Notes From Desertfest New York Night One, 09.15.23

Posted in Features, Reviews on September 16th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

R.I.P. 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

09.15.23 – Friday – Knockdown Center – Before show

Okay, I can admit it’s weird. Not through anything the festival has done, beyond perhaps existing, which I firmly believe is a positive thing, but for me personally, it’s a weird process. The last couple years, I’ve had a much easier time making it to festivals than club shows, and it’s been easier to travel than see something local. The way my schedule and life are arranged right now — bed early, up early to write and begin the day’s domestic whathaveyou — it’s nearly impossible for me to ‘get out to a show.’ It’s a significant rearrangement of multiple lives to make it happen.

My solution has been, every so often, to go to a festival, and I’ve been lucky to travel these last couple years, whether it’s to Germany, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, even Las Vegas. That pulls me out of the norm. I’m on my own. I don’t have to worry about the house, or anyone else’s schedule other than the bands. I’m removed from ‘real life.’ Not so with Desertfest New York.

This is the only festival I’ve been to in the last 15 years-plus where the travel involved is a commute. I spent two hours in traffic last night to get to Vitus. And more than an hour home because why wouldn’t there be dead-stop gridlock at midnight on a Thursday? It’s another layer — something else to worry about — that I feel when I’m here. It was true last year to some extent, but the sheer novelty of being out of the house in May 2022 made up some ground in terms of the overall experience. A big emotional high.

And again, it’s not about the fest. It’s about where I live. Just far enough out to be a pain in the ass. And if you’ve ever been to New York, especially driving, you know the city doesn’t exactly work to make it easy, or remotely pleasant. I’m not trying to complain about some shit — Desertfest has taken great care of me once again and The Patient Mrs. has uprooted herself and our kid on my behalf for the weekend; she even drove to and from the pre-show — it’s just a part of the experience I’m not used to. It’s weird to think about running the dishwasher after you get home from Colour Haze playing one of the best shows you’ve ever seen at the Saint Vitus Bar. It’s weird that the last thing I did before I left the house to come here was change over the laundry.

It’s weird. I’m weird too.

Two-dayer fests rule and here’s how night one of two went down:


SpellBook 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Pennsylvania cultists, doomers, a little bit glammers SpellBook had the bonus factor of having added Greg Diener of Pale Divine on guitar, which is never going to hurt you when it comes to doom riffs. It’s only been a couple months since he started with the five-piece, whose second album under the name — they used to be called Witch Hazel — Deadly Charms, came out last year. They played the title-track from it after “The Witch of Ridley Creek,” the joke there being that initially-cape-clad frontman introduced the first by saying “This next song is about a witch,” then saying the same thing before they played “Deadly Charms.” I missed that record but might pick up a CD if those exist as the swing of that hook sat right, and in the name of good times generally. Funny, before they went on, bassist Seibert Lowe came up and said hi, it’s been a while, etc. Curious, I looked it up. Saw Witch Hazel in 2015 at a fest in Maryland. Yeah, it’s probably been long enough.

Valley of the Sun

Reliability be thy name. Ohio’s Valley of the Sun were in Europe this Spring to do Desertfest Berlin and London, Esbjerg Fuzztival, etc., and a tour around that. Last year, they played the pre-show at Vitus (review here), wrecked it gloriously, and I’m not trying to toot my own horn when I say I knew they’d do the same on the main stage here at the Knockdown Center, but yeah, I had a pretty good idea of what was coming. They’ve been touring basically since before they put out The Chariot (review here) last year, and they absolutely sounded like it. Set was tight, pro, fun, and could’ve been delivered to 15 people at 1PM (there were many more there, and it was later, I’m just making a point) or 10,000 at midnight, I honestly don’t think it would matter. They did their set, their way, their presence bolstered by the unshakeable quality of their craft and the fact that even as veterans however many years later — 12 since the EP, I think? — they continue to look like they’re having fun. And goodness gracious, maybe they are.

Grave Bathers

Dark, moody, urbane heavy rock, with members of Yatra — who played last year — and Heavy Temple, who play tonight. Don’t doubt Philly is where it’s at. They’ve got a whole generation of up and coming bands and I’ll add Grave Bathers to the list. I didn’t hear last year’s debut, Rock ‘n Roll Fetish, so didn’t know the songs, but their delivery was right on as they put that fetish to good use. They were brash, maybe a little druggy — more pills/coke than weed — and seemed in the process of solidifying their approach, which, yes, means it was exciting set to watch.


Long drone before they went on. Like 10 minutes. Fair enough, I guess. But it was riffs freshly rolled once they got going, their traditionalism for desert rock very clearly familiar to the crowd on hand, and they were pretty fresh in my mind as well since they reissued their full-length discography ahead of coming to the US to play. They’ve also got socks at the merch table, which is knowing your market, I suppose. They’re probably the most successful heavy rock export from Greece to-date, and their groove answers any and all questions why. Newer material or old, they’ve always managed to find the tempo just right for their riffs. Last time I saw them was a decade ago at The Black Heart in London (review here) and they were killer then, so I knew a bit of what was in store, but the long drone became transitional ambience, and it was interesting to hear the maturity of 2020’s Youth of Dissent (review here) come through in their approach there, but you can’t beat the raw mellow nod of “Vidage.” The very sound of everything cool about this music and probably some stuff that’s only cool because 1000mods made it that way. Definitely need to buy some socks before the night is done.

Castle Rat

I had not yet seen Brooklyn trad metal/doom-adjacent troupe Castle Rat. It’s a particular aspect of New York that might make one feel late to the party before a band has a record out, but the room knew what was up, and the band put on a theatrical display of intermittently sexualized horror that included a bassist in a plague mask, a vampire guitarist, some kind of forest spirit on drums, the storyteller herself up front, a couple druids parked outside the room as greeters. Cool vibe, though I wonder about how it would/will work on an album, but maybe they don’t need to put out an album, though when they signed to King Volume Records in July, word was an LP in 2024. Either way, they’re young and in shape, and thus marketable, in addition to all that rocking and metal-of-eld. They had the room wrapt, and yeah, the evening is getting on and progressively less lucid, so maybe some staring anyway from the crowd, but they put on a show, rather than playing a set, and today or tomorrow there’s not another band playing this weekend doing the same kind of thing, let alone doing it so well, so I’ll take the win. I may never feel like Johnny Groundfloor on Castle Rat, but at least I can say I’ve seen them now. Which I suppose makes the fact that they killed a bonus.


I didn’t know this prior to looking it up — yes, sometimes it is handy to have an archive of nearly every show you’ve seen for the last however many years — but the last time I saw Windhand was at The Well for Desertfest NYC 2019 (review here). That place was cool, wouldn’t say a word against it, but DFNY works well at Knockdown Center and being inside for the most part — an outdoor third stage opens tomorrow — allows some seasonal/weather flexibility. As for Windhand, well, their most recent LP, Eternal Return (review here), turns five this year and vocalist Dorthia Cottrell — who’s doing a solo show tomorrow on the aforementioned third stage — put her new solo album, Death Folk Country (review here), on Relapse, to which Windhand are also signed for over a decade, and earlier this year they reissued their 2012 self-titled debut (review herediscussed here), did the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in California, and it’s kind of the personality of the band that they’re there when called upon. In this case, it was Truckfighters canceling that brought them here, and they did the job they were brought in to do. Slowest band of the day, easily, and the most miserable of the weekend this far. Murkiest sound anywhere. Like an out of focus photograph from the 19th century.

Heavy Temple

Oooh, Heavy Temple’s got new songs. And a new guitarist, who just happens to be Christian Lopez, also of Sun Voyager. High Priestess Nighthawk, Lopez and drummer Will “Baron Lycan” Mellor took to the stage with the door closed into the second room and then about a minute before they went on, the door opened and everyone came in at once and then they started and that was that. But jeez, put out a record. What’s the holdup? Your drummer is an engineer! Granted, it’s only been two years since Lupi Amoris (review here), but they’re about to go tour Europe for the first time with Howling Giant — whose new album is stellar, I had it on in the car on the way here — and taking a new release along doesn’t seem like the worst idea. Hell do I know. Once the door was open, the room packed out immediately, and not even a Colour Haze line check could bring the crowd out from the Texas stage. I don’t know when I last saw Heavy Temple, and at this point in the day I’m too tired to look, but they delivered like a band who has way more to their credit than two EPs, an LP and some other odds and ends — a notably righteous Type O Negative cover among them — and I was only happy to see them again and to hear some new material. The sooner the better on Heavy Temple’s sophomore LP.

Colour Haze

Loud whispers of “shh!” to people talking during the quiet parts. The keys seemed more prominent in the mix, but I stood right in front of the stage last night for the whole set, so who the hell knows what I was hearing or not. The flexibility of a photo pit means I can move around a bit and, say, go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Crazy shit like that. Most of Colour Haze Night Two — it really is a shame they’re not doing a third set tomorrow — artists-in-residence! pick any album you want out of the catalog and I’ll be more than happy to watch them play it in full — was instrumental, and I had been planning to go see R.I.P., from Portland, also quite far, but life doesn’t always afford you opportunities to see your favorite bands, and life is short and most of it is very, very difficult, so yeah, I stayed put. It was really difficult to think that Colour Haze might be playing in the building somewhere and I wouldn’t be there. So I put myself there and, as I occasionally remember to do, just enjoyed a thing for a couple minutes. On the whole, it was a more laid back set than last night’s at Vitus. They played “Transformation.” It was beautiful. I love the way it skips before it runs straight out and gets fast at the end. I hadn’t eaten since the morning and it was nearly 10PM. The Patient Mrs. texting to tell me to be careful on the way home. An infinity of distractions. But nah, just let me have this one for a minute. They closed with “Tempel” as someone yelled out “what a time to be alive!” No argument.

Quick note: I did go check out R.I.P. after Colour Haze finished. The second stage was packed, they were shredding oldschool-style dirt metal to the delight of all present. The pic at the top of this post is the room when they played.

Monster Magnet

Time marches forward and Monster Magnet remain a salve against bullshit in rock and roll. Of all the bands to close out the night, the stalwart outfit from my beloved Garden State are legends in the field, and founding frontman Dave Wyndorf was simultaneously out of his mind and in command of the show, which I think is how you get to be that dude. I had thought guitarist Garrett Sweeny (also The Atomic Bitchwax) was out of the band, but no. He had stage right while longtime collaborator Phil Caivano — who just put out a solo record; the band is called Caivano — had the other side, drummer Bob Pantella (also also The Atomic Bitchwax, ex-Raging Slab, RiotGod, and so on) was up on a riser in back and the bassist Alec Morton, also ex-Raging Slab [thank you Amanda Vogel for that], hung back with a Rickenbacker that both looked and sounded awfully nice. Original band member Tim Cronin was doing lights, as he reportedly will according to a seven-year planetary cycle. We’ve been back and forth online and I’ve covered his band The Ribeye Brothers a bunch because they’re cool, but we never met in person, so that was awesome earlier in the day. Monster Magnet opening with the Hawkwind cover “Born to Go” was also rather sweet. “Superjudge,” “Powertrip,” “Dopes to Infinity,” “Tractor,” “Mastermind” tucked away in the encore. Even as a headliner, Monster Magnet would have a hard time putting together a full career-retrospective set. I got to see then play “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” tonight, though, and that’s plenty. Pro-shop rock band, one of heavy rock’s all-time great frontmen tossing out middle fingers like they’re free samples at Costco, and all was well and the strobe flashed and the fan blew and the band tore Knockdown Center a new ass — but they did it in space, so it’s even cooler — and reminded everybody there which coast really invented stoner rock.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Quarterly Review: Dorthia Cottrell, Fvzz Popvli, Formula 400, Abanamat, Vvon Dogma I, Orme, Artifacts & Uranium, Rainbows Are Free, Slowenya, Elkhorn

Posted in Reviews on May 11th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Here we go day four of the Quarterly Review. I would love to tell you it’s been easy-breezy this week. That is not the case. My kid is sick, my wife is tired of my bullshit, and neither of them is as fed up with me as I am. Nonetheless, we persist. Some day, maybe, we’ll sit down and talk about why. Today let’s keep it light, hmm?

And of course by “light” I mean very, very heavy. There’s some of that in the batch of 10 releases for today, and a lot of rock to go along, so yes, another day in the QR. I hope you find something you dig. I snuck in a surprise or two.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Dorthia Cottrell, Death Folk Country

Dorthia Cottrell Death Folk Country

Crafted for texture, Death Folk Country finds Windhand vocalist Dorthia Cottrell exploring sounds that would be minimal if not for the lushness of the melodies placed over them. Her first solo offering since 2015 runs 11 tracks and feels substantial at a manageable 42 minutes as delivered through Relapse Records. The death comes slow and soft, the folk is brooding and almost resistant in its Americana traditionalism, and the country is vast and atmospheric, and all three are present in a release that’s probably going to be called ethereal because of layering or vocal reverb but in fact is terrestrial like dry dirt. The seven-minute “Family Annihilator” is nigh on choral, and e-bow or some such droner element fills out the reaches of “Hell in My Water,” expanding on the expectation of arrangement depth set up by the chimes and swells that back “Harvester” after the album’s intro. That impulse makes Death Folk Country kin to some of earlier Wovenhand — thinking Blush Music or Consider the Birds; yes, I acknowledge the moniker similarity between Windhand and Wovenhand and stand by the point as regards ambience — and a more immersive listen than it would otherwise be, imagining future breadth to be captured as part of the claims made in the now. Do I need to say that I hope it’s not 2031 before she does a third record?

Dorthia Cottrell on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

Fvzz Popvli, III


It’s been a quick — read: not quick — five years since Italian heavy rockers Fvzz Popvli released their second album, Magna Fvzz (review here), through Heavy Psych Sounds. Aptly titled, III is the third installment, and it’s got all the burner soloing, garage looseness and, yes, the fvzz one would hope, digging into a bit of pop-grunge on “The Last Piece of Shame,” setting a jammy expectation in the “Intro” mirrored in “Outro” with percussion, and cool-kid grooving on “Monnoratzo,” laced with hand-percussion and a bassline so thick it got made fun of in school and never lived down the trauma (a tragedy, but it rules just the same). “Post Shit” throws elbows of noise all through your favorite glassware, “20 Cent Blues” slogs out its march true to the name and “Tied” is brash even compared to what’s around it. Only hiccup so far as I can tell is “Kvng Fvzz,” which starts with a Charlie Chan-kind of guitar line and sees the vocals adopt a faux Chinese accent that’s well beyond the bounds of what one might consider ‘ill-advised.’ Cool record otherwise, but that is a significant misstep to make on a third LP.

Fvzz Popvli on Facebook

Retro Vox Records on Bandcamp


Formula 400, Divination

Formula 400 Divination

San Diegan riffslingers Formula 400 come roaring back with their sophomore long-player, Divination, following three (long) years behind 2020’s Heathens (review here), bringing in new drummer Lou Voutiritsas for a first appearance alongside guitarist/vocalists Dan Frick and Ian Holloway and bassist Kip Page. With a clearer, fuller recording, the solos shine through, the gruff vocals are well-positioned in the mix (not buried, not overbearing), and even as they make plays for the anthemic in “Kickstands Up,” “Rise From the Fallen” and closer “In Memoriam,” the lack of pretense is one of the elements most fortunately carried over from the debut. “Rise From the Fallen” is the only cut among the nine to top five minutes, and it fills its time with largesse-minded riffing and a hook born out of ’90s burl that’s a good distance from the shenanigans of opener “Whiskey Bent” or the righteous shove of the title-track. They’re among the best of the Ripple Music bands not yet actually signed to the label, with an underscored C.O.C. influence in “Divination” and the calmer “Bottomfeeder,” while “In Memoriam” filters ’80s metal epics through ’70s heavy and ’20s tonal weight and makes the math add up. Pretty dudely, but so it goes with dudes, and dudes are gonna be pretty excited about it, dude.

Formula 400 on Facebook

Animated Insanity Records website

No Dust Records website


Abanamat, Abanamat

Abanamat Abanamat

Each of the two intended sides of Abanamat‘s self-titled debut saves its longest song for its respective ending, with “Voidgazer” (8:25) capping side A and “Night Walk” (9:07) working a linear build from silence all the way up to round out side B and the album as a whole. Mostly instrumental save for those two longer pieces, the German four-piece recorded live with Richard Behrens at Big Snuff and in addition to diving back into the beginnings of the band in opener “Djinn,” they offer coherent but exploratory, almost-UncleAcidic-in-its-languidity fuzz on “Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom,” growing near-prog in their urgency with it on the penultimate “Amdest” but never losing the abiding mellow spirit that manifests out of the ether as “Night Walk” rounds out the album with synth and keys and guitar in a jazzy for-a-walk meander as the band make their way into a fuller realization of classic prog elements, enhanced by a return of the vocals after five minutes in. They’re there just about through the end, and fit well, but it demonstrates that Abanamat even on their debut have multiple avenues in which they might work and makes their potential that much greater, since it’s a conscious choice to include singing on a song or not rather than just a matter of no one being able to sing. The way they set it up here would get stale after a couple more records, but one hopes they continue to develop both aspects of their sonic persona, as any need to choose between them is imaginary.

Abanamat on Instagram

Interstellar Smoke Records store


Vvon Dogma I, The Kvlt of Glitch

Vvon Dogma I The Kvlt of Glitch

Led by nine-string bassist Frédérick “ChaotH” Filiatrault (ex-Unexpect), Montreal four-piece Vvon Dogma I are a progressive metal whirlwind, melodic in the spirit of post-return Cynic but no less informed by death metal, djent, rock, electronic music and beyond, the 10-song/45-minute self-released debut, The Kvlt of Glitch confidently establishes its methodology in “The Void” at the outset and proceeds through a succession marked by hairpin turns, stretches of heavy groove like the chorus of “Triangles and Crosses” contrasted by furious runs, dance techno on “One Eye,” melody not at all forgotten in the face of all the changes in rhythm, meter, the intermittently massive tones, and so on. Yes, the bass features as it inevitably would, but with the precision drumming of Kevin Alexander, Yoan MP‘s backflipping guitar and the synth and strings (at the end) of Blaise Borboën (also credited with production), a sound takes shape that feels like it could have been years in the making. Mind you I don’t know that it was or wasn’t, but Vvon Dogma I lead the listener through the lumbering mathematics of “Lithium Blue,” a cover of Radiohead‘s “2+2=5” and the grand finale “The Great Maze” with a sense of mastery that’s almost unheard of on what’s a first record even from experienced players. I don’t know where it fits and I like that about it, and in those moments where I’m so overwhelmed that I feel like my brain is on fire, this seems to answer that.

Vvon Dogma I on Facebook

Vvon Dogma I on Bandcamp


Orme, Orme

orme orme

Two sprawling slow-burners populate the self-titled debut from UK three-piece Orme. Delivered through Trepanation Recordings as a two-song 2LP, Orme deep-dives into ambient psych, doom, drone and more besides in “Nazarene” (41:58) and “Onward to Sarnath” (53:47), and obviously each one is an album unto itself. Guitarist/vocalist Tom Clements, bassist Jimmy Long (also didgeridoo) and drummer Luke Thelin — who’s also listed as contributing ‘silence,’ which is probably a joke, but open space actually plays a pretty large role in the impression Orme make — make their way into a distortion-drone-backed roller jam on “Nazarene,” some spoken vocals from Clements along the way that come earlier and more proclamatory in “Onward to Sarnath” to preface the instrumental already-gone out-there-ness as well as throat singing and other vocalizations that mark the rest of the first half-hour-plus, a heavy psych jam taking hold to close out around 46 minutes with a return of distortion and narrative after, like an old-style hidden track. It’s fairly raw, but the gravitational singularity of Orme‘s two forays into the dark are ritualistic without being cartoonishly cult, and feel as much about their experience playing as the listener’s hearing. In that way, it is a thing to be shared.

Orme on Facebook

Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp


Artifacts & Uranium, The Gateless Gate

Artifacts & Uranium Gateless Gate

The UK-based experimentalist psych collaboration between Fred Laird (Earthling Society) and Mike Vest (Bong, et al) yields a third long-player as The Gateless Gate finds the duo branching out in the spirit of their 2021 self-titled and last year’s Pancosmology (review here) with instrumentalist flow and a three-dimensional sound bolstered by the various delays, organ, synth, and so on. Atop an emergent backbeat from Laird, “Twilight Chorus” (16:13) runs a linear trajectory bound toward the interstellar in an organic jam that comes apart before 12 minutes in and gives over to church organ and sampled chants soon to be countermanded by howls of guitar and distortion. Takest thou that. The B-side, “Sound of Desolation” (19:55), sets forth with a synthy wash that gives over to viol drone courtesy of Martin Ash, a gong hit marking the shift into a longform psych jam with a highlight bassline and an extended journey into hypnotics with choral keys (maybe?) arriving in the second half as the guitar begins to space out, fuzz soloing floating over a drone layer, the harder-hit drums having departed save for some residual backward/forward cymbal hits in the slow comedown. The world’s never going to be on their level, but Laird and Vest are warriors of the cosmos, and as their work to-date has shown, they have bigger fish to fry than are found on planet earth.

Artifacts & Uranium on Facebook

Riot Season Records website

Echodelick Records website


Rainbows Are Free, Heavy Petal Music

Rainbows Are Free Heavy Petal Music

What a show to preserve. Heavy Petal Music, while frustrating in that it’s new Rainbows Are Free and not a follow-up to 2019’s Head Pains, but as the Norman, Oklahoma, six-piece’s first outing through Ripple Music, the eight-song/43-minute live LP captures their first public performance in the post-pandemic era, and the catharsis is palpable in “Come” and “Electricity on Wax” early on and holds even as they delve into the proggier “Shapeshifter” later on, the force of their delivery consistent as they draw on material from across their three studio LPs unremitting even as their dynamic ranges between a piano-peppered bluesy swing and push-boogie like “Cadillac” and the weighted nod of “Sonic Demon” later on. The performance was at the 2021 Summer Breeze Music Festival in their hometown (not to be confused with the metal fest in Germany) and by the time they get down to the kickdrum surge backing the fuzzy twists of “Crystal Ball” — which doesn’t appear on any of their regular albums — the allegiance to Monster Magnet is unavoidable despite the fact that Rainbows Are Free have their own modus in terms of arrangements and the balance between space, psych, garage and heavy rock in their sound. Given Ripple‘s distribution, Heavy Petal Music will probably be some listeners’ first excursion with Rainbows Are Free. Somehow I have to imagine the band would be cool with that.

Rainbows Are Free on Facebook

Ripple Music website


Slowenya, Angel Raised Wolves b/w Horizontal Loops

slowenya angel raised wolves horizontal loops

It’s the marriage of complexity and heft, of melody and nod, that make Slowenya‘s “Angel Raised Wolves” so effective. Moving at a comfortable tempo on the drums of Timo Niskala, the song marks out a presence with tonal depth as well as a sense of space in the vocals of guitarist/synthesist Jan Trygg. They break near the midpoint of the 6:39 piece and reemerge with a harder run through the chorus, bassist Tapani Levanto stepping in with backing vocals before a roar at 4:55 precedes the turn back to the original hook, reinforcing the notion that there’s been a plan at work the whole time. An early glimpse at the Finnish psych-doom trio’s next long-player, “Angel Raised Wolves” comes paired with the shorter “Horizontal Loops,” which drops its chugging riff at the start as though well aware of the resultant thud. A tense verse opens to a chorus pretty and reverbed enough to remind of Fear Factory‘s earlier work before diving into shouts and somehow-heavier density. Growls, or some other kind of noise — I’m honestly not sure — surfaces and departs as the nod builds to an an aggressive head, but again, they turn back to where they came from, ending with the initial riff the crater from which you can still see right over there. The message is plain: keep an ear out for that record. So yes, do that.

Slowenya on Facebook

Karhuvaltio Records on Facebook


Elkhorn, On the Whole Universe in All Directions

Elkhorn On the Whole Universe in All Directions

Let’s start with what’s obvious and say that Elkhorn‘s four-song On the Whole Universe in All Directions, which is executed entirely on vibraphone, acoustic 12-string guitar, and drums and other percussion, is not going to be for everybody. The New York duo of Drew Gardner (said vibraphone and drums) and Jesse Sheppard (said 12-string) bring a particularly jazzy flavor to “North,” “South,” “East” and “West,” but there are shades of exploratory Americana in “South” that follow the bouncing notes of the opener, and “East” dares to hint at sitar with cymbal wash behind and rhythmic contrast in the vibraphone, a meditative feel resulting that “West” continues over its 12 minutes, somewhat ironically more of a raga than “East” despite being where the sun sets. Cymbal taps and rhythmic strums and that strike of the vibraphone — Elkhorn seem to give each note a chance to stand before following it with the next, but the 39-minute offering is never actually still or unipolar, instead proving evocative as it trades between shorter and longer songs to a duly gentle finish. Gardner formerly handled guitar, and I don’t know if this is a one-off, but as an experiment, it succeeds in bridging stylistic divides in a way that almost feels like showing off. Admirably so.

Elkhorn on Facebook

Centripetal Force Records website

Cardinal Fuzz Records BigCartel store


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Windhand Reissuing Self-Titled Debut April 21; Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Look. I’ve made my feelings known about Windhand on multiple occasions. I think they’re massively undercredited as an influential act, and I think they’re one of the best American doom bands of their generation. That generation, by the way, is really only coming to prominence in the last three or four years, while Windhand, meanwhile, celebrate their 15th anniversary in 2023. Their 2012 self-titled debut (review here; discussed here) isn’t their best album or their most developed in terms of sound, but it was crucial moment, and I don’t think riff-worshiping, massive-low-end-consuming doom exists as it does today — and god damn does it ever exist today — without it.

We could sit here all day and talk about why Windhand are underrated while other acts reap hyperbolic praise for essentially sounding like Windhand — certainly gender-base discrimination is part of it; also their records are over an hour long in a time when attention spans assuredly aren’t — but I’d rather pop on the Jack Endino remaster of Windhand‘s Windhand, maybe check out the included rehearsal demos, and go back to what was the start of the band at least so far as I knew of them.

If you’re keeping up, you might note that this 2LP reissue arrives on April 21, which is the same day Windhand vocalist Dorthia Cottrell will release her new solo album, Death Folk Country (info here). Preorders, Arik Roper‘s cover art, and other details for everybody, courtesy of the PR wire:

windhand self titled





Richmond’s WINDHAND announce the deluxe reissue of their Self-Titled, debut album! Featuring 5 previously unreleased bonus tracks, including rare practice space demos and alternate mixes, the 2023 reissue of Windhand is remastered by Jack Endino, and features new artwork by Arik Roper.

Windhand (Deluxe Edition) is out April 21 on 2xLP/CD on Relapse Records. Pre-Order at

Listen to the full, remastered audio at


1. Black Candles (2023 Remaster)
2. Libusen (2023 Remaster)
3. Heap Wolves (2023 Remaster)
4. Summon the Moon (2023 Remaster)
5. Winter Sun (2023 Remaster)
6. Heap Wolves (Practice Space Demo 2009) (Bonus Track)
7. Black Candles (Practice Space Demo 2009) (Bonus Track)
8. Amaranth (Original Version Remixed) (Bonus Track)
9. Black Candles (Practice Space Demo 2010) (Bonus Track)
10 Winter Sun (Practice Space Demo 2010) (Bonus Track)

March 25-26 Heavy Psych Sounds Fest California 2023

Windhand, Windhand: Deluxe Edition (2023)

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Dorthia Cottrell to Release Death Folk Country April 21; “Family Annihilator” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Dorthia Cottrell (Photo by Richard Howard)

Hey, if Dorthia Cottrell is going to be a brooding part-goth next-generation take on heavy Americana folk, I am — in the parlance of 2019 — here for it. The Windhand vocalist released her eponymous debut solo album in 2015 and will follow it with Death Folk Country via Relapse Records on April 21. A video for the immersive, organ-and-cymbal-wash=backed, many-layered “Family Annihilator” is streaming now at the bottom of this post, and yeah, the PR wire’s a little late since the song’s been out a couple days now and I’m a little late since the PR wire sent the stuff yesterday, but like you and everybody else, I’m doing my best here to keep up. Maybe I wanted to wait until I actually had a few minutes to actually listen to some music before I wrote about it. Crazy I know in this go-go-go universe of infinite consumption and immediate gratification. If nothing else, “Family Annihilator” is a good occasion to slow your ass down for about seven of those otherwise vaporized minutes.

And special kudos for the line “Glory is no pedestal I’ll put my foot upon.” That’s not the kind of thing people talk about when they say “real America,” but it should be.

From the PR wire:

Dorthia Cottrell Death Folk Country




Pre-Order via here:

Dorthia Cottrell envisions her music as both a document of love and a reconciliation with death. On her new album, Death Folk Country, Cottrell wards off death through creation – the most distilled form of love. The spirit of love passed on through her words will be the ultimate reward for earthly suffering. Cottrell’s enigmatic presence guides listeners down a path of introspection – Death Folk Country’s massive scope touches upon tales of love, loss, and so much more.

Cottrell was raised in rural King George, Virginia, a town with less than 5,000 inhabitants. Forests and tall-grass fields stretched before her. Beauty and boredom soared. That vague melancholy and memory of the American South is smudged all over Cottrell’s music. Cottrell grew up a goth, an outcast in a small town – a time and place she revisits throughout Death Folk Country.

“This album to me is about painting a picture of a place where my heart lives,” Cottrell explains. The title Death Folk Country is partly me describing a genre that fits the sound – but it’s also meant to be taken as a Naming, a coronation of the world inside me. Death Folk Country is the music and also the land where the music takes place, and the two have always been inextricable from each other.”

The album’s lead single “Family Annihilator” directly speaks to the unease and tension of Cottrell’s surroundings. “Porch lights keep the demons at bay,” she sings over crashing cymbals and a field recording of birds. “I had never played it before, I kind of brought it out of the attic,” Cottrell says of the song. Despite being over a decade old, “Family Annihilator” spoke to the moment she was in. With the threat of another four years of conservative offices in power, Cottrell thought of family back in the South who would be voting, and remembered something her grandfather, a farmer, had told her years ago: “If a crop is diseased, you have to burn the whole crop.” “‘Family Annihilator’ is a result of me wondering if the whole field must burn today, to save the flowers of tomorrow,” Cottrell says.

Death Folk Country Track Listing:

01 – Death Is The Punishment For Love
02 – Harvester
03 – Black Canyon
04 – Family Annihilator
05 – Effigy At The Gate Of Ur
06 – Midnight Boy
07 – Hell In My Water
08 – Take Up Serpents
09 – For Alicia
10 – Eat What I Kill
11 – Death Is Reward For Love

Dorthia Cottrell, “Family Annihilator” official video

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest California 2023 Announces Full Lineups

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Park myself in Joshua Tree for a weekend just as the winter is turning to spring, catch a ton of awesome bands from and beyond the desert? Yeah, that sounds pretty magical, to be honest. Nothing against San Francisco. I’ve seen videos from outside at Thee Parkside and it looks like an incredible place to see a gig, but if I’m making the trip from the other side of the country — and unless there’s a sudden fiscal windfall in my favor, I’m not, sadly — it’s the desert calling, all the more with All Souls and BigPig and Third Ear Experience on that bill. That’s a memorable weekend in the making.

The 2023 lineups for Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in California are finished, and with the two posters next to each other you can see some of the differences from one to the other, but they’re mostly the same as artists will play in one city one night, the other the other, and as someone who remembers seeing Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson together a decade ago at Desertfest London 2013 (review here), I’d offer up a kidney to do so again if I thought I could be healed in time to actually enjoy the show in March.

Anybody want to buy some… shit I have nothing of value. Alright then.

Here’s the bill:


Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking is proud to announce *** HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST CALIFORNIA 2023 JOSHUA TREE & SAN FRANCISCO ***

full lineup announcement

Heavy Psych Sounds together with Plastic Cactus Productions and Subliminal SF presents the full lineup of the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest California 2023 !!!

MARCH 25 & 26



MARCH 25th and 26th


MARCH 25th and 26th




Windhand, Live in Hollywood, CA, June 26, 2022

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Psycho Las Vegas 2021 Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2021 banner

Plenty of this lineup looks familiar from what Psycho Las Vegas would’ve been in 2020, and duh, that’s the idea. You’ve still got Danzig doing Lucifuge, still got At the Gates and Katatonia and Emperor and Mercyful Fate. Still got the possibility that if I go, I can hang out after Pinback‘s set and bother Rob Crow about how badly he needs to do another Goblin Cock record. WinoFatso Jetson, Elder and Blackwater Holylight playing the pool party, six or seven curveball emo bands — all that fun stuff. Spectacle unmatched in heavy music, set in the Planet Earth’s official home for damned souls. It’s as perfect as it is incongruous.

Makes me wonder what Crowbar have going on next August.

But what you probably want to know is whether your ticket if you had one for 2020 is still good for 2021. Yes.


psycho las vegas 2021 poster

Psycho Entertainment presents Psycho Las Vegas 2021

Psycho Las Vegas has been rescheduled to August 20th – 22nd, 2021. Psycho Swim has been rescheduled to August 19th, 2021. If you already purchased a pass for either event and want to attend in 2021, there is nothing you need to do – your passes will automatically be valid for the new dates.

80 of the 83 bands originally booked on the lineup are returning in 2021. The bands who are not joining us next year are Ty Segall, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Crowbar.

Danzig, Mercyful Fate, Emperor, The Flaming Lips, Blue Oyster Cult, Down, Mayhem, Satyricon, Obituary, Warpaint, Blonde Redhead, HEALTH, Watain, Ulver, Katatonia, At the Gates, Poison The Well, Paul Cauthen, Amigo The Devil, Exhorder, Wolves in the Throne Room, Thursday, Pinback, Zola Jesus, Drab Majesty, Boris, Eyehategood, Repulsion, Immolation, Midnight, MGLA, Windhand, Cursive, Tsol, King Dude, Pig Destroyer, Brutus, Profanatica, Lower Dens, Cult of Fire, Intronaut, boysetsfire, Death by Stereo, Curl Up and Die, Adamantium, This Will Destroy You, Khemmis, Mothership, Guantanamo Baywatch, Dengue Fever, Kaelan Mikla, Black Joe Lewis, Fatso Jetson, Wino, Creeping Death, Mephistofeles, Frankie and The Witch Fingers, Toke, Foie Gras, Flavor Crystals, Silvertomb, Lord Buffalo, Warish, Alms, Bombers, Glacial Tomb, Relaxer, Black Sabbitch, Hippie Death Cult, Vaelmyst, Mother Mercury, Two Minutes to Late Night

America’s rock n’ roll bacchanal returns to Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino August 20th through August 22th, with another resort-wide casino takeover unlike any of its kind. Now approaching its fifth year in the swirling neon decadence of Las Vegas, PSYCHO will feature over seventy artists across four stages including the world-class Events Center, the iconic House Of Blues, Mandalay Bay Beach, and the vintage Vegas-style Rhythm & Riffs Lounge in the center of the casino floor. PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2021 will continue to redefine America’s conception of what a festival can be.

Psycho Entertainment presents Psycho Swim “The Official Psycho Las Vegas Pre-Party”

Old Man Gloom, Elder, Polyrhythmics, Death Valley Girls, The Skull, Blackwater Holylight, Here Lies Man, DJ Scott Seltzer

America’s rock n’ roll pool party returns to DAYLIGHT Beach Club on August 19th for the second annual PSYCHO SWIM. This official all-day pre-party celebrates the best of previous PSYCHO LAS VEGAS lineups with performances from a host of festival alumni as well as new PSYCHO additions.

DAYLIGHT Beach Club is nestled next to the Mandalay Bay Resort And Casino and features a 4400-square-foot main pool, daybeds, cabanas, and bungalows, with an elevated stage offering unobstructed, up-close-and-personal views of artist performances.

A Message from Psycho Las Vegas

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Psycho Las Vegas Announces Complete 2020 Lineup; Danzig, Mercyful Fate & Emperor Headlining

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

Psycho Las Vegas 2020 banner style

Danzig doing the Lucifuge record, plus Emperor and Mercyful Fate on US exclusives. In the age of spectacle, Psycho Las Vegas stands apart from its otherwise-might-be peers. There’s a method to all this madness. A plan in action. These people aren’t stupid — this isn’t a stupid lineup, unless you mean “stupid” in an emphatic sense. That’s what Psycho Las Vegas is: emphasis realized. The chaos is the mission. How could there be a more suitable complement to this year, this moment in human history? This is happening at a fucking casino. In Las Vegas. Do you understand what I’m telling you? Do you understand you surreal that is? Repulsion are playing a god damned casino. On a bill with The Flaming Lips and Katatonia. This is your brain on… fire, I guess?

A couple weeks ago — days ago? hours? I have no idea what day it is or why I should be expected to know; I’ve actually set an alarm to post this at the right time in an effort not to screw it up which I probably will anyhow — I happened to have some quick email correspondence with the souls behind the genre-consuming beast of a festival that is Psycho Las Vegas 2020 and I made my BIG PITCH for coverage. Want to know what it was? What it basically boiled down to was, “How about you guys bring me out to the festival and put me up for four days, I take a bunch of mushrooms, maybe go see some bands and write whatever the hell I want?”

Their answer was yes, so that’s my plan. I think Psycho deserves nothing less than me ranting about I don’t know probably cultural decay, self-hate manifest as pretentious judgmentalism, and not eating for four days? Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll go with that.

The schedule isn’t out yet, but it’s clearly a choose-your-adventure festival. For those seeing HOT TIPS from an internet influencer, you’re on the wrong goddamn site. I’m the guy who spent half his morning cleaning up animal piss at his mom’s house. I’ll say though that along with the gargantuan proportion of the headliners — come on, Danzig doing Danzig II is brilliant and you know it — and all the indie, emo and post-hardcore stuff that, yeah okay, I get it, the aughts were a thing for some people (not for me; was too drunk to remember any of it), it’s righteous to see such a huge event in addition to telling Coachella to suck its ass continuing to commit to the heavy underground. My chosen adventure will include but not be limited to placing priority on Lord Buffalo, Blackwater Holylight, Fatso Jetson (of course), Mothership (the context is too good to pass up), Hippie Death Cult and… yes… Katatonia. Because they’re the wintriest band ever and it’ll be 100 degrees. The most Psycho move ever would be to put them on the pool stage. Keeping my fingers crossed that’s how it works out. Shit, put Mayhem out there while we’re at it.

That’s all provided I’m not too out of my mind to leave the hotel room.

Here’s a poster and words in blue. See you there, sort of:


DANZIG (Celebrating 30 years of “Lucifuge”)
MERCYFUL FATE (2020 USA Exclusive)
EMPEROR (2020 USA Exclusive)
DOWN (Celebrating 25 years of “Nola”)
ULVER (2020 USA Exclusive)

Psycho Entertainment & MGM Entertainment present PSYCHO SWIM


Tickets for PSYCHO LAS VEGAS as well as the PSYCHO SWIM pre-party, which requires a separate ticket from the main festival pass, are on sale now!

Tickets for all PSYCHO LAS VEGAS events can be purchased at or

Danzig, Danzig II: Lucifuge (1990)

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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


— 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.

Windhand, Miscellaneous Demos & Alternate Mixes (2019)

Windhand, Live at WFMU 6.8.2013 (2019)

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