Review & Track Premiere: Five Horse Johnson, Jake Leg Boogie

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

five-horse-johnson-jake-leg-boogie

[Click play above to stream ‘Hard Times’ from Five Horse Johnson’s Jake Leg Boogie, out June 30 on Small Stone Records.]

The world in which Jake Leg Boogie takes place is one of grit, sneak-around-the-back-door blues, cheap hooch and the kind of swagger that can only result from the imbibing thereof. Issued via Small Stone, it is the eighth album from Toledo, Ohio’s Five Horse Johnson and the first since 2013’s The Taking of Black Heart (review here), and though that world might feel like a pipedream compared to some of the grim realities of modern existence, there are few acts who can sell the idea as well as the five-piece. They reunite here with original drummer Tim Gahagan, and after 22 years, their love of heavy rock and blues continues to be the core aspect that defines their work. With the rough-edged vocals of Eric Oblander out front, the riffing of Brad Coffin (also vocals) and Phil Dürr defining the course and the righteous classic rockery of bassist Steve Smith in the rhythm section alongside Gahagan‘s swing and push, Five Horse Johnson are as they should be throughout the 39-minute 10-tracker: Kicking ass, taking names, and fostering no regrets in the process.

Through cuts like “Magic Man,” “Little Lonely” and “Daddy was a Gun,” they weave tales of sleaze and professional-grade troublemaking, starting off with the Southern-style ruckus of the hook of the opening title-track, which is among the shorter songs at 2:40 but gets down to business almost immediately with a bouncing riff, room for a harp solo from Oblander and what sounds like a bit of slide on the guitar. One way or another, Five Horse Johnson are up to no good, and that sounds just about right. “Magic Man” brings together ’70s rock and blues in a fluid push that continues to build momentum from the opener, setting its place in Springfield, Missouri, and no doubt referring to a real-life incident involving some “bad company” that’s probably best not inquired after.

For a lot of what Jake Leg Boogie will do stylistically, the ground is already set. Five Horse Johnson aren’t a band known for nuance so much as getting drunk and still blowing everyone else off the stage, but the stomp and attitude they bring to the material here as “Cryin’ Shame” rears its riff back and lurches it forward again aren’t to be understated, and neither is the quality of songcraft that lies beneath them. Like both “Jake Leg Boogie” and “Magic Man” before it, “Cryin’ Shame” complements its boozery with a righteously and unabashedly welcoming chorus, and even as the opening salvo shifts into the slower-strummed, more-subdued “Ropes and Chains” — acoustics and electrics seeming to run side by side — Five Horse Johnson refresh their audience with an engaging verse/hook interplay before turning just past three minutes into a more boogie-laden instrumental finish to provide transition into the uptempo side A finale, “Hard Times.”

Thus far, the band has worked quickly and efficiently in offering true-to-their-nature heavy blues rock, but “Hard Times” is a standout for its craftsmanship and for the classically motoring riff at its center. It is very, very American. Chevys, whiskey spelled with the extra ‘e’, consciously ogling a lady standing right next to her dude — it’s all right there. “Hard Times” pushes through its four minutes so sure of itself and its place that one almost has trouble believing the lyrics, which of course are about hard times, but as it ends the first half of Jake Leg Boogie, it also marks the shift into the ultra-effective midsection of the album, which continues its up-jumped shuffle with “Smoke Show” before moving into the longest inclusion here, “Little Lonely.”

five horse johnson

It’s worth nothing that “longest” in this context means 4:53. No matter where Five Horse Johnson head on Jake Leg Boogie, they don’t lose sight of the album’s core mission in delivering sans-frills heavy blues. After the scorching leads on “Smoke Show,” “Little Lonely” draws back on the pace somewhat but makes up for it with a sing-along chorus and sleek groove, setting up the faster return of “Overload,” which offers more primo harp from Oblander, and the semi-finale of “Daddy was a Gun” — thereby making the speaker of the song a “son of a gun,” if it’s not obvious. Perhaps the clearest blues preach on offer, “Daddy was a Gun” also speaks to the closeness between Five Horse Johnson and Clutch, with whom Oblander has guested on tour and whose drummer Jean-Paul Gaster sat in on the last Five Horse record.

Still, they retain the consistency of their approach as they move toward the end of the record, which comes with the turn of the appropriately-named “Last Song,” a surprisingly quiet and sentimental short bookend to “Jake Leg Boogie” — the opener and the closer are the only cuts under the three-minute mark — that departs from some of the swagger in favor of an airier atmosphere, still soaked by Southern humidity but with an on-the-porch blues noodling guitar line and a tambourine as its only percussion, it’s a definite change nonetheless, and after all the brash crotchal thrust they’ve brought to bear across Jake Leg Boogie, they end on a note of understatement, as though to reaffirm we-didn’t-mean-no-harm sensibility that’s behind a string of nine liquor store robberies represented by the preceding tracks. “Boys will be boys,” said the cops.

More than two decades on, Five Horse Johnson have little to prove, and Jake Leg Boogie is accordingly less about taking over the world than about the band doing what they’ve always done well in affecting a controlled but still boozy tumult. With the return of Gahagan on drums, and consistency in presentation from working with longtime producer Al Sutton at Rustbelt Studios and cover artist Mark Dancey, the band are very much in form, and the world they create for and through these songs is as inviting as it is raucous.

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Five Horse Johnson website

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Small Stone Records website

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DVNE Announce New Album Asheran Due in July

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

dvne

Edinburgh-based four-piece DVNE have been playing shows steadily around the UK since the 2014 release of their last album, Aurora Majesty, so they haven’t been completely absent or anything like that. Their name tends to pop up in all-dayer lineups and things like that. Still, with three years between that record and the forthcoming Asheran, which the band touts as being an hour-long concept piece set to a story about a lost empire (about which you can read more below), the sense I get is that maybe this record took longer to come together than the standard “well, we’ve got eight songs and here they are”-type release might. Call me crazy.

With just over two months to go before the July 28 release through Wasted State Records, there’s no audio unveiled as yet, but you can see the Eli Quinn cover art and the tracklisting here, courtesy of the band’s Bandcamp page, where both Aurora Majesty and the prior Progenitor EP (review here) are streaming. Dig it:

dvne-asheran

DVNE – Asheran

Asheran is a 60 minute tapestry of music, an epic narrative following the tale of the rise and fall of civilisations, the return of an empire thought millennia lost, and the world-spanning events that unfold as a consequence.

Rich with themes of science fiction, environmental issues, and both dystopic and utopic visions for the future of humanity, listeners can expect the album to bring the pure heaviness vaunted during Aurora Majesty, whilst at the same time being tempered by the combination of more mature progressive, genre-spanning, and often at times melodic song-writing the band are quickly making their hallmark approach.

Releases July 28, 2017.

— I —
The Crimson Path
Viridian Bloom

— II —
Thirst
Descent Of The Asheran

— III —
Sunsets Grace
Rite Of Seven Mournings

— IV —
Edenfall
Scion

Recorded and produced by Graeme Young at Chamber Studios
chamberstudio.co.uk

Mixed and Mastered by Tom Dring at Vagrant Recordings
vagrant-recordings.co.uk

Artwork by Eli Quinn
Facebook.com/eliquinnart

DVNE is:
Victor Vicart – Guitar, Vocals, Keys
Dan Barter – Guitar & Vocals
Dudley Tait – Drums
Allan Paterson – Bass

Jenni Sneddon – Vocals (Edenfall)

Release date: 28 July 2017 by Wasted State Records
wastedstaterecords.bandcamp.com

https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/album/asheran
https://www.instagram.com/dvne_uk/
https://twitter.com/SongsOfArrakis
https://www.facebook.com/DvneUK
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DVNE, Aurora Majesty (2014)

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Boris Touring Europe in August to Support New Album Dear

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

It begins. And by ‘it,’ I suppose I mean the touring cycle Boris will undertake to support their new album, Dear, which releases on July 14 via Sargent House and Daymare Recordings. This touring cycle — you know, as opposed to the general touring cycle that Boris never seem to leave, which in 2016 had them out performing Pink in full and which, in addition to heralding the arrival of Dear on this upcoming run, will see the Tokyo experimentalist trio celebrating their 25th anniversary. The run starts in Moscow on Aug. 3 and will include shows around Poland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Ireland and the UK before finishing in Finland on Aug. 25. Lots of travel, lots of volume. Boris don’t mess around when it comes to either.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, the band unveiled the first bit of audio from Dear in a video for “Absolutego” when they announced the album earlier this month. You’ll find that clip at the bottom of the post here, because it’s the internet and I can do that kind of thing.

From the PR wire:

boris dear euro tour

BORIS DEAR/25TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR ANNOUNCED, NEW ALBUM OUT VIA SARGENT HOUSE, 14 JULY

Legendary amplifier-worshipping trio Boris recently announced the release of their twenty-third studio album, Dear, which is due out July 14th on Sargent House. Today we’re pleased to share news of live shows on the horizon in support of the album and their 25th Anniversary, including festival appearances, all dates below:-

BORIS 25 ANNIVERSARY/DEAR TOUR DATES
03/08 – Moscow, Volta – RU
04/08 – St. Petersburg, ClubZal – RU
05/08 – Vienna, Szene – AT
06/08 – Katowice, OFF Festival – PL
07/08 – Leipzig, Naumans – DE
08/08 – Berlin, Lido – DE
09/08 – Jaromer, Brutal Assault – CZ
10/08 – Munich, Backstage – DE
11/08 – Frankfurt, Das Bett – DE
12/08 – Lausanne, Rock Altitude – CH
13/08 – Ieper, Ieperfest – BE
15/08 – Cologne, Underground – DE
16/08 – Hamburg, Hafenklang – DE
17/08 – Bielefeld, Forum – DE
18/08 – Amstelveen, P60 – NL
19/08 – Bristol, Arctangent Festival – UK
20/08 – Dublin, Whelans – IE
21/08 – Cork, Cyprus Avenue – IE
23/08 – Belfast – Limelight – UK
25/08 – Helsinki – Nosturi – FI

Read on for more information about the new album…

Dear marks the band’s 25th year of existence and while the 10-track album is chockfull of early-Boris calling cards, the avant-garde mavens aren’t learning on old tricks, describing the album as “heavenly—far beyond heavy.” Boris have shared the album’s first single and magnificent new music video “Absolutego”.

Though Boris have traversed a broad swath of sonic territories, they have always been consistently embraced the excess, pushing their myriad of approaches and stylistic forays to points of intoxicating absurdity. Eventually the band reached a crossroads in the early years of their third decade together, leaving them wondering if there were any new horizons left to explore. The renewed vitality yielded an album that fortifies their monolithic wall of sound while also allowing the individual band members to explore the nuances and intricacies of minimalist riffs played at maximum volume.

Songwriting for Dear initially yielded three albums’ worth of material by the end of 2015, but as the band was slated to spend a large chunk of 2016 on their “Performing Pink” worldwide tour, they decided to hold off on releasing any new material. The tour further rekindled their passion for the craft, spurring the band to return home to crank out even more new material while scaling down three records’ worth of sonic deluge down to one.

From the glacial pacing and earthquaking rumble of the album opener to the smouldering rock ’n roll-infused “Absolutego”, Boris have managed to find wildly thrilling work in the familiar trenches of metal. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, the trio carves even experiments with fuzz fuelled dream pop. “At the very first moment, this album began as some kind of potential farewell note of Boris,” the band said. “However, it became a sincere letter to fans and listeners… you know, like ‘Dear so-and-so, this is the new album from Boris’ or something like that. We feel so grateful we can release this album in our 25th anniversary year.”

Dear will be released to the world on July 14, 2017 on CD, 2xLP, and digital formats. Stay tuned for more news to come.

Dear Track Listing:
1. D.O.W.N. (Domination Of Waiting Noise)
2. DEADSONG
3. Absolutego
4. Beyond
5. Kagero
6. Biotope
7. The Power
8. Memento Mori
9. Dystopia -Vanishing Point-
10. Dear

http://www.facebook.com/borisheavyrocks/
http://borisheavyrocks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sargenthouse/
http://www.sargenthouse.com/
https://www.facebook.com/daymarerecordings/

Boris, “Absolutego”

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Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight Premiere “75 What the Hell” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

trippy wicked and the cosmic children of the knight

Tomorrow, May 26, Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight will issue Lost Songs, a two-songer double-A-side seven-inch with material originally intended for use on a 2011 split with Dopefight that never came to fruition, not the least because that band called it quits. Still missed. Anyhoozle, it’s the first Trippy Wicked standalone offering since their 2013 EP, Underground (review here), and their second outing through HeviSike Records behind last year’s Guppy split/collaboration with Gurt (review here). They mark its coming by today unveiling a new video for the song “75 What the Hell.”

Over the years, we’ve heard Trippy Wicked — guitarist/vocalist Peter Holland, bassist Dicky King and drummer Chris West — cover a pretty wide range of sonic terrain. trippy wicked lost tracksTheir earlier material on 2009’s Movin’ On (review here) explored a kind of semi-Southern heavy rock, and over time they gradually took on a more aggressive edge, resulting in a particularly metallic feel for the songs on Underground. “75 What the Hell,” which would’ve preceded their 2012 second album, Going Home (review here), once again turns expectation on its head by featuring a two-minute punker blast built off an almost Karma to Burn-style riff. It’s got a hook to be sure, but Holland‘s vocals are blown-out in a way that’s way more Helmet-style noise rock than one would think. I guess sometimes you just have to belt one out.

“75 What the Hell” comes accompanied on the platter by “In a Bottle,” and it seems like Lost Songs will be a lead-in for the next Trippy Wicked full-length, which would be their first since the aforementioned Going Home. I don’t know the timeline on when one might expect that, but given that it’s already been half a decade, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a rush on it, particularly with Holland keeping busy in Elephant Tree and West (who might be tapped to record even though he’s not currently in the lineup of the band) playing bass in psych-proggers Landskap. Still, as a fan and someone who’s been fortunate enough to see Trippy Wicked live, their next long-player will be welcome whenever it wants to show up. Hell, I’ll be around either way.

Enjoy “75 What the Hell” below, followed by more info from HeviSike about Lost Songs, courtesy of the PR wire:

Trippy Wicked, “75 What the Hell” official video

London-based hard rock / metal trio TRIPPY WICKED & THE COSMIC CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT are set to unleash two previously unheard tracks on 26th May.

When founding member Chris West opened the great vault that is the Trippy Wicked archive, he found two songs that were recorded in 2011 for a planned split release with Brighton sludge act DOPEFIGHT. The two bands couldn’t co-ordinate schedules before Dopefight split up and the songs went on the backburner eventually lost to time. Now exhumed from their digital resting place the songs have been freshly mastered by Tony Reed (MOS GENERATOR) for release by UK label HeviSike Records.

‘Lost Songs’ captures a snapshot at a key period in the band’s evolution and will prove to be essential listening for fans of Trippy Wicked and the wider underground rock & metal community. A promotional video for ’75 What The Hell’ was planned and has now, 6 years later, been completed.

Trippy Wicked are currently writing their next album; their first full-length since 2012’s Going Home. The trio have recently released a split EP ‘GUPPY’ with fellow Londoners GURT, with whom they share current sticksman Bill Jacobs. At the same time as working on Trippy Wicked material, frontman Peter Holland has been gigging extensively across the UK and Europe with new band ELEPHANT TREE, including memorable sets at this year’s Desertfests London & Berlin. Chris West, who also previously played in STUBB alongside Peter, is currently performing bass duties in the psychedelic rock group LANDSKAP.

Regarding the recently completed video for ‘75 What The Hell’, West comments “Because the the songs had been shelved indefinitely I’d actually forgotten about the video we started work on. Releasing these songs has been a great opportunity to finish editing that. The song is a little unusual for the band but the video is 100% in the spirit of Trippy Wicked. I’d also say with the time it took to filming/photograph that last sequence Pete has a solid career as a living statue ahead of him.”

As well as a digital release, Lost Songs will be made available via a limited edition 7” single.

Side A – 75 What The Hell // Side AA – In A Bottle

‘Lost Songs’ credits
Pete Holland: Vocals, Guitar, Tuba
Dicky King: Bass
Chris West: Drums

Recorded by Westminster Brown at Dropout Studios.
Mixed and mastered by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Recording Co.
Artwork & Video by Chris West

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Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight on Bandcamp

HeviSike Records webstore

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Black Space Riders to Hit Studio in July for 2018 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

On a general level, I’m a sucker for productivity and for thoughtful songwriting, and German outfit Black Space Riders have always offered both. The days since the 2016 release of their most recent EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here), would seem to have been particularly fruitful, as the band reports via the PR wire below that they now have too much material written to fit even on a double album. That seems like it should be plenty, and the six-piece apparently agrees. They’ll hit the studio in July to begin laying down new tracks.

I’m also a proponent of making a strong single LP as opposed to a double LP in almost every situation — the theory being that if you truly love, love, love the songs you’re leaving off your record, the ones you’ve left on must be even better — so I’ll be interested for sure to see what Black Space Riders end up with from these sessions. A 2018 release is being eyed, so we’ve got a while before we find out, but here’s the latest update from the band:

BLACK-SPACE-RIDERS

BLACK SPACE RIDERS Entering the Studio this Summer

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS will enter the studio in mid-July to record new material. The thematic journey and musical cycle that covered the internationally acclaimed last album Refugeeum and the subsequent Beyond Refugeeum EP has been completed.

Singer / guitarist JE comments: “We have written a lot of interesting and new songs, too much material to fit on a classic double album. These are tracks that are flirting with different musical styles; we’re looking outside the box. We will start recording in July and then we’ll see what we’re going to do with this giant pile of music. In the beginning of 2018 there will definitely be a new release from us. Watch out!”

Refugeeum and Beyond Refugeeum are available on CD, vinyl and digital formats. Visit http://www.blackspaceriders.com/shop to place your order.

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

http://www.blackspaceriders.com/shop
https://www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders
https://www.youtube.com/user/blackspaceriders
http://blackspaceriders.bandcamp.com/

Black Space Riders, “Starglue Sniffer” official video

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Six Dumb Questions with Year of the Cobra

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

Earlier this Spring, Seattle duo Year of the Cobra made their way to Europe for the first time to play and tour around Germany’s Hell over Hammaburg festival. They’d already spent a decent portion of 2016 on the road leading up to and supporting the STB Records release of their debut full-length, …In the Shadows Below (review here), and given the momentum they established in so doing and the formidable response the Billy Anderson-produced offering garnered, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before they undertook the trip. One sincerely doubts it will be their last.

Since they put out their three-song EP, The Black Sun (review here), in 2015 through Devil’s Child Records and DHU RecordsYear of the Cobra — bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith — have worked hard to find and audience and been markedly successful in that regard. With a style that offers as much space as it does rumble and heavy groove to spare, cuts like “Vision of Three,” “Temple of Apollo” and “Electric Warrior” leave memorably rolling impressions, and the push of “Spider and the Fly” subtly incorporates elements of classic pop/rock in a way few heavy acts would dare on a fifth album, let alone a first.

Amid rumors of new material in progress, participation in Magnetic Eye Records‘ much anticipated Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], a slot Psycho Las Vegas this August and much more, it seemed well past time to chase down the band for a quick Q&A. As they make ready to move forward from …In the Shadows Below, they also have a new video for “Temple of Apollo” that recently premiered and which you can see at the bottom of this post. I put the album stream down there too, because I figured there’s a good chance that after you hear the one track you’ll probably want to put the rest of the thing on anyway. Might as well make it easy.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

year-of-the-cobra-in-the-shadows-below

Six Dumb Questions with Amy Tung Barrysmith of Year of the Cobra

It seemed like …In the Shadows Below got such a massive response, even after the EP did really well. Were you surprised by how the album was received?

Of course. You never know what people will think. It was important for us to follow the EP with a strong LP, and we were very deliberate and particular about every aspect of it from the musicality to the art design. But, after all that work, you really never know how people will receive it. All you can do is hope that your vision comes through and that people understand and like it as much as you do.

Tell me about recording with Billy Anderson. What made you go with him as a producer? What was the atmosphere in the studio like, how long were you in there, and how do you feel about the results on the album itself?

Well, he’s recorded a lot of our favorite records and was at the top of our “wish list,” so we sent him an email asking if he’d be interested and he responded the next day saying he liked the band and was on board. We were so stoked. We only met him a handful of times before we went into the studio so we weren’t really sure what to expect. In pictures, he can look really intimidating, but in person, he’s just a super witty, goofy guy.

He made the atmosphere so light and fun but was still able to coax out these crushing tones and performances. It was incredible. We spent a total of nine days in the studio with him recording. He spent several days mixing on his own and we went back for a final mix session, but before we were even done mixing, we were both really excited about what we had produced. It went beyond our expectations. He’s definitely the third member of YOTC.

You guys went to Europe for the first time in March. How was that trip? Tell me about the shows and the experience of going abroad to play. What were the crowds like? What were your expectations going into it and do you feel like they were met?

Europe was amazing. The main reason we went was to play Hell over Hammaburg Festival in Hamburg, Germany. We figured since we were going, we’d book a small tour around it. We weren’t sure what to expect, in all honesty. This first tour was a bit of a litmus test to see how we would do. Would we have a crowd? Would we be well received? Would it be worth going back for a longer tour?

All of it went better than we could have expected. There were people wearing our t-shirts or sweatshirts at every show!! People were singing along and many told us they had driven for hours to come see us play. It was incredible. Hell over Hammaburg Festival was a blast as well. It was so well organized and diverse and it was sold out! When we were packing to leave to go back home, we were both blown away at how well everything went and were kicking ourselves for not staying longer. Next time!

Tell me about being in a band with your partner. You’ve been able to tour steadily with the two of you, but how does having Year of the Cobra as an extension of your relationship play out? Not to get too personal, but does the band relationship just become part of the whole broader relationship, or is it its own thing?

That’s a good question. I don’t think either of us knows where one starts and the other ends, in terms of relationship vs. bandmates. What’s nice is that we complement each other in both our relationship and our band. One of us might be good at one thing, while the other is good at something else. We never sit down and divvy up jobs, we just kind of naturally go about it and it all gets done. The good thing is, we both feel like we’re equals working as a team because we have a common goal, we have the same work ethic, and we have similar artistic views. It makes everything work pretty smoothly.

I hear there’s new material in the works. How far along are you in writing? Is there anything specific you’re trying to do coming off of the debut?

We’re really excited about the new material!! We hit the studio at the end of June with Billy Anderson at the helm again. We’ll be recording an EP plus two songs that will go on the Magnetic Eye Records Pink Floyd Redux. We’ve spent the past couple of months focusing solely on writing new songs and were able to debut one of them at our last show! There is still a lot more work to do, but we’re definitely on track.

You’ve mentioned going back to Europe this Fall and you’ll play Psycho Las Vegas in August. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

We have some US tours being booked around Psycho Las Vegas in August and Stoned Meadow of Doom (Omaha) and Doomed and Stoned (Indianapolis) in September/October respectively. It will be fun to get back to some of the cities we hit last summer.

The EP will be released in the fall as well, so there is a lot of stuff piling up at the end of the year. Europe, sadly, didn’t work out for October, but we’re planning on going back next spring/summer. Stay tuned, we have many more announcements coming soon. Things are ramping up in the YOTC camp.

Year of the Cobra, “Temple of Apollo” official video

Year of the Cobra, …In the Shadows Below (2016)

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Mos Generator to Record New Album Next Month; Live Dates and Reissues Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mos generator

Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rockers Mos Generator hit the studio in June to record their next full-length. It’s been a minute since the last time the band either hit the road or had a release — and after a few years of them more or less as a constant, that clearly meant they were up to something. Writing a new record, apparently. All the better. The Tony Reed-led three-piece will sandwich the recording process this time with two local shows before and after, presumably to get themselves in a live mode before laying down the material and then follow-up with a victory lap once the album is tracked, and with the prospect of a release before the end of this year from Reed, bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jono Garrett, there’s little else to say about it other than “right on.” So yeah. Right on.

Of course, that’s just the start of it when it comes to Mos Generator news. Reed, in addition to having now pressed up the Lies of Liberty (review here) EP for a physical release, also checked in with a few other bullet points, including a new video to come for “Wicked Willow.” Not sure if it will be the version from last year’s long-player, Abyssinia (review here), or the EP The Firmament (review here) — the participation of Chris Mathews, Jr., suggests the latter, but that’s not a sure thing — two new vinyl reissues to arrive in the coming months and a European tour being put together for this Fall by Heavy Psych Sounds. They’ve already been announced for Keep it Low 2017 (info here), so it’s good to know there’s more to come on that front as well.

They’ve also been confirmed to take part in Glory or Death Records‘ tribute comp to Thin Lizzy, so it’s a multiple-front attack from Mos Generator, as one has come to expect. You won’t hear me complain. Here’s the latest from Reed and Co.:

mos generator june shows

Mos Generator – New Album Recording & June Shows

We are gearing up to start recording our next record and play our first shows in almost 7 months. We get one rehearsal for those shows. Aaahhh!!!! Should be fun though. I know we are recording part of it in the basement of an old bank that closed in 1982.

We are also book-ending our recording sessions with 4 regional shows. Our first shows of the year.

Mos Generator live:
06.02 Manette Saloon Bremerton WA
06.03 Coog’s Port Angeles WA
06.04-06.08 IN THE STUDIO
06.09 Substation Seattle WA
06.10 The Valley Tacoma WA

Lies of Liberty out now

The majority of these songs were written circa 1986 – 1987 when I was in a band called Lies of Liberty. A few of the songs came from other side projects I was doing around the same time. Lies of Liberty only played a handful of shows and we never made proper recording of these songs (and many others) so great to finally hear these songs recorded and performed the way I always wanted them to be. I sent 1986 – 87 rehearsal recordings of these songs to Sean and Jono to listen to and learn on their own time and then we would get together and record them. On August 1st 2016 we gathered in the jamroom, learned 12 songs, and recorded the music live to 6 tracks of an 8 track recorder in 4 hours. Soon
after I did the vocals and a mix. We have been playing a few of these live and it’s always surprising contrast to our other material. It’s great to see people’s faces when we play ‘em.

Reissues to come and more

— “Songs for future gods”(south spit records) & “Nomads”(south spit records) (US) / Stickman Records (euro) vinyl reissues coming.

— Euro tour in October being booked by Heavy Psych Sounds.

— We will also be filming a video for “Wicked Willow” with Chris Mathews Jr.

https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
http://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/
http://stickman-records.com
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/
http://southspitrecords.com/rock/index.php
http://www.shop-listenable.net/fr/47_mos-generator

Mos Generator, Lies of Liberty ’87 (2016)

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Review & Full Album Stream: WhiteNails, First Trip

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

whitenails first trip

[Click play above to stream First Trip by WhiteNails in its entirety. Album is out Friday, May 26, via Magnetic Eye Records.]

Quebecois six-piece WhiteNails make a resoundingly cohesive impression with First Trip, which telegraphs its self-awareness even unto its title. Delivered through Magnetic Eye Records, it is the debut release from the Canadian outfit, not just their first full-length, and as an opening argument it speaks to the band having come together last year with some clear idea of what they wanted to do sonically, in form and maybe general style if not the direct specifics of cuts like “Dead in Time” or “Damn Judas.” A mission to make catchy, uptempo, soulful heavy rock, perhaps, and First Trip is the result of that from the first-name-only lineup of vocalist Darcy, guitarists Danahé and Taylor, bassist JP, keyboardist Vince and drummer Maxx, who for all the personnel — they also bring in guest vocalist Gab Shonk on the aforementioned “Dead in Time” — don’t come across as overblown in the slightest.

Throughout the eight-track/41-minute offering, they endeavor to hone a foundation of songwriting to underscore the boogie in cuts like “In My Blood” and the thrust of opener “Shanghaied,” and though their arrangements are full, it’s perhaps in part thanks to the vocal command of Darcy that the record remains grounded, as from the leadoff onward, his presence as a frontman comes through in verses and chorus alike, whether he’s surfing the riff of “Shanghaied” reminding somewhat of Black Thai‘s Jim Healey or calling to mind Gozu‘s Marc Gaffney in “In My Blood” and the layered harmonies of “Silver Linings.” Gozu, in some of their harder-edged post-Queens of the Stone Age swagger, would seem to be an influence across the board.

Still, those vocals are well-balanced in the mix, and the aesthetic remains modern throughout, with a full and willfully distortion driving Danahé and Taylor‘s guitars that finds its most-doom moment in the penultimate “Brazen Bull” after a variety of executions playing around the central heavy rock theme in terms of pace, push and the structure of the riffs that lead, be it the all-forward movement of “Shanghaied” welcoming the listener to First Trip by pulling them through an open doorway of accessibility, or the ultra-catchy companionship that track finds as “Damn Judas” leads off side B. Some of the titles convey a sense of darkness, whether it’s the chugging “Done and Gone” or “Dead in Time,” which come back to back after the opener, or “In My Blood” and “Damn Judas” later — even closer “The Crooked Lake” seems to have some measure of threat in the use of “crooked” — but it’s not until “Silver Linings” that one finds that darkness beginning to come to fruition.

whitenails (Photo Caroline Perron)

And though their cover art might lead one to go into the album immediately searching for an Uncle Acid influence, the amount of strain required to hear it in the riff of “Damn Judas” is enough to make me think it simply isn’t there at all. Okay then. Basically, the crux of First Trip sets itself toward pursuing a solid execution of varied heavy rock songcraft, and it most certainly gets there, building in momentum through the first five songs — if one is listening on CD/DL, the linear momentum flows notably well; I haven’t heard a vinyl edition but the track structure is definitely two-sided — before shifting into that darker terrain on “Silver Linings” and “Brazen Bull” and airing out a bit of psychedelia on “The Crooked Lake,” which marks the most patient stretch of the record and a departure from the preceding ground covered.

Particularly for a debut, it would likely be enough for WhiteNails to acknowledge the need for aural diversity, let alone actually bring it to fruition in the manner they do, but they find a balance between consistency of tone and changes in structure and mood that hints either at prior experience among the members in bands together or at an especially quick-in-developing chemistry at work. One way or the other, the reward is palpable throughout First Trip, up to and including the closer, which with its more prominent keys and fluid guitar lines nods at Vangelis-style atmospherics early and drifts into a markedly satisfying linear build in its second half to pay off the album as a whole. It’s a long way from the party vibe of “Dead in Time” or “In My Blood,” which would seem to be the most motion-minded cuts along with “Damn Judas,” which is a highlight overall, but it serves as an encouraging last-minute defiance of the expectation WhiteNails have already put in effort to establish.

That is to say, they’ve set forth their rules and then almost immediately, gleefully broken them. Again, this is something a penchant one generally expects a group to develop over time — and WhiteNails may yet have more anti-conventionalism up their collective sleeve; I wouldn’t speculate after only one release — but it serves notice to anyone willing to hear it that the band are not at all finished growing. So be it. While the destination where that growth might take them ultimately in terms of style feels open to a range of possibilities, it seems safer to bet that the underlying quality of songwriting will be a continuing factor from WhiteNails as they move forward, as it proves to be the essential statement made by their impressive and cogent first offering.

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WhiteNails website

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

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