Friday Full-Length: Child, Child

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Melbourne-based heavy blues rockers Child released their self-titled debut on Feb. 19, 2014, just over five years ago. It was the right vibe at the right time, though quite frankly, in terms of time, now works pretty damn well too. Comprised at the time of guitarist/vocalist Mathias Northway, drummer Michael Lowe and bassist Jayden Ensor, the three-piece made their purposes plain right in the opening lines of “Trees” that set the record on its way: “Every day/Every day I have the blues.” Even in the repetition of “every day” at the start, Northway conveyed the band’s aesthetic adherence to what he was singing about. They used to call it “blue-eyed soul,” which was a nice way of saying “made by white dudes stealing from black dudes,” but whether it was Cream and Led Zeppelin, Ten Years After, John Mayall, ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughan — or any of the multitudes of others who heard Robert Johnson and subsequently picked up a guitar — Child would hardly be the first to bear that tag. For what it’s worth, they wore it well on the five-track/37-minute LP. Australia’s complicated and ongoing racial history is its own thing, and I’m no expert on it, but whatever else one might say about cultural appropriation, white people in Australia didn’t hold African slaves in America, and that makes a big difference in how one should think about their relationship to African-American culture.

And while they might have the blues every day, Child weren’t shy either about expressing them in a massive wall of fuzz as “Trees” made its way through its second half. The languid opener gave way to “Stone by Stone,” a fluid jammer that underscored the whole-album sensibility of the work overall. Though “Trees” cut to silence at the end and “Stone by Stone” picked up from there, the live feel came through as an essential component of what the band were doing. Coupled with Northway‘s melodic flow in kind with the lead noodling and the bass that seemed to anchor the groove even as the drums built toward one chorus after the next, “Stone by Stone” and the tracklist-centerpiece and side A closer “All Dried Up” that followed, it became clear that the listener was experiencing a live set transposed to tape. It’s a two-sided LP in its construction, no doubt, but even as the guest organ from the mysterious Horce entered into “All Dried Up,” it was easy to imagine Child tucked into some barroom corner, maybe on a stage, maybe not, building up the track — also the shortest on the record at just over five minutes — and turning heads among those seated around them drowning their own woes. The child self titledoverarching naturalism of the recording — its tonal warmth, the relatively barebones presentation of instruments and vocals clear but not overly produced — set just a balance for the trio to make their statement in tying together heavy rock and blues traditionalism while making both sound refreshed for their handling.

I don’t want to say side B was where they really got down to business — since “Trees,” “Stone by Stone” and “All Dried Up” were nothing if not down to business — but in “Mean Square” and “Blue Overtone Storm/Yellow Planetary Sun,” Child hit another level of molten blues, and drew together the dual facets of their personality once more with an organic feel that wasn’t just indebted to the ’70s in a vintage-sense, but seemed to delve deeper, playing toward what inspired the heavy rock movement in the first place. That was, in large part, the blues, but also psychedelia, garage rock and even the pop of the day. “Mean Square” resolved itself in a hypnotic lumber, finding a place between past and present that’s as ready for repeat listens as any heavy blues I’ve ever heard, and at just over 10 minutes, “Blue Overtone Storm/Yellow Planetary Sun” reminded of the understated hooks that were present all along as the reward for those repeat listens, playing out complemented by a gloriously fuzzy lead in the first part of the song with languid drumming keeping the nod rolling beneath as the bass filled out the room with heavy bottom low end. The change happened at about four minutes in, but if you weren’t paying the strictest attention, it was easy to miss and wake up a minute later wondering what the hell happened as Child Sabbath‘ed their way into “Yellow Planetary Sun” like the intro to “War Pigs,” but slower, and the basis for the part itself rather than just an intro to depart from. The tension in the drums as Lowe never misses the beat was astonishing all the same, and one more Northway held down the kind of solo on guitar you could imagine leading the way into a 20-minute jam on stage. You would not hear me complain.

By the time they got around to following-up the self-titled with Blueside (review here), released in 2016 through Kozmik Artifactz with likewise glorious cover art by Nick Keller, Jayden Ensor was out of the band and they’d brought in Danny Smith. The live feel of the debut was brought even more to the center as an essential part of their presentation, up to including studio chatter between/before the songs, and the hooks grew as well with the employ of guest backing vocalists to enhance the soulful delivery. After Blueside, they continued the progression in 2018 with the likewise live-recorded EP I (review here), that brought together the sleek rhythm of “Age Has Left Me Behind” and the 10-minute jam “Going Down Swinging” with the Spirit cover “The Other Song,” which was only fitting for the treatment Child gave it.

They toured Europe last year and in addition to shows around Australia it looks like they’ll be back in Europe this coming summer, as they’ve already been confirmed for Black Deer Fest in Australia to the UK is a long way to go for one show. Not to say that’s impossible, but yes to say I have my eye out for a tour announcement sometime in the coming weeks.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Man, I fucking hate the music industry. The little corner that heavy rock occupies is cool. By and large the bands are decent human beings — no rule is absolute — and the labels and PR, even when you’re not cool enough to do something, at least they kind of let you down easy. Like, man, I can’t do shit with Relapse to save my life. They don’t need me. What, I’m gonna premiere fucking Windhand when they’ve got NPR on their side? Hardly seems likely. But I get it and it’s good for the bands to get that kind of exposure, so I roll with it. What choice do I have other than banging my head into the wall? Okay then.

But I got a reminder this week of how fucking lame and terrible and faux-professional and low-stakes-pretending-to-be-high-stakes the music industry at large is, and straight up, fuck that shit. It was a reminder to me of how burnt out I was 10 years ago when I started this site in the first place. I’m just not cut out for that game. Every now and then, it’s probably good for me to remember that. I’ve always sucked at it. I don’t want to sell you shit. I just want to write.

Probably fortunate, then, that I have so much god damn writing to do. Today was a mess trying to get that All Them Witches review done in time — I finished it right before I put it up, which is rare these days; I usually let things stew at least for a while — and yesterday I was finishing today’s Quarterly Review post and starting that even as I was about to call Dave Chandler from Saint Vitus for an interview that — gawd willing — will be posted here at some point. All this while I’ve still got Weirdo Canyon Dispatch stuff hanging over my head, TWO releases of PostWax liner notes to write, and because absolutely I said yes to this when the email came in in the afternoon, a bio to write for the new Nebula record.

I. Am. So. Fucking. Stupid.

You ever want proof of my sense of self-value: I’m getting paid for none of this. That’s what I think of me. That’s how much I’m worth in real numbers (actually, it’s considerably less when you factor in debt). I got a PayPal for $18 from Dropout Merch last week for t-shirts and got excited.

My brains… are going… into my feet.

But while I sit here and tempt end-of-naptime fate, let me not waste your or my precious time bitching. Next week is also busy as we get into holy-crap-I-gotta-get-this-done-before-Roadburn mode as though anyone other than me lives and dies by that coverage and what “needs” to be finished in terms of “work” for me to leave the country with a clear conscience.

Here’s notes. Expect them to change:

MON 03/25 Quarterly Review Day 6; Pyramidal track premiere.
TUE 03/26 Stone Machine Electric vid premiere/review; Duel vid premiere/review.
WED 03/27 Chalice of Suffering track premiere; Slush track premiere.
THU 03/28 Cities of Mars track premiere.
FRI 03/29 Witchfinder premiere.

That Tuesday will determine the whole week.

It’ll work out. And I’ll get my shit done. This isn’t the busiest I’ve ever been by a longshot. A few hours here and there over the next week and a half and I’m set. And what additional factors made a part of my life say, about 17 months ago, could possibly complicate that in any way?

I’m so exhausted.

Happy Spring!

Have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading. Forum, Radio, and merch at Dropout.

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Live Review: All Them Witches in Boston, MA, 03.20.19

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

All Them Witches (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The sun was setting quickly as I parked in the lot across from The Sinclair in Cambridge, surrounded by swank Harvard tourist traps and the restaurants that rightfully gouge the parents of the privileged and talented. It was the vernal equinox; the first day of Spring, and at night, a supermoon would loom large over a navy blue sky that might otherwise be black. Amid all this natural phenomena, Nashville’s All Them Witches were headlining a two-band bill, and though I walked in only minutes after doors opened, I still couldn’t get a spot in front of the middle of the stage to take pictures. A band about whom their fans feel strongly. So be it.

I was early, well in time to catch openers Plague Vendor, whose frontman gangly-jellylegged and James Brown‘ed and DavidBowie-via-NickCave‘d as the band behind him held down solid harder-hitting post-punk vibes, some groovy rockers, songs about getting drunk on highways, sex, the like. Stuff the kids do. They were aerobic, and not entirely my speed, but they put on a good show, said frontman at one point grabbing the Red Sox hat off a dude in the front row — and, much to his credit, confirming quickly that it was okay he did so — and wearing it down over his eyes as he wound up as though to pitch the start of the next verse. It was a nice move, and he gave the hat back after.

Crowd ate it up. I got silently cynical about the music industry, but whatever. If I was into fun, I’d probably have been all over it. You know how it goes.

They finished — may they never go bald; may they never get fat — and the room had a moment to breathe before All Them Witches went on with “War Pigs” as their intro. I don’t want to say it like I’m Jonny Investigativereporter or something, but I was curious to seem them. I’ll admit that. I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter All Them Witches live a couple times since they started touring, and since late last year when the band announced they’d parted ways with keyboardist Jonathan Draper, who was brought in ahead of their 2018 album, ATW (review here), and would remain a trio for the foreseeable future, I wanted to know how it would affect their sound. With five records, they certainly have enough material to draw from that they don’t have to focus on stuff that featured the work of Draper or the Fender Rhodes of Allan Van Cleave, whom Draper replaced, but it was a chance to see the band on a decent-size stage as they took on this task of renewing their approach. I wanted to see how they did it.

Well, bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod and drummer Robby Staebler hit the stage, went into “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird” from 2013’s Lightning at the Door (review here), “3-5-7” from 2017’s  Sleeping Through the War (review here) and the brooding single “Diamond” from ATW, and I swear to you — this is completely honest; not exaggeration, not hyperbole, not a convenience of a narrative I’m trying to build — I forgot all about it. It wasn’t until after they were through “1st vs. 2nd” from the new album and “Dirt Preachers” from 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), “Fishbelly 86 Onions” and its subdued fellow ATW track “Harvest Feast” — which Parks introduced by saying, “This is a blues song. Time to get blue,” that I even remembered to think about it. In the meantime, ParksMcLeod and Staebler jammed their way into wide open psych-blues spaces and gave the answer to the question: they’re moving forward. That’s all there was to it.

They had no trouble at all stating their case to the room. One imagines that owning the larger stage as they did was something they mastered while on tour last summer with Mastodon and Primus playing amphitheaters and the like, but either way, whether it was Parks‘ grungey charisma leaning into the mic or the dry wit of his stage banter, the manner in which Staebler seemed to throw his whole body into the groove as he always has, but this time all the more looming for being on a riser, or McLeod seeming to step somewhat reluctantly — he’s usually pretty quiet on stage — forward in carrying forth the atmospherics of a song like “Warhorse” from the newest LP, or for that matter in the jam of “Harvest Feast” just before. His presence was quiet but not lacking energy, as, with his hair largely in front of his face, he helped guide the way through the subtly progressive aspects of the material.

I don’t think All Them Witches would’ve chosen to be a three-piece if you’d asked a few years ago, but they can make it work, and more importantly, keep progressing in this form should they so desire. They made highlights of “Charles William” and “When God Comes Back” from Lightning at the Door, playing them back to back before turning on the disco ball for Sleeping Through the War‘s “Alabaster” because, as Parks noted, “It’s a dance song.” And so it was. Perhaps not in the same sense of the heavier parts of “When God Comes Back” — which was one of several moments that actually had people moshing; any excuse to throw a punch in this town — but a dance song nonetheless and one that not only showcased the range of the band’s work, but the dynamic nature in which they’ve learned to pull it all off live.

The regular set capped with “Swallowed by the Sea,” again from Lightning at the Door, and they left the stage, only to come back out for “Blood and Sand/Milk and Endless Waters” from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, which was as fitting an end as anything as they took the song and ran with it in a jam as they had with “Harvest Feast” earlier. There’s no question that the lineup shift has changed them, and maybe this tour is how they’re getting their feet under them in this form, or maybe that’s a multi-tour process as they continue to grow, but the terrifying truth of All Them Witches is just that: Growth. In the time since their 2012 debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here), their progression has never stopped, and though certain aspects of their approach are defined in terms of how they play or perform, they’ve never really settled in terms of sound. Their next record will be different, but honestly, it was going to be different anyway. Which two All Them Witches records sound the same?

Maybe they’ll add a fourth member, maybe not. The question was no longer on my mind as I made my way out of The Sinclair and back to the parking lot across the street to pay the robot and make my way home under that night-blue sky that seemed all the more appropriate given what I’d just witnessed.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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Høstsabbat 2019: Hexvessel and Suma Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2019 banner

You already know what I love about this, right? It’s how different these two bands are. Hexvessel — who, I admit, were announced last week; as ever, the Quarterly Review has me all jammed up as on other stuff waiting to be posted, so I thought it better to combine announcements rather than fall behind twice — and a Finnish freak-folk band, worshiping the natural world. Suma, from Sweden, would seem to only want to crush things natural and manmade alike with their chaotic and brutal noise. It’s what you’d call an unexpected pairing, and that’s exactly why I dig it. Maybe they’ll play back to back. That’d be fun.

There’s one more announcement next Friday from Høstsabbat 2019. Yes, I know who it is. It’s awesome. You don’t want to miss it. I’m not going to give you a clue, but it’s someone I’m very excited to see.

Here are confirmations for Hexessel and Suma in the meantime:

Most of the time these band descriptions kind of write themselves. This next band however, is something completely different.

Their latest album “All Tree”, released one month ago on Century Media Records, has spellbounded the Høstsabbat camp completely. Hexvessel operate in their own universe, mixing classic folky tones and groove, with the flourishing sounds of the 60’s-era. Freedom and no restraint is key.

The band serves the listener a lush experience, putting a smile on your face, teasing you for a walk in the sun leaving all things bad behind… Sometimes that’s what music is all about, right?

It’s also a landmark, to finally have the first Finnish band represented on our lineup. Can you imagine a better debut for these beautiful people from the East, than having HEXVESSEL play the Church? We surely can’t.

Please welcome HEXVESSEL to Høstsabbat 2019!

Ooooh, the heaviness!!!!

We are closing in on the announcements for this years’ festival, but there’s still two more goodies to come.

The first one is SUMA, probably one of the heaviest, hardest hitting, monstrous entities in our entire scene. For anyone who has witnessed this beast of a live act, there’s no doubt who’s in charge. We’ve seen people passing out, lying unconscious on the floor, knocked out totally, of the sheer weight coming out of the PA. They play around with the heavy with the greatest of ease, adding details, odd rhythms and undeniable grooves like true masters

SUMA are no strangers to Høstsabbat, and it’s one of those bands we knew we had to invite back at some point. Having gained momentum ever since their latest visit, these fellas from Malmö, Sweden, will lay waste to all crossing their path.

This steamroller will leave you flat.

FESTIVAL TICKETS
http://bit.ly/HSfestivalpass

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST – HØSTSABBAT 2019
http://bit.ly/HS2019playlist

https://www.facebook.com/events/274561413173994/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Hexvessel, “Changeling” official video

Suma, The Order of Things (2016)

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Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

Pendejo on Thee Facebooks

Pendejo webstore

 

Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

Witch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Witch Hazel on Bandcamp

 

CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

CBBJ on Thee Facebooks

CBBJ on Bandcamp

 

Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

Seedium on Thee Facebooks

Seedium on Bandcamp

 

Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

Vorrh on Thee Facebooks

Vorrh on Bandcamp

 

Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

Lost Relics on Thee Facebooks

Lost Relics on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Bandcamp

 

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Electric Citizen Announce European & UK Touring; Playing Desertfest, Esbjerg Fuzztival, Muskelrock and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

electric citizen

Ohio heavy rockers Electric Citizen have been on the Desertfest bills for a while now, London, Berlin and New York, and it was known as well they’d be in Denmark for the Esbjerg Fuzztival, so it’s not really much of a surprise they’re stringing those appearances together with a tour, but, you know, it’s nice to have the wheres and whens on that actually happening. They’ll head abroad in time for a May 1 show in Bristol, UK, after hitting Psycho Smokeout in L.A. and the aforementioned Desertfest in NYC, and then continue to make their way onto mainland Europe after Desertfest London and go for the next month, finishing out in Copenhagen on June 1. There are some days off, as will happen, but it’s still a pretty significant tour, and course the band go supporting their third album, last year’s Helltown (review here), which came out as ever through RidingEasy Records.

The PR wire brought the awesome poster and dates accordingly:

electric citizen tour

Electric Citizen announce EU & UK tour dates, plus Psycho Smokeout 4/20 in L.A. and DesertFest NYC 4/27

Also includes DesertFest London, DesertFest Berlin

Electric Citizen announce UK & EU festival and headlining tour dates for Spring 2019 in support of their recently released third album Helltown (RidingEasy Records.) They kick off the overseas trek with performances at the inaugural Psycho Smokeout Festival in Los Angeles on April 20th and DesertFest in Brooklyn, NY on April 27th. Please see all dates below.

ELECTRIC CITIZEN TOUR 2019:
04/20 Los Angeles, CA @ Psycho Smokeout Festival
04/27 New York, NY @ DesertFest NYC
05/01 Bristol, UK @ The Lanes
05/02 Newcastle, UK @ Trillans
05/03 London, UK @ DesertFest London
05/04 Liege, BE @ La Zone
05/05 Berlin, DE @ DesertFest Berlin
05/08 Malmo, SE @ Plan B
05/09 Stockholm, SE @ Undergangen
05/10 Esbjerg, DK @ Esbjerg Fuzzfestival
05/11 Gothenburg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska
05/13 Oldenburg, DE @ MTS LP Store
05/16 Olten, CH @ Coq’D’Or
05/17 Munster, DE @ Rare Guitar
05/18 Cottbus, DE @ Zum Faulen August
05/22 Koln, DE @ MTC Club
05/23 Karlsruhe, DE @ Alte Hackerei
05/24 Innsbruck, AT @ PMK
05/25 Bolzano, IT @ Pippo Stage
05/26 Monastier di Treviso, IT @ Krach
05/27 Munich, DE @ Backstage
05/28 Vienna, AT @ Arena
05/29 Linz, AT @ Kapu
05/31 Alvesta, SE @ Muskelrock Festival
06/01 Copenhagen, DK @ Lygtens Kro

www.electriccitizenband.com
www.facebook.com/electriccitizen
www.twitter.com/electriccitizen
www.instagram.com/electriccitizenband
ridingeasyrecs.com

Electric Citizen, “Hide it in the Night” official video

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Abrahma Announce May 24 Release for In Time for the Last Rays of Light

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

abrahma

As it happens, I wrote the bio for Abrahma‘s upcoming third album, In Time for the Last Rays of Light, which will be out May 24 through Small Stone Records everywhere else and Deadlight Entertainment in the band’s native France. So yes, I’ve heard it. It is a darker affair than either of Abrahma‘s other two albums, but still carries the weight and impact that so typified 2016’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here). No question though that the context has shifted, and founding frontman Sébastien Bismuth talks about a bit of what that’s all about in the bio below, touching on inward and outward tumult of a kind that, hey, I get it. Like, a lot.

I’m going to try to get some coverage set up for this one, so I’ll say “more to come” and leave it at that. You’ll find the PR wire below, and the bio I wrote starts after the “–” in the second paragraph.

Dig:

abrahma in time for the last rays of light

ABRAHMA to release third album “In Time For The Last Rays Of Light” on May 24th through Small Stone Records

ABRAHMA’s third album “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” follows three tumultuous years of personal challenges and lineup changes. It is a chronicle of the ravages of coping with loss and mental illness, brought to bear with heavy and progressive songwriting, melodic catharsis and an impact that goes beyond the material itself.

— Produced and mixed at Orgone Studios by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost, Ghost, Candlemass), “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” follows 2015’s “Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird” and whether it is the stark chug and lumbering weight of “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 1: Isolation Ghosts” or the furious blast-beating in the prior “Lucidly Adrift,” its songs produce a depth of atmosphere that speaks to the soul that birthed them. A split with the prior lineup of the band brought the Rouen, France-based founding vocalist/guitarist Sébastien Bismuth into contact with local outfit Splendor Solis, whose members would soon be folded into the new incarnation of ABRAHMA. After many false starts, the band hit the studio in July 2018 and set to work on what is unmistakably their greatest accomplishment to-date: an album that copes with the depression that birthed it and soars hopefully above while reminding that the darkness beneath is ever-present.

“People do not take mental illness seriously,” says Bismuth. “People suffering from depression generally feel rejected, and it is not only a feeling. People that never gone through it generally do not really understand how hard it can be to live every day with this weight on your shoulders, all those questions going through your head.” Spanning genres and decades of influence, from the Bowie-ism of “…Last Epistle” to the gothic unfolding of closer “There Bears the Fruit of Deceit,” “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” speaks with raw honesty and lush craft to its challenges and realizations. In keeping with the album’s theme, a portion of the merch proceeds from ABRAHMA’s next tours will go to help those suffering from mental illness. “I decided to use this album has a medication against this depression and maybe help other people in this situation,” Bismuth recounts. “Each song explains a different side of it: loss of confidence, other’s critical looks, the impression of not having a place in this world.”

With front and back covers by famed French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883) and a greater expanse of sound than ABRAHMA has ever had before, “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” confronts its demons and offers a reminder that light exists in the first place. (Words by JJ Koczan for The Obelisk)

ABRAHMA “In Time For The Last Rays Of Light”
Out May 24th on Small Stone Records (world)
and Deadlight Entertainment (France)

TRACK LISTING :
1. Lost.Forever.
2. Lucidly Adrift
3. Eclipse of the Sane Pt.1: Isolation Ghosts
4. Dusk Contemplation…
5. …Last Epistle
6. Wander in Sedation
7. Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 2: Fiddler of the Bottle
8. There Bears the fruit of Deceit

Sébastien Bismuth – Vocals, Guitars
Florian Leguillon – Guitars, Vocals
Benoît Carel – Guitars, Synths & Effects
Romain Hauduc – Bass, Vocals
Baptiste Keriel – Drums, Vocals

www.abrahmamusic.net
www.facebook.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
www.twitter.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com

Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light teaser

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Ocean Districts Premiere “Funeral Parade” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ocean districts

More than seven decades later, humanity is still coming to grips with having split the atom. The capital-‘b’ Bomb and its literal and figurative fallout comprise the theme of Estonian instrumentalists Ocean Districts‘ self-released second album, Doomtowns. Like the prospects for humanity’s survival over the longer term, is something of a melancholy affair, but like a painting on a cave wall, its cry into the void would seem intended to endure past whichever of the various impending collapses we’re rightly terrified of this week. The video for “Funeral Parade,” which is the fourth of the five inclusions on the release, works with footage from the 1982 documentary The Atomic Cafe, which centers around the US governments’ efforts to downplay the effects of — as the Ferengi put it — irradiating our own planet, whether through propaganda or other means. You’ll hear references to “duck and cover” in “Funeral Parade.” My mother can tell you stories about doing drills in school hiding under her desk in case Russia dropped the Bomb.

Clearly, madness is nothing new.

But, like the 4.5 billion-year half-life of uranium 235, madness isn’t going anywhere. As might be inherent to an instrumental band, Ocean Districts never seem overly preachy or critical in their perspective — would be a challenge without lyrics — but certainly in “Funeral Parade” and the more languid “Survival City” before it, or opener “Doom Town” or the chug-and-drift of “The Trinity Gadget,” or the heavy post-rock wash of “Castle Bravo” that follows to close out, the message comes through plain nonetheless. It may not be the catastrophe du jour of our times — that’d be global warming; keep up — but it sure continues to be unfathomable by my little tiny brain how anyone ever thought introducing nuclear tests and, you know, bombs, into the planet’s biosphere was a good idea. Inquiring minds, devastated landscapes and billions of tumors want to know.

And by the way, I’m not trying to make light of nuclear weapons as a social issue. It’s fucking insane. I mean that. This month, my country was like, “Yeah whatever,” to an arms treaty with Russia. It’s not this shit went away when the “Cold War ended.” Tell that to MOABs in Iraq or any number of North Korean missile tests. Meanwhile, the singular shame of actually having dropped a bomb in an act of aggression — let alone two? Yeah, that’s something particularly American. The list goes, sadly, on.

But hey! Here’s a video premiere.

Have fun with it:

Ocean Districts, “Funeral Parade” official video premiere

Official music video for “Funeral Parade” featured on “Doomtowns” EP. Listen and buy: https://oceandistricts.bandcamp.com/

The track title “Funeral Parade” is a reference to Operation Plumbbob, a series of controversial nuclear tests conducted in 1957, at the Nevada Test Site, with the purpose of understanding the effects of a nuclear blast on civil and military properties, as well as on the average soldier on the battlefield. Conducted with the participation over 16,000 U.S. military personnel, the series released some 58,300 kilocuries of radioiodine into the atmosphere. Some of the studies done in its aftermath showed that exposure to radiation during the series was the cause of thousands of cases of thyroid cancers and leukemia, particularly among the military personnel involved.

Video was shot and edited by Martin Kaljuorg https://www.facebook.com/mkalvisuals/

All archive footage used can be seen in a 1982 documentary film Atomic Cafe.

Ocean Districts, Doomtowns (2018)

Ocean Districts on Thee Facebooks

Ocean Districts on Instagram

Ocean Districts on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Electric Octopus, Crypt Trip, Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Heavy Feather, Faith in Jane, The Mound Builders, Terras Paralelas, The Black Heart Death Cult, Roadog & Orbiter, Hhoogg

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day four of the six-dayer. Head’s a little reeling, but I’m not sure any more so than, say, last week at this time. I’d be more specific about that, but oddly enough, I don’t hook my brain up to medical scanners while doing reviews. Seems like an oversight on my part, now that I think about it. Ten years later and still learning something new! How about that internet, huh?

Since I don’t think I’ve said it in a couple days, I’ll remind you that the hope here is you find something you dig. There’s a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so that should at least make skimming through it fun if you go that route. Either way, thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Electric Octopus, Smile

Electric Octopus Smile

It’s been about two months since Electric Octopus posted Smile, so they’re about due for their next release. So, quick! Before this 82-minute collection of insta-chill jams is out of date, there’s still time to consider it their latest offering. Working as the four-piece of Tyrell Black and Dale Hughes — both of whom share bass and guitar duties — drummer Guy Hetherington and synthesist Stevie Lennox, the Belfast improv jammers rightfully commence with the 25-minute longest track (immediate points) “Abberation” (sic), which evolves and devolves along its course and winds up turning from a percussive jam to a guitar-led build up that still stays gloriously mellow even as it works its way out. You can almost hear the band moving from instrument to instrument, and that’s the point. The much shorter “Spiral,” “Dinner at Sea, for One” and closer “Mouseangelo” bring in a welcome bit of funk, “Moth Dust” explores minimalist reaches of guitar and ambient drumming, and “Hyperloop” digs into fuzz-soaked swirl before cleaning up its act in the last couple minutes. These cats j-a-m. May they do so into perpetuity.

Electric Octopus on Thee Facebooks

Electric Octopus on Bandcamp

 

Crypt Trip, Haze County

crypt trip haze county

Onto the best-albums-of-2019 list go San Marcos, Texas, trio Crypt Trip, who, sonically speaking, are way more Beto O’Rourke than Ted Cruz. The three-piece have way-way-upped the production value and general breadth from their 2018 Heavy Psych Sounds debut, Rootstock, and the clarity of purpose more than suits them as they touch on ’70s country jams and hard boogie and find a new melodic vocal confidence that speaks to guitarist Ryan Lee as a burgeoning frontman as well as the shredder panning channels in “To Be Whole.” Fortunately, he’s backed by bassist Sam Bryant and drummer Cameron Martin in the endeavor, and as ever, it’s the rhythm section that gives the “power trio” its power. Centerpiece “Free Rain” is a highlight, but so is the pedal steel of intro “Forward” and the later “Pastures” that precedes six-minute closer “Gotta Get Away,” which makes its transport by means of a hypnotic drum solo from Martin. Mark it a win and go to the show. That’s all you can do. Haze County is a blueprint for America’s answer to Europe’s classic heavy rock movement.

Crypt Trip on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Split Double EP

smokey mirror love gang split double ep

A bit of Tull as Love Gang‘s flute-inclusive opener “Can’t Seem to Win” skirts the line of the proggier end of ’70s worship. The Denver outfit and Dallas’ Smokey Mirror both present three tracks on Glory or Death RecordsSplit Double EP, and Love Gang back the leadoff with “Break Free” and “Lonely Man,” reveling in wall-o’-fuzz chicanery and organ-laced push between them, making their already unpredictable style less predictable, while Smokey Mirror kick off side B in particularly righteous fashion via the nine-minute “Sword and Scepter,” which steps forth to take ultra-Sabbathian ownership of the release even as the filthy tone of “Sucio y Desprolijo” and the loose-swinging Amplified Heat-style megashuffle of “A Thousand Days in the Desert” follow. Two bands in the process of finding their sound coming together to serve notice of ass-kickery present and future. If you can complain about that, you’re wrong.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Smokey Mirror on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records BigCartel store

 

Heavy Feather, Débris & Rubble

Heavy Feather Debris & Rubble

Very much a solid first album, Heavy Feather‘s 11-song Débris & Rubble lands at a run via The Sign Records and finds the Stockholm-based classic heavy blues rockers comporting with modern Euro retroism in grand fashion. At 41 minutes, it’s a little long for a classic-style LP if one measures by the eight-track/38-minute standard, but the four-piece fill that time with a varied take that basks in sing-along-ready hooks like those of post-intro opener “Where Did We Go,” the Rolling Stones-style strutter “Waited All My Life,” and the later “I Spend My Money Wrong,” which features not the first interplay of harmonica and lead guitar amid its insistent groove. Elsewhere, more mellow cuts like “Dreams,” or the slide-infused “Tell Me Your Tale” and the closing duo of the Zeppelinian “Please Don’t Leave” and the melancholy finisher “Whispering Things” assure Débris & Rubble never stays in one place too long, though one could say the same of the softshoe-ready boogie in “Hey There Mama” as well. On the one hand, they’re figuring it out. On the other, they’re figuring it out.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

Faith in Jane, Countryside

Faith in Jane Countryside

Five full-lengths deep into a tenure spanning a decade thus far, Faith in Jane have officially entered the running to be one of the best kept secrets of Maryland heavy. Their late-2018 live-recorded studio offering, Countryside, clocks in at just under an hour of organic tonality and performance, bringing a sharp presentation to the chemistry that’s taken hold among the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize, bassist Brendan Winston and drummer Alex Llewellyn, with Mize taking extended solos on the Wino model throughout early cuts “All is All” and “Mountain Lore” while the trio adds Appalachian grunge push to the Chesapeake’s flowing groove while building “Blues for Owsley” from acoustic strum to scorching cacophonous wash and rolling out the 9:48 “Hippy Nihilism” like the masters of the form they’re becoming. It’s not a minor undertaking in terms of runtime, but for those in on what these cats have been up to all the while, hard to imagine Countryside is seen as anything other than hospitable.

Faith in Jane on Thee Facebooks

Faith in Jane on Bandcamp

 

The Mound Builders, The Mound Builders

The Mound Builders The Mound Builders

Lafayette, Indiana’s The Mound Builders last year offered a redux of their 2014 album, Wabash War Machine (review here), but that was their last proper full-length. Their self-titled arrives as eight bruiser slabs of weighted sludge/groove metal, launching with its longest track (immediate points) in the 7:30 “Torchbearer,” before shifting into the outright screams-forward pummel of “Hair of the Dogma” and the likewise dry-throated “Separated from Youth.” By the time they get to the hardcore-punk-via-sludge of “Acid Slugs,” it’s not a little heavy. It’s a lot heavy. And it stays that way through the thrashing “Star City Massacre” and “Regolith,” hitting the brakes on “Broken Pillars” only to slam headfirst into closer “Vanished Frontier.” Five years later and they’re still way pissed off. So be it. The four-formerly-five-piece were never really all that gone, but they still seem to have packed an extended absence’s worth of aggro into their self-titled LP.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

 

Terras Paralelas, Entre Dois Mundos

TERRAS PARALELAS ENTRE DOIS MUNDOS

It’s a fluid balance between heavy rock and progressive metal Terras Paralelas make in the six inclusions on their debut full-length, Entre Dois Mundos. The Brazilian instrumentalist trio keep a foundation of metallic kickdrumming beneath “Do Abismo ao Triunfo,” and even the chugging in “Espirais e Labirintos” calls to mind some background in harder-hitting fare, but it’s set against a will toward semi-psychedelic exploration, making the giving the album a sense of refusing to play exclusively to one impulse. This proves a strength in the lengthier pieces that follow “Infinito Cósmico” and “Do Abismo ao Triunfo” at the outset, and as Terras Paralelas move from the mellower “Bom Presságio” and “Espirais e Labirintos” into the more spaciously post-rocking “Nossa Jornada Interior” and the nine-minute-plus prog-out title-track that closes by summarizing as much as pushing further outward, one is left wondering why such distinctions might matter in the first place. Kudos to the band for making them not.

Terras Paralelas on Thee Facebooks

Terras Paralelas on Bandcamp

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, The Black Heart Death Cult

the black heart death cult the black heart death cult

Though one wouldn’t accuse The Black Heart Death Cult of being the first cumbersomely-named psych-rocking band in the current wave originating in Melbourne, Australia, their self-titled debut is nonetheless a gorgeous shimmer of classic psychedelia, given tonal presence through guitar and bass, but conjuring an ethereal sensibility through the keys and far-back vocals like “She’s a Believer,” tapping alt-reality 1967 vibes there while fostering what I hear is called neo-psych but is really just kinda psych throughout the nodding meander of “Black Rainbow,” giving even the more weighted fuzz of “Aloha From Hell” and the distortion flood of “Davidian Dream Beam” a happier context. They cap with the marshmallowtron hallucinations of “We Love You” and thereby depart even the ground stepped on earlier in the sitar-laced “The Magic Lamp,” finding and losing and losing themselves in the drifting ether probably not to return until, you know, the next record. When it shows up, it will be greeted as a liberator.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records webstore

 

Orbiter & Roadog, Split

orbiter roadog split

I’m pretty sure the Sami who plays drums in Orbiter is the same dude playing bass in Roadog, but I could easily be wrong about that. Either way, the two Finnish cohort units make a fitting complement to each other on their two-songer 7″ single, which presents Orbiter‘s six-minute “Anthropocene” with the hard-driving title-track of Roadog‘s 2018 full-length, Reinventing the Wheels. The two tracks have a certain amount in common, mostly in the use of fuzz and some underlying desert influence, but it’s what they do with that that makes all the difference between them. Orbiter‘s track is spacier and echoing, where “Reinventing the Wheels” lands more straightforward in its three minutes, its motoring riff filled out by some effects but essentially manifest in dead-ahead push and lyrics about a motorcycle. They don’t reinvent the wheel, as it happens, and neither do Orbiter, but neither seems to want to do so either, and both bands are very clearly having a blast, so I’m not inclined to argue. Good fun and not a second of pretense on either side.


Orbiter on Thee Facebooks

Roadog on Thee Facebooks

 

Hhoogg, Earthling, Go Home!

hhoogg Earthling Go Home

Space is the place where you’ll find Boston improvisationalists Hhoogg, who extend their fun penchant for adding double letters to the leadoff “Ccoossmmooss” of their exclamatory second self-released full-length, Earthling, Go Home!, which brings forth seven tracks in a vinyl-ready 37 minutes and uses that opener also as its longest track (immediate points) to set a molten tone to the proceedings while subsequent vibes in “Rustic Alien Living” and the later, bass-heavy “Recalled to the Pyramids” range from the Hendrixian to the funkadelicness he helped inspire. With a centerpiece in “Star Wizard, Headless and Awake,” a relatively straightforward three-minute noodler, the four-piece choose to cap with “Infinitely Gone,” which feels as much like a statement of purpose and an aesthetic designation as a descriptor for what’s contained within. In truth, it’s a little under six minutes gone, but jams like these tend to beg for repeat listens anyway. There’s some growing to do, but the melding of their essential chemistry is in progress, and that’s what matters most. The rest is exploration, and they sound well up for it.

Hhoogg on Thee Facebooks

Hhoogg on Bandcamp

 

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