Talking Book – Talking Book II (Koolarrow Records, 24 April 2020)
Good day, loyal readers. Hope you all are still doing well, trying your best to stay safe and sane.
Today I’ll be sharing something that very much falls outside the standard delineation of purpose for this website: not “metal,” nor “other heavy music,” and debatable whether this would even exactly qualify (under some of the more conservative definitions) as “music.”
Talking Book began nearly ten years ago when the owners of two record labels known for their diverse and eclectic international line-ups (Koolarrow Records‘ Billy Gould and Gigante Sound‘s Jared Blum) came together to collaborate on the album The Talking Book.
Somehow, that one must have escaped my attention when it was released back in 2011 — which is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that I literally signed up for Twitter in order to follow Mr. Gould back in like 2009 when rumors were running rampant about another of his musical projects possibly reuniting, and it was said that a certain bassist and founding member’s Twitter feed would be a reliable source of information about that.
Anyway, since at time the duo were joined by Gigante Sound co-conspirator Dominic Cramp, and many years later they finally got around to recording a follow-up — which Koolarrow released nearly three weeks ago.
Well, this past August the New Englanders put together a follow-up LP called Ascendant. Somehow that fact had escaped my attention until nearly the end of the year, but I finally got my hands on a copy in December. Right while I was in the middle of putting together my “Top 19 of 2019” list, in fact, which turned out to be fortuitous timing: upon initial perusal it became immediately apparent that this high-quality record belonged among those ranks.
And at this very moment, PwD are engaged in a tour that will take them out to the American west coast and back, throughout most of February. In fact, the tour officially kicked off on Saturday the 1st with a show in their hometown of Easthampton (MA), and the westward push continues tonight (Monday the 3rd) in Kentucky.
Below we will delve into the new album itself, but below that you will find a list of engagements where folks may have the opportunity to witness the band performing live. And for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to be near one of these scheduled stops (which includes practically the entire eastern time zone, plus of course all of you who live in other countries), at least there’s the option to listen to the recorded version of the band — and to follow them on various social media. Which is highly recommended, as they spend a lot of time sharing crazy science or space-related news, and also they frequently post about literal problems with literal draconianism. Get on board!
So we’ve brought a couple two-track albums to your attention recently, which we hope you’ve enjoyed. For a change of pace, today we present a one-track album for your listening pleasure.
That one track, “Spasm of Light,” is an incredibly dense wall of black metal noise, nearly thirty-four minutes long. And reportedly the whole thing was recorded live in a single partially-improvised session. I will try to take at least some time talking about the band’s sound as a whole, rather than just spending 500 words gushing about the incredible amount of stamina it must take for a drummer to plow through such an intense marathon. But seriously.
Heron – A Low Winter’s Sun (Sludgelord Records, 13 April 2018)
Ever notice how many really great bands there are, who are named after birds? I mean, just off the top of my head: Vulture, Cormorant, Mockingbird, Wren… and I guess to a lesser extent, Counting Crows? Anyway, it’s time to add Vancouver (BC)’s Heron to that list.
Surprisingly graceful for their size, as well as extremely stealthy and patient hunters, the heron is already no stranger to cover art (both dead and alive*), so it totally makes sense for a metal band to use that name. Just released yesterday, Heron‘s debut album is one of the first few put out by the relatively new Sludgelord Records, and it’s one I’d highly recommend you check out.
Those answers can be found below, so go check them out. The tour continues TONIGHT (25 July) in Brooklyn, hitting stops in Connecticut, Maryland, and New York before closing out the week in Pittsburgh (Howlers in Bloomfield) on Saturday. Then starting next month, Mosley will be reintroducing himself all over the country — see the updated post for the latest dates (now running through November); at least a dozen more shows have been added since it was first published!
I think it would be safe to say that it’s not a normal trend for bands to grow in popularity after a significant line-up change, especially when it comes to a shift in the role of lead vocalist. Even more rare would be the case where a band goes on to achieve a global level of mega-stardom, seemingly overnight, but it has happened a few times throughout music history. And each time, there are invariably legions of die-hard fans of the original configuration — armed with countless reasons why Killers or The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was the band’s crowning achievement.
And frankly, “it’s just a difference of opinion“; what rational basis for argument could there really be regarding one’s musical preferences? Likewise, any discussion of Faith No More will immediately attract somebody who asserts that band’s best output was on its first two albums — 1985’s We Care a Lot and 1987’s Introduce Yourself, and they will never tire of explaining why the vocalist of those early years, Chuck Mosley, was preferable in every way to his (now) more well-known successor.
While I won’t be taking this opportunity to weigh in definitively on that argument — my personal obsession with that band has always been based less on the vocals than on most of the other elements anyhow — I will certainly agree that the band’s current singer is generally overrated every bit as much as Mr. Mosley‘s earlier contributions are perpetually underrated. After all, there’s no way to deny the band’s gigantic breakout moment — the one thing your average person-on-the-street will likely remember about the band, if anything at all — was almost entirely based on the vocal performances of previous recordings, most particularly the band’s first semi-big hit single.
Anyway, all of this is actually leading up to a point, which is that Chuck Mosley, that much-beloved former Faith No More vocalist, who went on to front Bad Brains for a while in the early ’90s before venturing off as a solo artist (sometimes under his own name and sometimes in conjunction with his band V.U.A.) with works like Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food and last year’s compendium Demos for Sale, now finds himself touring all across America — starting this weekend and lasting well past the end of the summer (at least)! Dozens of shows have already been announced, and I’ve got a listing of all the most current information right here. (And the official word is that there will be more announcements forthcoming, so keep checking back if you don’t see your city listed yet!)
Boss Keloid – Herb Your Enthusiasm (Black Bow Records, 08 April 2016)
Well it’s Thursday now, which means it’s almost Friday, which means the weekend is almost here, so I guess that’s a good thing, right? I dunno. I’ve been so tired all week, it’s tough to feel excited about anything. Although — again, tomorrow is Friday, and we’re now finding ourselves coming into what’s traditionally one of the biggest times of the year in terms of new music getting released. Which means a bunch of stuff will be coming out tomorrow (just as it has for the past couple of weeks and will over the next several). So at least there’s that.
I totally missed out on getting anything published here yesterday, due to some super lame crap that kept me busy all day, which means we’re already behind schedule in terms of what I wanted to be able to share with you people this week. So probably it’s about time to quit rambling and get straight to the music, right?
Problem with Dragons – Starquake (self-released, 10 March 2015)
Brujas del Sol – Starquake (H42 Records, 14 December 2015)
So within the last year, something kind of strange has happened: two different and (as far as I know) completely unrelated bands, both of them from the northeastern United States, have each contacted me to check out their new album (one was in the spring and the other at the end of the year). Both of these happened to be bands I’d heard before and already liked — in fact, for one of them I had already written about their previous album. The unusual part was that both of these new releases happened to be named Starquake.
Now, that’s certainly not impossible — I mean, thousands of bands put out new stuff every year, and they all need to come up with song and album titles, so I’m sure there is a lot of repetition out there. Maybe you remember, back in 2011, there was a ton of hype surrounding an album called Path of Totality, considered by many to have been one of that year’s finest metal releases, and then a few months later a terrible (although significantly more famous) band did a thing called The Path of Totality?
Surely that sort of thing happens a lot, but still I thought this pair of Starquakes was an interesting coincidence. As it turns out, both of them sound really good too, so I’d like to share them with you now.
It had been rumored and speculated about ever since the band first announced that they were reuniting several years ago, but early last month it became 100% official: for the second time in less than a year, one of my favorite bands ever will be releasing a new album for the first time since I was in high school. Of course this is exciting news (that, until about five or six years ago, I would never have guessed would ever be happening again), and — with some amount of trepidation — I’m really trying to be optimistic about it. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.
By this point, I’m assuming any of you who would care at all about this band’s upcoming seventh album have already seen most of the information currently available — and probably even listened to one of the two pre-released singles that have come out so far. So I’m not really intending (or expecting) to inform anybody here. Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to share an anecdotal description of my own discovery of the band, dating back multiple decades; perhaps to offer a little bit of insight into myself as a writer and a fan. I don’t know whether anyone will actually care about any of this, but considering how influential this was in my formative music-listening years, I felt like I ought to take the time to write it.
Hey folks — a very Happy (Belated) New Year to all of you! 2013 definitely turned out to be an interesting year for me, with lots of big changes, new projects, new responsibilities, etc., but an unfortunate side-effect of some of that was (as you’ve surely noticed) that the amount of time I’d been spending writing really tapered off as the year went on, to the point where I didn’t post
anything here for the last few months! Well, as you may have seen, I’ve started writing reviews of some new 2014 releases — and as time allows I promise I will also be sharing plenty of older stuff I’ve missed writing about, because believe me there has been a TON worth sharing!
But more on that later. As I started doing last year, I’ve once again put together a collection of various people’s “best of” lists from 2013. Admittedly I sort of got a late start on this (I didn’t even put out the open invitation until after most websites had already finished with publishing all their year-end stuff), but several people have answered the call and contributed some really interesting lists that you’ll want to check out…