Freedom Hawk Announce West Coast Tour; Working on Next Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

freedom hawk

Virginia’s Freedom Hawk have begun writing songs for their next record, which they’ll issue through Ripple Music maybe late this Fall — unless writing takes like another week and they’re done, then record immediately — if not in 2021. Still, progress is progress, and they’re continuing to tour in support of fifth album, 2018’s Beast Remains (review here), which is never bad news to see. Plus they say they’re trying out new material on the road, so that tells you at least a couple songs have been put together enough for a stage.

I’ll take it either way, but there is a part of me that feels kind of bad for the fact that I basically expect a Freedom Hawk album every year. I have z-e-r-o reason to do so, and yet, I do. This is a band that puts marked care into the songs they write, and for whom songwriting is a clear priority, and still I’m sitting over here on my couch like, “What? You guys can’t just plug in, bang out 38 minutes of catchy-as-flu high-grade riffery and tour? Come on!” Two or three years between LPs for anyone is reasonable. For some reason, it just always feels like forever going from one Freedom Hawk LP to another.

Again, though, whenever it shows up, it’ll be welcome. You like rock and roll? Them too. You should party.

Tour dates and whatnot:

freedom hawk west coast 2020

Freedom Hawk To Hit The West Coast In March!

Virginia’s, Freedom Hawk will be rolling through the US in March with their latest record Beast Remains (Ripple Music, 2018) in tow. Their unique brand of energetic dune rock will elevate your mind and body, through heavy riffs, rolling grooves, and soulful psychedelic melodies wrapped in metal harmonies! Grab a ticket to take a heavy transcendent trip with the warm sun melting your face while cruising with the top down to your favorite beach party on the sand dunes. Come rawk out with your hawk out!

Tickets available @: https://bnds.us/i9tx5f

The band will be playing tracks from their latest album Beast Remains and classics from their previous decade of material with possibly a few new tracks from their forthcoming Ripple release sprinkled in. Look out for a new album in 2020 and more live dates as they continue to expand their music and their reach to fans around the world!

The band says of the new material “We are really excited about the new tunes coming together. The material seems to capitalize on our previous work but really expands into newer territory of tasty bluesy melodies, driving harmonies, and killer song structures that have hooks for days…. We feel like this is our best stuff to date. We can’t wait for people to hear it!”

~Peace&Rawk~

Spring US Tour Dates booked by the new heavy music division of AMG featuring many Ripple Music artists:
March 6 – Denver, CO – Streets of London
March 7 – Salt Lake City, UT – Bottoms Up
March 8 – Boise, ID – The Shredder
March 9 – Seattle, WA – Funhouse
March 10 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
March 11 – Eureka, CA – Siren’s Song
March 12 – Santa Cruz, CA – Urbani Cellar
March 13 – Los Angeles, CA – Hi Hat
March 14 – San Diego, CA – Til Two Club
March 15 – Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
March 17 – San Antonio, TX – Faust
March 18 – Dallas/Fort Worth, TX – Division Brewing
March 19 – Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room
March 20 – Jacksonville, FL – Archetype
March 21 – Raleigh, NC – Slims Downtown

https://www.facebook.com/freedomhawkmusic/
https://freedomhawk.bandcamp.com
http://www.freedomhawk.net/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Freedom Hawk, “Brutal Winds” official video

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Sibyl Sign to DHU Records; The Magic Isn’t Real Vinyl Coming Soon

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

sibyl

I was put onto doomly four-piece Sibyl by a trustworthy source who’d seen them and would probably prefer to remain unnamed, and their 2019 demo/EP — fine line these days — hit the spot accordingly. That four-songer is called The Magic Isn’t Real (review here) and DHU Records has newly picked it up for a fresh look on vinyl due out this Spring, give or take. The band, meanwhile, have already put out a follow-up of sorts in the form of two new songs, “Rottweiler Smile” and “Love/Violence,” included on an issued-just-this-month split tape with fellow Richmond, Virginia, residents Mister Earthbound, out through Deckhead Records in an edition of 100 copies.

Whether or not DHU will do anything with those tracks, I’ve no idea, but if you listen to The Magic Isn’t Real and decide you’d like to dig further, the opportunity exists. Ah hell why don’t I just go ahead and include that Bandcamp player too, save you the trouble? They’ve both below.

From the PR wire:

sibyl the magic isn't real

New signing to DHU Records: SIBYL

DHU Records is excited to announce the signing of Richmond, VA Cult Rockers SIBYL!

Initially released in February of 2019, The Magic Isn’t Real became an increasingly addictive listen throughout the year and eventually could not deny it’s ‘magical’ effect. Heavy, Moody and Dark, The Magic Isn’t Real is one damn fine Psychedelic Fuzzed Out Doom trip that is aching to be experienced!

Honest and psychedelic in the truest sense of the word, Richmond, Virginia quartet Sibyl defies convention at every turn. Violet Sotomayor’s lyrics speak not of fictional tales of horror but of the very real demons of psychological trauma. An acceptance of past trauma while not necessarily a lament, the words of the Sibyl show one who stares forward clear eyed and with a mission to heal the psyche and break the chains that hold us back.

Tribal drums and a wall of crushing fuzz are punctuated by psychedelic guitar leads that cut the psyche like an eldritch wind. The Sibyl sound combines grungy desert rock grooves, psychedelic vibes, and stoner/doom riffs with undeniable pop sensibilities. Sibyl aims to write a new chapter into the tale that began the day the first blues man made his way down to the crossroads with his guitar under his arm and a dream in his soul. They do not aim or claim to be the heaviest band in the scene, but their live performance will show you that they refuse to hold anything back either.

With concise songwriting and more riffs than you can count, Sibyl stands out from the crowd as a raucous, riotous bacchanal in comparison to the contemporary stoner/doom bands’ somber ritual. With an explosive live show that will have more than just your head banging, and has been gaining attention worldwide. Currently playing shows in Richmond and touring up the east coast, Sibyl intends to bring their unique experience to all corners of the globe. Like a party at a funeral, Sibyl speaks to the duality of life and death and the cycles of nature that exist when one is granted a glimpse beyond the veil. Sibyl is enlightenment through rock and roll.

“No gods or devils exist except the ones inside your head. The Magick isn’t real unless you choose to believe it is.”

DHU Records will release The Magic Isn’t Real (DHU047) on Limited Edition vinyl around Spring 2020

More info & details to follow…

Tracklist:
Side A
A1. Blood Moon
A2. Pendulums

Side B
B1. Sexpionage
B2. Spinning Webs

SIBYL
Violet – vocals
Chris – guitar
Mike – bass
Ben – drums

http://www.facebook.com/sibylrva
http://instagram.com/sibylrva
https://sibylrva.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real (2019)

Sibyl & Mister Earthbound, Hypnotic Rhythm (2020

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Omen Stones Announce First Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Omen stones

Want to know something crucial about Omen Stones? At least as far as the sound on the Richmond, Virginia, three-piece’s 2019 self-titled, self-released debut (review here) is concerned, just have a look at their logo. Like the letters themselves, there’s just some aspect of Omen Stones‘ sound that’s a little bit twisted, a little bit working toward something darker and more sinister. You can hear it in the vocal sneer of guitarist Tommy Hamilton, also known for his work in filth-caked riffers Druglord, and in the tones that surround as the drums of Erik Larson (also Backwoods PaybackAvail, ex-ATP, etc.) punch through in the rush of “Purity Jones.” There’s a track on the record called “Fresh Hell.” That about sums it up.

But there isn’t the mire one might expect from what Hamilton brought to Druglord, and Omen Stones are a more intense band. With Ed Fierro (also Tel) on bass, there’s venom if not Venom in their veins and not that they don’t sleek out a rolling groove every now and then, as in “Secrete,” but there’s an undercurrent of threat that never seems to be far from the their attention. As they look to head out on their first tour dates beginning Jan. 31, hitting spots in North Carolina, Indianapolis, Kentucky, Ohio, Delaware, Maryland and indeed Virginia, I’m wondering what the 10-day jaunt might lead to. More tours? New songs? It’s their first tour, and where I had the info I’ve included with whom they’ll be doing the shows. There are some good ones in there. Baltimore looks like a killer night.

Here are the dates, followed by the self-titled album stream from Bandcamp:

omen stones tour

Omen Stones live:
01/31 Raleigh NC Slims w/ Crystal Spiders, Moryo
02/01 Asheville NC Odditorium
02/02 Indianapolis IN State Street Pub w/ Lavaborne, Drooler
02/03 Louisville KY Highlands Taproom w/ Problem with Dragons
02/04 Cincinnati OH Northside Yacht Club
02/05 Columbus OH Dirty Dungarees w/ Deprecator, False Teeth
02/06 Kent OH The Dome w/ Goosed, Ghost:Hello
02/07 Wilmington DE 1984 Arcade Bar
02/08 Baltimore MD Rituals Bar & Venue w/ Alms, Cavern, Almost Honest
02/09 Richmond VA Fuzzy Cactus w/ Hoboknife, Deathcrown

Omen Stones is:
Ed Fierro – bass
Tommy Hamilton – guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – drums

https://www.facebook.com/OmenStonesVA/
https://omenstones.bandcamp.com/

Omen Stones, Omen Stones (2019)

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Windhand Announce Headlining Shows on East and West Coasts

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

Windhand (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Windhand touring is continually a good thing. Windhand getting some of their stolen gear back is even better. Windhand‘s recent posting of a bunch of demos to help raise funds to cover the rest of their losses from said robbery, well that’s just a win for all parties involved. They’re not at all to the point yet where one would expect them to drop a follow-up to 2018’s Eternal Return (review here) — so they probably will; ha — but anything that keeps momentum on their side, especially after the above-noted setback, is good. They’ll play shows with Relapse labelmates Devil Master in the Northeast and then head out toward the Pacific with Serial Hawk to make a stop at Northwest Terror Fest. Bing bang boom, as clownish caricatures of stereotypes might say in my beloved Garden State. It’s a Windhand show. Even better that they’re headlining, the fest notwithstanding. One way or the other, it’s probably a better night than what you might otherwise have planned.

Also the poster’s awesome. Here it is from the PR wire:

windhand tour poster

WINDHAND: Announce 2020 US Headline Tour Dates

WINDHAND have announced 2020 tour dates beginning in March with labelmates DEVIL MASTER. Tickets are on sale Friday, January 10th at 10 AM local time. All confirmed tour dates are available below. Following the tour, WINDHAND will also make appearances in May/June around Northwest Terror Fest.

Additionally, WINDHAND recently shared unreleased demo & rarity tracks on Bandcamp throughout the band’s discography. The five album collection spans from the band’s full-lengths Soma, Grief’s Infernal Flower, Eternal Return, plus miscellaneous demos, alternative mixes & their Live at WFMU session on 6.8.13. All proceeds for the albums will help WINDHAND post-theft of their instruments and gear earlier in the Fall.

All five albums are available at https://windhand.bandcamp.com/

WINDHAND TOUR DATES:

— Mar 18-21 w/ Devil Master —

Mar 18 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony
Mar 19 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
Mar 20 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Mar 21 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus

— May 29 – June 04 w/ Serial Hawk —

May 28 Seattle, WA @ Northwest Terror Fest
May 29 Vancouver, BC @ The Venue
May 31 Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
Jun 01 Los Angeles, CA @ Jewels Catch One
Jun 02 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Jun 03 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Jun 04 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater

Aug 15-16 Las Vegas, NV Psycho Las Vegas

Sep 03-06 Cookeville, TN Muddy Roots Festival

A full collection of WINDHAND music videos are available HERE.

https://www.facebook.com/WindhandVA/
https://www.instagram.com/windhand/
http://windhandva.bandcamp.com/
http://store.relapse.com/

Windhand, Miscellaneous Demos & Alternate Mixes (2019)

Windhand, Live at WFMU 6.8.2013 (2019)

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Windhand Post Demos for Studio Albums & WFMU Live Set

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

If you didn’t know, Windhand were robbed a bit ago. It was horseshit. Don’t get me wrong — it’s always horseshit. If you’re someone thinking about robbing a touring band and wondering when the right time to do so is, just go play in traffic instead. But a band like Windhand, who’ve been at it for the better part of 10 years now and who’ve only ever kicked ass on stage and off — not that it would be okay to steal from them if they sucked, but you know what I mean — it of course seemed to hit that much harder when it happened. Fundraisers were launched, social media sympathy was proffered in great abundance, and then, as invariably happens in any news cycle, it was on to the next thing.

Well, when you get robbed, it doesn’t just suck for five minutes. It continues to suck. Even for people who get their stuff back, it can continue to suck. To help with ongoing financial concerns, gear and whatnot, Windhand have posted demos for three of their studio LPs — the demo for the first album was already up — and a collection of miscellaneous demos and alternative/rough mixes, and a live session recorded at my beloved Garden State’s own beloved weirdo freeform radio station WFMU in 2013.

The money, obviously, go to Windhand, who, again obviously, need it. So help out and hear some cool shit for the effort.

And don’t fucking rob bands. Ever:

WINDHAND (photo by Joey Wharton)

WINDHAND share unreleased demo & rarity tracks on Bandcamp throughout the band’s discography. The five-album collection spans from the band’s full-lengths Soma, Grief’s Infernal Flower, Eternal Return, plus miscellaneous demos, alternative mixes & their Live at WFMU session on 6.8.13. All proceeds for the albums will help WINDHAND post-theft of their instruments and gear earlier in the Fall.

Fresh off their heels from their North American tour with RUSSIAN CIRCLES, WINDHAND have announced new dates in 2020 as part of the Psycho Las Vegas, Northwest Terror Fest, and Muddy Roots Festivals. More tour updates will be available at the WINDHAND Facebook Page.

All five albums are available at https://windhand.bandcamp.com/

A full collection of WINDHAND music videos are available HERE.

https://www.facebook.com/WindhandVA/
https://www.instagram.com/windhand/
http://windhandva.bandcamp.com/
http://store.relapse.com/

Windhand, Miscellaneous Demos & Alternate Mixes (2019)

Windhand, Live at WFMU 6.8.2013 (2019)

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The Osedax to Release Meridians Jan. 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the osedax

You get about three minutes into the second track before The Osedax break out the blastbeats, and that’s fine. By then the Virginian three-piece have churned their way through the post-metallic opener “Offen” and soon enough they’ll roll the track in question, the 14-minute “Beacon/Ox Eye,” to a suitably massive and thoughtful conclusion. They’re no strangers to longform work, as their 2015 outing, Titans Lament also showcased, but they wear the atmospherics well on the Meridians, which is their forthcoming third long-player, due out in January like the headline says.

There are a total of four cuts on the album, with “Beacon/Ox Eye” followed by the drone-first-then-all-the-pummel-followed-by-an-even-more-horrifying-moment-of-clarity “White Horse/Tempest” and the concluding “Ratlines,” which at a mere 7:22 is the only song under 11 minutes long and comprised totally of Twin Peaks-soundtrack-esque minimalist ambience, as it would almost have to be. I’ll take it, particularly after the sundry furies and feedback that lead up to its arrival.

The PR wire has release details and links. No audio yet, but it’s worth noting that The Osedax issued their debut album in 2010. The second record, as noted, followed in 2015. A third in 2020 puts them on an every-half-decade pace. If it’s not until 2025 that they do a fourth, at least they’ve given their listeners plenty to chew on in the prospective interim.

Cover art and whatnot:

The Osedax Meridians

The Osedax – Meridians

Release: 17 January 2020

Virginia is a hotspot for bands moving within sludgy circles, but one band who excel within the newer class are The Osedax. Named after a bone-burrowing deep sea worm, their music is similarly infectious as it worms its way into your system. Now on their third major release, Meridians, the group push their blend of atmospheric sludge/doom/post-metal to new heights, and the results are devastatingly effective.

Each track takes its sweet time to warm up, but once the drums kick it’s worth the wait. The Osedax perfectly capture the deep-water experience in all its forms, whether floating in a wash of guitar static, trudging through muddy riffs and melancholic synths, or – the pièce de résistance – when the band kick “Beacon / Ox Eye” and “White Horse / Tempest” in the guts with frantic blast beats akin to black metal like Downfall of Gaia. In addition, slimming down to a trio has had no ill effect on the band’s potency – the shared vocals flow between harrowing yells à la Neurosis and creature-like shrieks. The overall effect is cavernous, a sound that envelops and simultaneously destroys eardrums.

If you weren’t already familiar via Delayed Response or Titans Lament, then Meridians should be mandatory listening for fans of the above-mentioned genres, and who like floating at the bottom of the ocean.

Tracklisting:
1. Offen
2. Beacon/Ox Eye
3. White Horse / Tempest
3. Ratlines

The Osedax are:
Mike Horn (Bass/Vocals/Synth) – ex Psyopus / Mod Flanders Conspiracy
Scott Coldwell (Guitar/Vocals) – ex Mod Flanders Conspiracy
Kevin Grevey (Drums/Percussion) – Gloom

https://facebook.com/theosedax
https://theosedax.bandcamp.com/

The Osedax, Titans Lament (2015)

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Friday Full-Length: Valkyrie, Valkyrie

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Valkyrie came up around the same time as a kind of underground next-generation local boom in the Virginia/Maryland scene. Bands like Ol’ ScratchVOG (with whom Valkyrie released a split in 2005), Admiral BrowningLord, and a host of others seemed to solidify if not simultaneously then at least concurrently, and though their sounds varied from extreme sludge and thrash to instrumental progressive heavy rock to Valkyrie‘s earthy take on neo-classic dual guitar-ism, there was the sort of camaraderie between them that can only emerge when it’s a group of bands who’ve played shows basically for each other. That entire scene was and remains undervalued, and though most of those bands are gone and/or morphed into other acts like FoehammerSpiral GraveEarthling, the last incarnation of Akris, etc., and Valkyrie were put on the proverbial backburner for years following their second album, Man of Two Visions (discussed here), being picked up by MeteorCity in 2010 after its initial release in 2008 on Noble Origins (Kreation Records also put it out on vinyl in 2009), the quality of their 2006 self-titled still remains in its unpretentious melodies, proto-progressive groove and the weighted tones of its brotherly team of guitarist/vocalists, Jake and Pete Adams.

It’s arguable that among their cohort, Valkyrie had the most potential. Their sound was different from everyone else’s, and as heavy rock consciousness was filled with two-guitar antics and fleet rhythmic turns thanks to the ascent of MastodonValkyrie came across as not-uninformed of that, but able to be a tie between that style, heavy Southern rock, the classic doom of Pentagram, and even a touch of Spirit Caravan — whose drummer Gary Isom, would join them at some point around the second record. They were an immediate standout, in other words, and the material on Valkyrie‘s Valkyrie — released by Twin Earth after that VOG split and a couple of demos — was much the same, with Jake and Pete effectively trading vocals atop winding riffs and a welcoming sense of overarching groove to the bass of Nick Crabill and Nic McInturff‘s drumming. At eight tracks and 40 minutes, the release feels prescient of the vinyl boom to come, and though it’s fair to call its Chris Kozlowski production organic, it’s still rich enough to properly convey the surge of energy with the solo in finale “Lost in the Darkness,” which is perhaps the most singularly Wino-derived moment as it moves back into its The Obsessed-style central riff heading toward the midpoint of the song.

valkyrie self titledOf course, that’s hardly the first uptempo kick on Valkyrie. Beginning with “Withered Tree” at the outset, the four-piece construct a heavy rolling fluidity that allows for as much nuance as is warranted without taking away from impact at the most basic level. Witness the stop and subsequent intertwining of guitars in the second half of the opener. There’s a gracefulness to the execution of that build that undercuts the idea of the self-titled being the band’s first record — no doubt the fact that the guitarists were brothers helped — and as they moved through the hazier riffs of “Sunlight Shines” and the full-on thrust of pace that emerges there, it becomes clear just how central to the proceedings the musical conversation between the Adams brothers truly is. Not to take away from Crabill or McInturff in the rhythm section — though both would be gone by the time the follow-up came along — but Valkyrie were always a guitar-minded outfit, and they earned that through their stage presence and technique alike, tapping into epic heavy rock elements on “Endless Crusade” ahead of the acoustic interlude “Wolf Hollow” and the push into the second half of the tracklisting via “Secrets of the Mind.”

The hooky fuzz there seems to straighten out some of the more winding aspects of earlier cuts, but in truth it’s no less complex than anything before, and much the same applies to “Heralds of the Dawn,” which follows. Perhaps most of all the songs on Valkyrie feels made for the stage. Ready to dominate at Krug’s Place in Frederick or some other Chesapeake-region outlet on a bill maybe with Earthride and cheap beer spilled as much on the floor as down the gullets of patrons who somehow are drunk anyway. On such a guitar-centric record, it might be Jake Adams‘ best vocal performance, and it successfully blends the progressive and proto-metal aspects of the earlier songs with a fuller-sounding distorted roll all the while executing an efficient structure. If you want an example of the potential at root in their sound, that’s where you go. They follow it with longest cut “Eternally There,” which brings in Internal Void‘s Kelly Carmichael for a guest solo — I love the thought at the Adams brothers listened to anything on this record and were like, “You know, I think this could use another guitar”; it’s like the most guitarist thought ever — and prefaces the galloping last build in “Lost in the Darkness” with its own energetic thrust.

They end, as noted, by riding off at top speed into the sunset, which is a fair enough way to go out and certainly earned by the prior proceedings. I’ve always thought of Man of Two Visions as a superior record in that it took a lot of what Valkyrie established as their sound and pushed it forward, opened up the production some and further integrated the natural vibe into the songwriting, but going back and revisiting the self-titled is a refresher of how strong this band was at the outset. No mystery as to “what happened” to them. Jake Adams started a family and in 2008 Pete joined Baroness, where he’d remain until 2017. He currently plays in Samhain and Razors in the Night. In the meantime, Valkyrie released a third LP, Shadows (review here), through Relapse in 2015 and have done periodic shows and fest appearances to support it, remaining underrated all the while.

That release came as a surprise but was certainly welcome, and whatever, whenever Valkyrie do next, if anything, it’ll be much the same. They may not have gotten in the last 15-plus years the recognition they’ve deserved, but the sonic conversation happening between the Adamses remains something special and any outlet it finds is worth hearing.

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

The Pecan turns two today. Toddlerian. Human Hurricane. “Daddy is not for kicking.” “We don’t bite.” “We don’t hit.” “If you hit me again, I’m leaving. Okay, good night. I love you. See you in the morning.”

Two years ago, I watched as, after, what, 38? hours of labor they pulled him out of my wife’s belly in an emergency C-section. Her guts, blue, on a table that I wasn’t supposed to see but saw anyway before they stuffed them back into her and closed her up with all the barbarity of human medicine at its most basic. The kind of thing the future will judge us for, provided, you know, a future.

While we’re here: Sorry about that, Pecan.

But anyway, Duder is two. And awake. And probably with a dirty diaper from the sound of him, so yeah, I better head upstairs and get the day started. It’s 6AM. Yesterday, his nap got cut short by like an hour I think because my wife and I used the bathroom one after the other and the sound of the running water was enough to wake him — he has a white noise machine but turns it off after we leave him and it plugs in so we can’t move it out of his reach; it’s a whole fucking complicated thing — and he was miserable, but eventually I gave him some of the wheat crackers he likes and he chilled out. But that was my afternoon, pretty much. I got to finish the posts for today, this one aside, and read half a section of a chapter of the Star Trek book I’m working through, and that was it. Back to daddy-time.

I’d say something about pretending to have a real life, but I think probably the proper thing to do is consider daddy-time as real life. There are arguments to be made on either side of that, I guess, and various cruel narratives that play out in my head on any given day as I watch the minutes slowly tick by until I can sit with The Patient Mrs., have dinner, watch the end of News Hour or more Trek and maybe chat for a minute over dessert before I complete the futz ritual — prepare coffee for the morning, etc. — pop half a container of sugar-free Rolaids and go to bed somewhere around 8-8:30, depending on how miserably tired I am. Real life. Maybe I’ll go back to bed this morning.

Yeah.

This post is long enough anyway. I’m gonna go grab him, change him, deliver him to my wife for morning nursing, saying happy birthday and properly doting in special you’re-gonna-have-ice-cream-today fashion, then crash out for a little bit. I’ll put up another post first though, because if I don’t, I won’t sleep. It’s like that.

How about those Astros though, huh?

Next week? I don’t know. It’s Halloween, but I don’t much care except it means the holidays are encroaching and I frickin’ hate the holidays. I think I’m going to put up a poll though for the best albums of the decade next week and that should be fun. I’m interested to see what people pick. And with my plans for 2020 in Sweden having fallen through, I’ve floated an Obelisk All-Dayer in Brazil in July 2021 maybe. That’s a ways off, but we’ll see. Would be fun.

Oh and there’ll be premieres and reviews and other stuff. It’s all in my notes, which frankly I’m too tired to look at at just this moment.

Have a great and safe weekend. Rock and roll and all that. We’re having a big party for The Pecan tomorrow with family and a few close friends. If you’re in the neighborhood, we’d love to have you come by. Email me for the address. We’ll have a bouncy house, so bring the kids. I’m completely serious.

Forum, merch, radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

 

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

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Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

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Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

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RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

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Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

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Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

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Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

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Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

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Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

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Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

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