Jonsson’s compelling poetry. Firmly rooted in the 60s and 70s sound, LUCID SINS manages to uplift spirits while dragging you once again in the occult, meeting the boundary-free creativity of their contemporaries Witchcraft, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats to the more seamless lightheartedness of Fairport Convention.

The story goes as follows… You stumble through the forest. Alone and far from home. All paths have returned you to this place. Lost in a world of green. Hidden in the dark. As the light fades you glimpse flickering flame and catch the scent of smoke. In a tiny clearing, shadows cast by a dying fire take human-esque forms. Leaning in for warmth, they share ten tales of hope and betrayal, magic and madness, love and death. Whispered words mingle with distant memories, and as the fire grows higher, your sense of self is scorched and burned. One by one now, the figures begin to dance and spin as occult psychedelic sounds drift through the trees. Caught in the maelstrom, suspended high in a swirling mesh of leaves and perception, you release your grip on space and time… On the forest floor, stirred by dawn, you try to make sense of the mist within your mind. To recall where you have been. To know who you once were. Around a glowing fire, deep in the woods, LUCID SINS are Dancing In The Dark… Will you dance with them?

LUCID SINS on tour:
October 14th – Aberdeen, The Rusty Nail
October 15th – Glasgow, Ivory Blacks (w/ Nebula)
October 18th – Leeds, Fox and Newt
October 19th – London, Helgi’s
October 20th – Sheffield, Lughole (w/ Heavy Sentence, Parish)
October 21st – Newcastle, Lubber Fiend (w/ Hey Colossus)

LUCID SINS “Dancing In The Dark”
Out October 27th on Totem Cat Records

Andreas Jonsson – Vocals, guitars, bass, organ, synthesizer
Ruaraidh Sanachan – Drums, bass, percussion, organ, mellotron, recorder, backing vocals
+++ Album guests: Espen Andersen, Stuart Coleman, Hanna Tuulikki, Alex Ward
+++ Cover art by David V. D’Andrea

Andreas Jonsson & Ruaraidh Sanachan



Lucid Sins, “Jack of Diamonds” official video

Lucid Sins, Cursed! (2021)

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Quarterly Review: Antimatter, Mick’s Jaguar, Sammal, Cassius King, Seven Rivers of Fire, Amon Acid, Iron & Stone, DRÖÖG, Grales, Half Gramme of Soma

Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-winter 2023

We roll on in this new-year-smelling 2023 with day two of the Quarterly Review. Yesterday was pretty easy, but the first day almost always is. Usually by Thursday I’m feeling it. Or the second Tuesday. It varies. In any case, as you know, this QR is a double, which means it’s going to include 100 albums total, written about between yesterday and next Friday. Ton of stuff, and most of it is 2022, but generally later in the year, so at least I’m only a couple months behind your no doubt on-the-ball listening schedule.

Look. I can’t pretend to keep up with a Spotify algorithm, I’m sorry. I do my best, but that’s essentially a program to throw bands in your face (while selling your data and not paying artists). My hope is that being able to offer a bit of context when I throw 100 bands in your face is enough of a difference to help you find something you dig. Some semblance of curation. Maybe I’m flattering myself. I’m pretty sure Spotify can inflate its own ego now too.

Winter 2023 Quarterly Review #11-20:

Antimatter, A Profusion of Thought


Project founder, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mick Moss isn’t through opener “No Contact” — one of the 10 inclusions on Antimatter‘s 54-minute eighth LP, A Profusion of Thought — before he readily demonstrates he can carry the entire album himself if need be. Irish Cuyos offers vocals on the subsequent “Paranoid Carbon” and Liam Edwards plays live drums where applicable, but with a realigned focus on programmed elements, his own voice the constant that surrounds various changes in mood and purpose, and stretches of insularity even on the full-band-sounding “Fools Gold” later on, the self-released outing comes across as more inward than the bulk of 2018’s Black Market Enlightenment, though elements like the acoustic-led approach of “Breaking the Machine,” well-produced flourishes of layering and an almost progressive-goth (proggoth?) atmosphere carry over. “Redshift” balances these sides well, as does fold before it, and “Templates” before that, and “Fools Gold” after, as Antimatter thankfully continues to exist in a place of its own between melancholic heavy, synthesized singer-songwriterism and darker, doom-born-but-not-doom metal, all of which seem to be summarized in the closing salvo of “Entheogen,” “Breaking the Machine” and “Kick the Dog.” Moss is a master of his craft long-established, and a period of isolation has perhaps led to some of the shifting balance here, but neither the album nor its songs are done a disservice by that.

Antimatter on Facebook

Antimatter on Bandcamp


Mick’s Jaguar, Salvation

Mick's Jaguar Salvation

There was a point, maybe 15 years ago now give or take, when at least Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City were awash in semi-retro, jangly-but-rough-edged-to-varying-degrees rock and roll bands. Some sounded like Joan Jett, some sounded like the Ramones, or The Strokes or whoever. On Salvation, their second LP, Mick’s Jaguar bring some chunky Judas Priest riffing, no shortage of attitude, and as the five-piece — they were six on 2018’s Fame and Fortune (review here) — rip into a proto-shredder like “Speed Dealer,” worship Thin Lizzy open string riffing on “Nothing to Lose” or bask in what would be sleaze were it not for the pandemic making any “Skin Contact” at all a serotonin spike, they effectively hop onto either side of the line where rock meets heavy. Also the longest track at 4:54, “Molotov Children” is a ’70s-burly highlight, and “Handshake Deals” is an early-arriving hook that seems to make everything after it all the more welcome. “Man Down” and “Free on the Street” likewise push their choruses toward anthemic barroom sing-alongs, and while I’m not sure those bars haven’t been priced out of the market and turned into unoccupied investment luxury condos by now, rock and roll’s been declared dead in New York at least 100,000 times and it obviously isn’t, so there.

Mick’s Jaguar on Facebook

Tee Pee Records store

Totem Cat Records store


Sammal, Aika laulaa

Sammal Aika laulaa

Long live Finnish weird. More vintage in their mindset than overall presentation, Sammal return via the ever-reliable Svart Records with Aika Laulaa, the follow-up to 2018’s Suuliekki (review here) and their fourth album total, with eight songs and 43 minutes that swap languages lyrically between Finnish, Swedish and English as fluidly as they take progressive retroism and proto-metal to a place of their own that is neither, both, and more. From the languid lead guitar in “Returning Rivers” to the extended side-enders “On Aika Laulaa” with its pastoralized textures and “Katse Vuotaa” with its heavy blues foundation, willfully brash surge, and long fade, the band gracefully skip rocks across aesthetic waters, opening playful and Scandi-folk-derived on “På knivan” before going full fuzz in “Sehr Kryptisch,” turning the three-minute meander of “Jos ei pelaa” into a tonal highlight and resolving the instrumental “(Lamda)” (sorry, the character won’t show up) with a jammy soundscape that at least sounds like it’s filled out by organ if it isn’t. A band who can go wherever they want and just might actually dare to do so, Sammal reinforce the notion of their perpetual growth and Aika laulaa is a win on paper for that almost as much as for the piano notes cutting through the distortion on “Grym maskin.” Almost.

Sammal on Facebook

Svart Records store


Cassius King, Dread the Dawn

Cassius King Dread the Dawn

Former Hades guitarist Dan Lorenzo continues a personal riffy renaissance with Cassius King‘s Dread the Dawn, one of several current outlets among Vessel of Light and Patriarchs in Black. On Dread the Dawn, the New Jersey-based Lorenzo, bassist Jimmy Schulman (ex-Attacker) and drummer Ron Lipnicki (ex-Overkill) — the rhythm section also carried over from Vessel of Light — and vocalist Jason McMaster offer 11 songs and 49 minutes of resoundingly oldschool heavy, Dio Sabbath-doomed rock. Individual tracks vary in intent, but some of the faster moments on “Royal Blooded” or even the galloping opener “Abandon Paradise” remind of Candlemass tonally and even rockers like “How the West Was Won,” “Bad Man Down” and “Back From the Dead” hold an undercurrent of classic metal, never mind the creeper riff of the title-track or its eight-minute companion-piece, the suitably swinging “Doomsday.” Capping with a bonus take on Judas Priest‘s “Troubleshooter,” Dread the Dawn has long since by then gotten its point across but never failed to deliver in either songwriting or performance. They strut, and earn it.

Cassius King on Facebook

MDD Records store


Seven Rivers of Fire, Way of the Pilgrim

Seven Rivers of Fire Way of the Pilgrim

Issued on tape through UK imprint Dub Cthonic, the four-extended-tracker Way of the Pilgrim is the second 2022 full-length from South African solo folk experimentalist Seven Rivers of Fire — aka William Randles — behind September’s Sanctuary (review here) and March’s Star Rise, and its mostly acoustic-based explorations are as immersive and hypnotic as ever as the journey from movement to movement in “They are Calling // Exodus” (11:16) sets up processions through the drone-minded “Awaken // The Passenger” (11:58), “From the Depths // Into the Woods” (12:00) and “Ascend // The Fall” (11:56), Randles continuing to dig into his own particular wavelength and daring to include some chanting and other vocalizations in the opener and “From the Depths // Into the Woods” and the piano-laced finale. Each piece has an aural theme of its own and sets out from there, feeling its way forward with what feels like a genuinely unplanned course. Way of the Pilgrim isn’t going to be for everybody, as with all of Seven Rivers of Fire‘s output, but those who can tune to its frequencies are going to find its resonance continual.

Seven Rivers of Fire on Facebook

Dub Cthonic on Bandcamp


Amon Acid, Cosmogony

Amon Acid Cosmogony

Leeds-based psychedelic doomers Amon Acid channel the grimmer reaches of the cosmic — and a bit of Cathedral in “Hyperion” — on their fifth full-length in four years, second of 2022, Cosmogony. The core duo of guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Sarantis Charvas and bassist/cellist Briony Charvas — joined on this nine-tracker by the singly-named Smith on drums — harness stately space presence and meditative vibes on “Death on the Altar,” the guitar ringing out vague Easternisms while the salvo that started with “Parallel Realm” seems only to plunge further and further into the lysergic unknown. Following the consuming culmination of “Demolition Wave” and the dissipation of the residual swirl there, the band embark on a series of shorter cuts with “Nag Hammandi,” the riff-roller “Mandragoras,” the gloriously-weird-but-still-somehow-accessible “Demon Rider” and the this-is-our-religion “Ethereal Mother” before the massive buildup of “The Purifier” begins, running 11 minutes, which isn’t that much longer than the likes of “Parallel Realm” or “Death on the Altar,” but rounds out the 63-minute procession with due galaxial churn just the same. Plodding and spacious, I can’t help but feel like if Amon Acid had a purposefully-dumber name they’d be more popular, but in the far, far out where they reside, these things matter less when there are dimensions to be warped.

Amon Acid on Facebook

Helter Skelter Productions website


Iron & Stone, Mountains and Waters

Iron and Stone Mountains and Waters

The original plan from Germany’s Iron & Stone was that the four-song Mountains and Waters was going to be the first in a sequence of three EP releases. As it was recorded in Fall 2020 — a time, if you’ll recall, when any number of plans were shot to hell — and only released this past June, I don’t know if the band are still planning to follow it with another two short offerings or not, but for the bass in “Loose the Day” alone, never mind the well-crafted heavy fuzz rock that surrounds on all sides, I’m glad they finally got this one out. Opener “Cosmic Eye” is catchy and comfortable in its tempo, and “Loose the Day” answers with fuzz a-plenty while “Vultures” metes out swing and chug en route to an airy final wash that immediately bleeds into “Unbroken,” which is somewhat more raucous and urgent of riff, but still has room for a break before its and the EP’s final push. Iron & Stone are proven in my mind when it comes to heavy rock songwriting, and they seem to prefer short releases to full-lengths — arguments to be made on either side, as ever — but whether or not it’s the beginning of a series, Mountains and Waters reaffirms the band’s strengths, pushes their craft to the forefront, and celebrates genre even as it inhabits it. There’s nothing more one might ask.

Iron & Stone on Facebook

Iron & Stone on Bandcamp




To be sure, there shades of are discernible influences in DR​Ö​Ö​G‘s self-titled Majestic Mountain Records first long-player, from fellow Swedes Graveyard, Greenleaf, maybe even some of earlier Abramis Brama‘s ’70s vibes, but these are only shades. Thus it is immediately refreshing how unwilling the self-recording core duo of Magnus Vestling and Daniel Engberg are to follow the rules of style, pushing the drums far back into the mix and giving the entire recording a kind of far-off feel, their classic and almost hypnotic, quintessentially Swedish (and in Swedish, lyrically-speaking) heavy blues offered with hints of psychedelic flourish and ready emergence. The way “Stormhatt” seems to rise in the space of its own making. The fuller fuzz of “Blodörn.” The subtle tension of the riff in the second half of “Nattfjärilar.” In songs mostly between six and about eight minutes long, DR​Ö​Ö​G distinguish themselves in tone — bass and hard-strummed guitar out front in “Hamnskiftaren” along with the vocals — and melody, creating an earthy atmosphere that has elements of svensk folkmusik without sounding like a caricature of that or anything else. They’ve got me rewriting my list of 2022’s best debut albums, and already looking forward to how they grow this sound going on from here.

DR​Ö​Ö​G on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store


Grales, Remember the Earth but Never Come Back

Grales Remember the Earth but Never Come Back

Rare is a record so thoroughly screamed that is also so enhanced by its lyrics. Hello, Remember the Earth but Never Come Back. Based in Montreal — home to any number of disaffected sludgy noisemakers — Grales turn apocalyptic dystopian visions into poetry on the likes of “All Things are Temporary,” and anti-capitalist screed on “From Sea to Empty Sea” and “Wretched and Low,” tying together anthropocene planet death with the drive of human greed in concise, sharp, and duly harsh fashion. Laced with noise, sludged to the gills it’s fortunate enough to have so it can breathe in the rising ocean waters, and pointed in its lurch, the five-song/43-minute outing takes the directionless fuckall of so many practitioners of its genre and sets itself apart by knowing and naming exactly what it’s mad about. It’s mad about wage theft, climate change, the hopelessness that surrounds most while a miserly few continue to rape and pillage what should belong to everybody. The question asked in “Agony” answers itself: “What is the world without our misery? We’ll never know.” With this perspective in mind and a hint of melody in the finale “Sic Transit Mundus,” Grales offer a two-sided tape through From the Urn Records that is gripping in its onslaught and stirring despite its outward misanthropy. It’s not that they don’t care; it’s that they want you to pick up a molotov cocktail and toss it at your nearest corporate headquarters. Call it relatable.

Grales on Facebook

From the Urn Records on Bandcamp


Half Gramme of Soma, Slip Through the Cracks

half gramme of soma slip through the cracks 1

Energetic in its delivery and semi-progressive in its intentions, Half Gramme of Soma‘s second album, Slip Through the Cracks, arrives with the backing of Sound of Liberation Records, the label wing of one of Europe’s lead booking agencies for heavy rock. Not a minor endorsement, but it’s plain to hear in the eight-song/42-minute course the individualism and solidified craft that prompted the pickup: Half Gramme of Soma know what they’re doing, period. Working with producer George Leodis (1000mods, Godsleep, Last Rizla, etc.) in their native Athens, they’ve honed a sound that reaches deeper than the deceptively short runtimes of tracks like “Voyager” and “Sirens” or “Wounds” might lead you to believe, and the blend of patience and intensity on finale-and-longest-song “22:22” (actually 7:36) highlights their potential in both its languid overarching groove and the later guitar solos that cut through it en route to that long fade, without sacrificing the present for the sake of the future. That is, whatever Half Gramme of Soma might do on their third record, Slip Through the Cracks shouldn’t. Even in fest-ready riffers “High Heels” and “Mind Game,” they bleed personality and purpose.

Half Gramme of Soma on Facebook

Sound of Liberation Records store


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Mick’s Jaguar Announce Salvation Coming Dec. 2; Premiere “Man Down”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

mick's jaguar

Find Mick’s Jaguar nestled into the joint between the moment when classic heavy rock became punk. No, they’re not alone in there, but they’ve got their own little spot for sure. Decent spread, actually.

The New York (where?) based five-piece offer Salvation on Dec. 2 through Tee Pee Records and Totem Cat Records as their follow-up to 2018’s Fame and Fortune (review here), and in cuts like “Man Down” (which is premiering below) and “Free on the Street,” “Nothing to Lose” and the somehow-proto-metal “Hell’s Gate,” they put so much love of classic styles, attitude and warmth that it’s difficult not to smile while listening. Nah, I don’t think they really believe it’s 1974, or even 1975, and I like that they’re not trying to pretend otherwise. They’re a rock band. With Salvation, they’re a rock band with a niche within a niche, able to remind of many while staying themselves most of all.

They’re in and gone in 32 minutes, strutting all the while. Good record. I have to think there’s some kid out there whose life that channel-spanning dual-guitar solo in “Nothing to Lose” could change for the better, never mind the chanting sing-along that follows.

Enjoy the track. Album art and PR wire info after that:

Mick's Jaguar Salvation

Hard Rockin’ NYC Reprobates MICK’S JAGUAR Make a Riotous Return | Stream New Single ‘MAN DOWN’

Pre-save/order link – https://orcd.co/micks_jaguar

Born in the wild, alive to stalk death, and destined to make noise through the destruction of shit rock, Mick’s Jaguar is a hard rock force to behold.

Initially formed in Brooklyn many moons ago, as a one-off Stones’ covers band for an impromptu New Year’s Eve party, the NYC collective is the bastard son of an unholy union between Judas Priest and Guns N’ Roses.

Their debut album – 2018’s Fame and Fortune – received praise from both American and British press alike, with Classic Rock Magazine noting that the only way to describe Mick’s Jaguar is, “If Ace Frehley was in Thin Lizzy and it was the summer of 1977… and they were all really into the Sex Pistols… and AC/DC…”

Close enough.

Since 2018, the band has toured nationwide, making appearances at the inaugural Psycho Smokeout in Los Angeles and Desertfest New York, as well as opening for legendary punk and hard rock acts like Airborne, The Adicts, and Turbonegro’s late, great Hank von Hell.

After losing their original bassist amidst the dense jungle boughs of Thailand, Mick’s Jaguar have since enlisted close friends Jack Ridley (Drowners) and Aaron Roche (Wye Oak, Anhoni, Tōth) to record another round of ten, bar fighting rock tracks at Brooklyn’s Figure 8 Recording with engineer Philip Weinrobe (Adrianne Lenker, Alanis Morissette). The result? Their killer new record, Salvation, which once again finds the band living too late, bound for hell and quite possibly, the last great rock and roll band on the planet.

“Like every band says at every show these days, it feels incredible to be back,” says vocalist John Martin. “And after the last three years of bullshit, this is the music you need to hear. Having both Tee Pee and Totem Cat in our corner is huge. We’re stoked to see there’s a new wave of rock bands coming up that are making music for rock fans like us.”

Salvation by Mick’s Jaguar is released 2nd December on Tee Pee Records/Totem Cat and can be pre-ordered here: https://orcd.co/micks_jaguar

10/6 – Providence – TBD w. Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, Coma Hands
10/7 – Boston – Zuzu at The Middle East w. Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, Baabes

1. Skin Contact
2. Handshake Deals
3. Man Down
4. Free on the Street
5. Molotov Children
6. Speed Dealer
7. Nothing to Lose
8. 5am Somewhere
9. Hell’s Gate
10. Georgian Pine

Sam Cooper – Drums
Alex Forbes – Guitar
Grace Hollaender – Guitar, Vocals
John Martin – Vocals
Don Chino – Guitar




Mick’s Jaguar, Fame and Fortune (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: Earthride, Earthride EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 9th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

The outpouring of love for Dave “Sherm” Sherman — centered around but not at all limited to his home scene in Frederick, Maryland — that’s been happening since his death earlier this week has been beautiful to see. Yesterday and the day before, people from all over have been compelled to tell their own Sherm stories, and some of them have been pretty good. The members of a grieving community comforting each other and themselves. It’s the most human of things. Dave Sherman was the beating heart of Maryland doom. I’ve said that before. I still believe it.

I have to imagine that when Sherman’s work is remembered, the 2000 self-titled EP from Earthride will be on plenty of players of one sort or another. Self-released under the banner of Earth Brain Records — it would be reissued as a 10″ through Land o’ Smiles in 2007 and on remastered CD through Totem Cat in 2012 — and recorded by Chris Kozlowski (R.I.P. 2021) at the Polar Bear Layer in Middletown, MD, the first Earthride release happened while Sherman was still playing bass in Spirit Caravan. Joining the former Wretched frontman in the new band (who had gotten together a few years earlier in 1997, concurrent to Shine’s demos) at the time were guitarist Kyle Van Steinburg, bassist Joe Ruthvin and drummer Eric Little, and the band’s purpose and mission statement was put front and center in the opening, eponymous “Earthride.” Say the lines with me:

“So loud/So alive/All heavy/The earthride.”

That song, first of the four on the 23-minute EP, is the perfect introduction to the band. Two basic riffs, a fast one earthride self titled reissue coverand a slow one, play off each other and cycle through twice before a switch to an extended bridge/solo with an even more choice groove before doubling back. The lyrics are about riding a motorcycle. It’s simple enough to be punk, and in its pulse you can hear The Obsessed, Pentagram, Motörhead, early C.O.C., and of course Black Sabbath — the part under Van Steinburg’s solo is basically “War Pigs” — but the impression is immediately individual owing to Sherman’s gritty, throaty voice and the warm density of the tones surrounding. Earthride would essentially build off this formula for the rest of their tenure — that’s a gross simplification, of course, but on 2002’s Taming of the Demons, 2005’s Vampire Circus (discussed here) and 2010’s Something Wicked (review here), the band would make “Earthride” definitive in that it defined the direction of who they were.

And in the case of Earthride as relates to the many, many other projects in which Sherman was involved in either a creative, supporting or guesting capacity, this was his band. Not Wino’s, not anyone else’s. Over time, even more than his work in Spirit Caravan, the prior Wretched, the later Weed is Weed, King Valley, Galactic Cross, his collaborations with Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, Hank Williams III and more players from the Maryland doom underground than I have space to name, Earthride became an extension of Sherman’s larger-than-life persona, and it could be hard to tell where the band ended and he began. This self-titled is the genesis of that. I don’t think it’s Earthride’s best work — take your pick between the albums; there are arguments to be made in favor of all three — but it represents a special moment in what was a special life that ended too soon.

“Earthride,” “Black,” the instrumental “Enter Zacfreyalz” and the longer closer “Weak End,” with its anti-suicide lyric, are prescient of heavy music’s celebration of itself. To listen to the riff and playfully cultish vocals of “Black,” the conversation happening between classic doom and the heavy rock taking shape at the time feels relevant today in no small part because it’s so self-aware. Earthride knew where they were coming from, what their music was intended to honor in terms of style. Doom for doomers. Heavy for heavy. If this showed up on Bandcamp these 22 years later as a new release, it’d probably do better than it did the first time around.

“Black” holds to a middle tempo but swells in volume behind its two guitar solos. In it and the slower, low-endier “Enter Zacfreyalz” — there’s an extra layer there of something; is it bass? keys? guitar? — the influence of Sherman’s work alongside Scott “Wino” Weinrich in Spirit Caravan is present and accounted for, and that association would likewise continue to define Earthride’s work even as the band came further into its own. Van Steinburg’s bluesy solo in “Black” likewise presages that process, which seemed to most manifest in Something Wicked, but the shuffle and nod of “Enter Zacfreyalz” speak to Earthride’s standing apart from Sherman’s then-concurrent outfit as well, and the return of tempo changes between the verses and chorus in “Weak End,” the sneering delivery of “Do you think I care” as the hook begins, works once more to establish patterns that the band would have for the rest of Sherman’s life. Again, I’m not saying this is the best thing Earthride ever did — though I’ve no doubt some will say it is, and I can’t imagine why on earth I’d fight the issue — but as a starting point for listeners it’s basically the band taking you to school and telling you who they are.

JB Matson — also of Maryland Doom Fest, Outside Truth, War Injun, Knoxxville, the newer band Bloodshot (whose record is a ripper, by the way) — has begun to put together a benefit for Sherman’s family in the wake of his passing. This is par for the course down there; Maryland doom takes care of its own. No lineup has been announced for the Nov. 12 show, but it’s hard to imagine anyone playing it who wouldn’t absolutely leave their hearts on the stage, and invariably that’s the best tribute to Sherman one could make. Info on that show is here and when the lineup is revealed I’ll make a separate post for it: https://www.facebook.com/events/1019802608697365

Even if Sherman or his music never touched your life — difficult as it is to imagine, it wouldn’t have been possible for him to meet everyone — if it was before your time, after, or you just never cared, at the very least, this was someone whose life was defined in no small part by his love of music and making music. That is a significant loss in itself, before you even get to the actual work, which might be the best way to remember him.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

School started this week. I damn near napped.

It was not the summer we’d planned. It became the Summer of Pivot after The Pecan got the boot from camp after a whopping three days, but he and I spent a lot, a lot, a lot of time together, and I don’t regret that, even as I watch some of my own unfortunate personality traits — my exasperation, my givenness to frustration and my anxiety, to be specific — manifest in his personality. He’s here now, in the bathtub, talking about the two lines we had to wait on to take the train at the Bronx Zoo… like, two years ago. These are the kinds of things we talk about. Moments ago it was why it would be a bad idea to run the propellers of his remote control speedboat on his penis. Real life.

But the upwards of three hours in a day between the bus and his actual school day are nice to have on my end, and he seems to appreciate being around other kids again, which is more important, so school it is. He’ll be five next month. Days drag, years sprint. He’s potty trained. That was my accomplishment this summer. I also went to Freak Valley. That was big.

Speaking of big, I saw Rammstein at Giants Stadium this week and that was a trip. I missed them when they came through in 2010 and probably wouldn’t have gone this time either, but my sister has Jets tickets and so got a discount. She, my mother and I went. What a blast. I didn’t review it but it was a pretty incredible event. The lights, the fire, the fireworks, etc., but also the songs that have been stuck in my head all week: “Engel,” “Ich Will,” “Du Hast,” “Sonne,” the newer “Deutschland,” “Zeit,” and so on. Pretty solid performance and stage presence to go with all that spectacle. I’ll remember it fondly as I remember seeing them in 2001 at Hammerstein Ballroom some 21 years ago.

That and Stöner back to back meant two nights in a row of not-festival shows for the first time in years, but the latter being so close to my house made that more doable and it apparently wasn’t so much that I’m not going to go see King Buffalo tonight in Connecticut, so there you go.

Review of that on Monday, and then next week is full. I think the Curse the Son reissue stream is in there somewhere, though I’m not 100 percent sure off the top of my head. There’s other stuff. I wanted to review the Tau record ahead of its release. Not gonna happen. I doubt anyone was holding their breath, but still, I was hoping to get that done. So it goes.

Quarterly Review starts week after next. Two weeks, 100 releases again. After that, my head starts shifting into year-end mode for real.

I have some more writing to do today, so I’m going to leave it there. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, watch your head, all that stuff. It’s getting to be a little cooler here during the day. I hope you’re feeling a bit of relief from the heat as well where you are. And please remember even at your lowest that you have value and you are loved and your life touches other lives.

Thanks for reading.

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