Cold Blue Mountain – Cold Blue Mountain (2013) and Old Blood (2014)

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Cold Blue MountainCold Blue Mountain (Gogmagogical Records/Vulture Print, 19 April 2013)

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Cold Blue MountainOld Blood (Halo of Flies, 07 October 2014)

 

Well, it finally happened. I mean, sure, it was inevitable, but still. In my email right at this moment, I’ve got my first promo copy of an album scheduled for a January 2015 release. So that’s a clear sign — in case the incessant marching past of the days on the calendar (into November now!) wasn’t enough of a clue — that this year is drawing swiftly to a close.

Almost three weeks ago, incidentally, this website hit another anniversary: we’re now entering year #4. I guess that’s kind of cool, but at the same time, that means I’ve been accumulating various music that has caught my attention and that I feel is worth sharing with you folks, from 2011 to the present. Starting to receive material for next year just means that now I’ll have stuff from five different years to write about. Yikes.

The highest priority for me, right now, is knocking out the rest of the reviews from my best of 2013 list, while also trying to stay on top of some of the current year’s best releases — so that I’m not quite so far behind when it comes time to put together the 2014 list. Today I’m going to address both of those concerns, as I write about northern California’s Cold Blue Mountain: their self-titled debut effort ranked in the top half of last year’s best albums (in my opinion), while the follow-up from last month, Old Blood, is definitely among the better records I’ve heard so far this year. Both are available now, and either one comes highly, highly recommended.

 

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Brujas del Sol – Moonliner (2013)

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Brujas del SolMoonliner (Devouter Records, 15 April 2013)

 

Distraction. Diversion. An escape. A feeling of catharsis. These are things we all need from time to time, regardless of whether we find the relief through alcohol or drugs or bath products. For me personally, and I suspect for a lot of you out there, I find the best way to shut out the rest of the world and temporarily forget about my issues is to put on a pair of headphones and get swept away by some music.

I started putting together this article about Columbus, Ohio’s Brujas del Sol and their album Moonliner last week, and have been trying to work on it for several days, but… well, shit happens. Work is extra busy sometimes, government agencies do everything they can to avoid helping you when you call them about problems you’re having (especially when those problems are their fault), you know. That old chestnut. But naturally, you haven’t come here to read about any of that, so I’ll just skip ahead to the good part. An excellent album (definitely one of my favorites from last year) that truly lends itself to getting lost in…

 

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Forest of Tygers – Bruises (2014)

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Forest of TygersBruises (29 April 2014, Primitive Violence [cassette] / Acteon [CD/digital])

 

Hey there, ladies and gentlemen (and whomever else might be lurking out there reading this). Welcome to a new month! It’s strange: this week is almost over already, and I still feel like I’m trying to recover from last weekend. It was packed full of running around — for example, to the hospital to visit our cousin’s newborn triplets, and to a friend’s wedding — and a few late nights, between the wedding and my band playing our first show in over seven months(!) which was pretty cool. But yeah, just trying to get back into the swing of things — not to mention now we’ll need to be preparing for our next show, which as I mentioned last week would be on October 10th when Black Tar Prophet, the sludgy, noisy duo from Nashville, come to town.

Well. Today I’ve got a treat for you, because we’re going to talk about another great two-piece band: Forest of Tygers, which consists of guitarist Jim Valosik and drummer Rachel Valosik. Just like their fellow Nashvillains BTP, FOT have also put out a new release back in the spring of this year, the Bruises EP. Although just four tracks long, this debut is crushing, and just the right amount of nasty, and serves as an excellent introduction to this husband-and-wife team.

 

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Fen – Dustwalker (2013)

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FenDustwalker (Code666, 21 January 2013)

 

Hey, people. It’s time once again to take a little stroll back in time — all the way to last year. I am determined to finish reviewing everything on my top albums of 2013 list before the end of 2014, and with this one I’m publishing today, I’ll officially reach the halfway point! No worries, there are still over three months for me to work through the rest of these (while still somehow trying to keep up with newer stuff, too). Oh well, I’ll get there eventually (hopefully). It just gets kind of frustrating sometimes, especially when bands keep putting out newer stuff faster than I can keep up with them — as is the case with UK atmospheric/progressive black metal band Fen (not to be confused with the Canadian prog-rock band of the same name). They’ve just announced that their fourth LP Carrion Skies will be coming out this November through Code666, which is exciting news for sure, but first I need to share their awesome THIRD album Dustwalker with you!

I publicized some of the details about this album when they were first announced, nearly two years ago, and I have been really enjoying listening to it ever since it was released (about three months after that). I’d say it’s about time I got around to following up and writing about the album itself!

 

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Black Tar Prophet – Deafen (2014)

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Black Tar ProphetDeafen (Domestic Genocide Records, 22 April 2014)

 

Hey, folks. How’s it going? I’ve got some more music here I’d like to share with you. I think you’re going to like it.

A lot of times when I write about a band, you may have noticed I will include some kind of anecdote about how I first heard about them — whether I’d seen them perform live at some point, or sometimes it’s someone I get introduced to through another website or another band. But the vast majority of the stuff I have here to write about came to me as the result of being contacted by either the band themselves, or their record label, or the PR person who represents the band or label. I get a TON of stuff emailed to me — seriously — and it can sometimes be a bit taxing to sort through it all. But in the end it’s completely worth it, because I’ve discovered some amazing stuff this way that might not have come to my attention otherwise. In fact, some of the bands I would consider to be among my favorites to listen to (not even exaggerating) were ones I had never heard of until I’d been contacted by their label or PR company.

For this reason, I make it a point to listen to absolutely everything that anyone sends me. Because there’s no way of knowing whether something might end up surprising me and being awesome. In fact, I go into every new album with as little knowledge as possible, and with the hopes that it’ll be something that completely blows me away. Of course, this leaves me feeling pretty disappointed much of the time, but occasionally I come across some real gems. When I do, that’s when I generally will go back to the original email (and then Facebook or Bandcamp or the band’s own website, wherever they have some sort of online presence) to learn more about the band — such as where they’re from and a whatever history I can learn about them.

This is sort of what happened when I first heard Black Tar Prophet‘s new album Deafen, which came out earlier this year. When I started listening, I knew nothing about the band other than their name, but before I reached the end of the first song, I was already rushing back to find that email, to see where these guys were located — and not just from curiosity. This time, I needed to know how close to here (Pittsburgh) they lived, so I could gauge the chances of them ever playing in this area. Once I found out they were from relatively nearby (Tennessee, which is just three states away, or about 8-9 hours driving), I immediately started considering the possibility that they could someday be on tour somewhere in this direction, and furthermore I decided that if this happened, I needed to get them a show here in town, and that my own band Last should open for them.

Well… I’m very excited to tell you that in just a couple of weeks, both of those things will be coming true! This instrumental heavy sludge/noise duo will be hitting the road in October, and I’ll include all the details about that right after I’ve told you some more about this album that had piqued my interest so much when I first heard it…

 

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Details of NEW Pink Floyd Album Have Been OFFICIALLY Announced!

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Rumors have been flying around for the past few months, as some details had “accidentally” been released earlier this summer. But today, the legendary psychedelic/classic rock band Pink Floyd has announced that their new album The Endless River will be available for pre-order.

 

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Recreant – Still Burn (2014)

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RecreantStill Burn (Halo of Flies, 02 September 2014)

 

Until sometime last summer, there used to be a house out in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Well, actually I suppose the house is still there. But previously it had been the home of a couple friends, who (at the time) had been members of a few local bands including Cerebral Apophysis and Old Man of the Mountain. This little urban bungalow was referred to as the Gopher Hole, and it was here (specifically, in one small room which adjoined the kitchen) that a great many DIY shows were held, which featured a huge assortment of local and nationally touring bands.

At one such event, back in April 2013, my wife and I had dropped by to see local hardcore sensation Meth Quarry, and we also got to check out the grindy-screamy bass/drums duo Shiff. Later that evening a band from Florida, whom I’d never heard before, called Recreant was supposed to play, but unfortunately we had a prior engagement and had to leave the show early. While we were there, though, we briefly met some of the members of the touring band, who seemed like really nice people. Half based on that, half based the fact that it had some really sweet artwork, we decided to buy a copy of the record they had for sale. The idea was, it’s nice to help out bands on tour — especially when they’re playing a free DIY show — and if it wasn’t very good, well, we know enough people who collect vinyl and surely we could find a good home for it.

Well. The next day I took that LP with its Crass-inspired logo out of the sleeve (it turns out, it was housed in a recycled old album cover which had been turned outside-in, re-glued, and with the band’s artwork screenprinted on the new blank front), and decided to give it a spin. As I recall, it took less than twenty seconds to realize there would be no need to worry about finding someone else to adopt the record: this was some pretty incredible stuff. (You can check it out right here.)

So anyway, fast forward a bit, and now earlier this month, the band has just put out another record — this one through the Halo of Flies label. It’s awesome, too. They’re on the road again, in the middle of a huge cross-country tour. For months I’ve been looking forward to their return to Pittsburgh (which will be tomorrow night!), but I’ve got the full list of remaining dates here. I’ll share them with you after I talk a little bit more about the new album Still Burn.

 

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