Tag Archives: Earthless

We need to talk about Earthless

Before I delve back into the Flaming Lips led misunderstood reconstruction of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, I’m gonna tell you that I have been obsessed by Earthless.  There have been a few times where I’m been consumed by music to a point where genuinely obsessive behaviour comes into play, but I can honestly say it’s been a few years since there was any of those sorts of shenanigans.

You know the shenanigans I’m talking about.  The looking in record stores in the hope that there’s a nice copy of that album you’re after sitting there.  Fitting in as many stores as you can.  Looking through the racks and crates a few times just to be sure you didn’t miss it.  If you live in Glasgow and the chances of finding a specific title are slim, you end up looking at retailers online.  Indie stores with an online presence.   Or discogs.   Flicking through every listing of the desired album.  Calculating costs.  Weighing up VG+ against NM and how much that means in monetary terms.  A sense of urgency around the buying, too.  That’s where I’m at with Earthless.

Y’see, Earthless take me somewhere else.  I connect with the flowing rhythms… the explosions and the shifts.  The guitar scorching and lighting up the skies like a solar flare – aurora borealis (or aurora australis), in more reflective moments.  I know that some have already said it, but it’s true that it’s like Hendrix jamming with Sabbath and Cream at times.

And the Hendrix here is Isaiah Mitchell.  He’s now one of my favourite guitar men.  His playing is intricate and full of controlled power.  Like Ryu’s fists.  Or even that Scarlet Witch, lass.  Man, it genuinely blows my mind.

I was chatting with a pal recently who is a big Rocket From The Crypt fan and I asked if he was into Earthless, cause, if he was, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t tell me about them.  Nope.  He wasn’t.

D: “Who are they? Why’d you ask?”
J: “Well, cause yir drummer guy is there”.
D: “Mario?  Is he?  I’ll need to check that out…  What are they like?”
J: “Holy scorched Earth, buddy!  They are incredible!!”

And he agreed and also mentioned how bloody awesome they guitaring is.  And, y’know, the musicianship from all the players is on a whole other level.  Lifting… powerful… intense… dynamic.  They play with confidence and a sun bleached swagger.  This, my friends, is psychedelic pyro-dynamic splendour.

The first album released in the time I’d call myself a fan was Black Heaven and I had that sucker pre-ordered.  It got it’s hooks into me quickly and is easily up there as my favourite of the year so far.  Mitchell’s vocals, which I heard on their take of the Groundhog’s Cherry Red, are fitting and not out of place.  They only add to that classic vibe.  However, as much as I like the album, I can’t stop listening to From The Ages and Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky.  I’d listened to them digitally (streaming) after reviews by two of my favourite pushers (yeah, you know who I’m looking at), but, after two years and then some months, I hadn’t gotten to buying anything yet.  Not until Black Heaven.  Then the floodgates opened.  New release enthusiasm.  Genuine obsessive behaviour took hold.  I got obsessive about every note on the albums I’d been listening to on and off and decided I was buying them.  Right now.  Or at least tried to.

From The Ages was easy to get a hold of.  The vinyl colour isn’t the easiest on the eye and there’s something about the contrast with the label that bugs me.  The colours just don’t work together.  But that’s not important… right?  Look at it, though?  It’s just a bit odd, eh?  Is it just me?  I’ll not say any more about it, but I do wish it was black vinyl.  The music, though?  Holy scorched Earth, peoples!!  Don’t just take my word for it, one of my favourite pushers gave it all the praise.

Rhythms of a Cosmic Sky, which I became familiar with after lego guy threw it on my radar thanks to his write up, has been a bit of a sucker to get my hands on.  Mostly cause I tried to find a copy at a reasonable price and, well, the streaming meant that I was managing to get a fix when I needed it.  Besides, I always found a way to pick up something else.  As the Earthless obsessed chap, I could have laughed with hysteria.

Anyhoo, I only just added it to the collection.  First of all, back in March when I ordered From The Ages, Amazon didn’t have it in stock, but I found it cheap on eBay.  4 weeks later and no LP, I contacted the seller and they said it’s likely been lost.  Money back.  Use that and add a few quid and order another via Discogs.  Only UK shop on there with it listed.  Again, a good price, so I was quite chuffed.  Later that day I get a message of apology, but the LP is no longer available and they hadn’t updated the inventory.  Gah.  Another listing on eBay.  Cheap.  Details suggest it’s the LP, but it has the CD track listing.  I enquire whether it’s CD or vinyl… the answer… we don’t know.  Huh?  But what’s this?  Another reasonably priced copy on Discogs… near mint… from Germany.  Why not?  I do all this in a matter of days.

The LP arrived today and, well, it’s not near mint as stated.  I can live with the few dinks on the sleeve, but the vinyl itself isn’t in the best shape.  The only thing missing is cobwebs.  Worry and internal dialogue.  “Lots of dust and suchlike and it looks like it’s groove deep, too.  Gah”.  I worry about that.  “I guess I clean it up, though”.  I worry.  “What if I don’t find one?” A search online and copies are more expensive.  Some beads of worry persperation trickle from my forehead.  Worry becomes frustration.  “Hopefully it plays fine, cause I can’t be fucked finding another copy.”

When I got home I took a nice clean cloth to it.  Looks like it cleaned up well… even got the shine back.

And yeah, there’s some of that comforting surface noise… but the cosmic noise is much preferred.

And I drift away.

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New Additions: Where’s the Danzig?

It was my Birthday at the end of March there and, naturally, some new records have somehow found their way into my collection (nestling snugly into the ‘need to listen’ pile).

I also decided to pick up an album that’s been on my list a wee while.

What are they?  It’s funny you should ask.

Rainer – Worried Spirits

Fire Records has been releasing Rainer’s albums at a bit of a snail’s pace, though they made some serious progress last year.  I had picked up Barefoot Rock a while back, but I’ve been waiting (im)patietly for my very favourite Rainer album to receive the vinyl release it deserves for a couple of years.  I had contacted Fire Records last summer to query whether it was on the cards and they didn’t let on that there were any imminent plans.  It was only via a vinyl group earlier in March that I learned it had been released… in December!!

Anyhoo, my wife picked it up for me and it was surprising to see that it’s on really lovely sun yellow vinyl.  This replaces an old Demon Records CD copy I had which was somehow misplaced or lost.  I love everything about this one and unreservedly so… from the front cover, the text, the album title, the song cycle.

My only gripe with the Fire reissue is that the track-listing on the back includes tracks that are available only via the download.  The release really could have benefited from a second slice of vinyl for the bonus cuts they’ve included.

Still, I’m not gonna complain, cause I have one of my absolute favourite albums and it sounds pretty brilliant.

These next two were purchased using a wee voucher I had got and they just arrived yesterday.

Earthless – From The Ages

Black Heaven has been on heavy rotation here and I’m on an Earthless kick (no bad thing).  I was looking for a copy of Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky on vinyl, but it was sold out and I thought I’d have a look for their last one instead, cause I wasn’t all that familiar with it cause I never really found the time to sit down and consume all 60+ minutes (30 minutes of that are the title track!).  I’ve yet to drop the needle on it, but I have been consuming all its enlightening glory via the instant download I’d received at the time of purchase and I’m looking forward to hearing how they split that title track!

Jeff Tweedy – Together At Last

This was a bit of a no-brainer, really (though I did ask JH if he’d heard it and if he’d recommend it).  It’s not often you see a record for less than a tenner, let alone one that was a) just released last year, b) by an artist you like a whole lot, and c) features a half dozen of your favourite tunes by that artist’s band.  Together At Last ticks all those boxes (or at least it did when I purchased it).  It’s basically Tweedy and his acoustic guitar performing tracks from his career (Golden Smog and Loose Fur, as well as Wilco).

Admittedly, I had been on the fence about this one, cause, well, I have the songs I really like and didn’t know what benefit having them again would be.  But this is pretty exceptional.  Intimate and fragile… and the versions of Via Chicago, Ashes Of American Flags, Muzzle of Bees, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart and I’m Always In Love are really pretty special.

Lastly, that album I finally decided it was time to pick up?

Screaming Trees – Last Words: The Final Recordings

Like a lot of records, this has been on my list for a long time.  That Mr. Yellowface guy kinda got me looking at copies online.  I spotted one for a tenner on eBay and thought “yeah, it’s time”.  There’s not much to look at – no liner notes or detailed credits, etc – but it’s a lovely slice of red vinyl (and the songs sound amazing).

And that’s it.

I reckon there’ll be something of a record buying break for a while as we weigh up life stuffs.

But I’ll definitely be writing stuff more often, though.

So, I guess I got to make some space…

I realised that I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I’ve just been a bit busy with some other stuff and I just can’t seem to find the time, or motivation, to get around to writing something here.  Truth be told, I’ve wondered whether or not just to quit posting, as I’d still feel part of the community; what with all the conversation off the back of interesting posts elsewhere.  But, y’know, here I am.

I recently bought some more of those nice ‘dust sleeves’ to put the vinyl in and I thought “maybe I’ll post a wee ‘here’s some new records’ type of post”.  I also spent a bit of time going through the collection.  I realised that I have a few of albums I don’t really bother with, cause I really kinda forgot that I had them.  There’s also a ton of stuff that I haven’t really gotten to yet… and there’s some stuff that I really should get to.

Anyhoo, what are the new additions?

Mythic Sunship – Upheaval

Yup, it’s that El Paraiso lot again.  Some incredible stuff on this one (naturally) and seriously, this is the soundtrack to Kaiju and Jaeger’s flattening cities.  I suggested this one to a pal of mine and he said it reminded him of yon Godspeed You! Black Emperor lot.  I don’t get that myself, right enough, but that should please some of you Canadialanders.

Walking Papers – WP2

As much as I loved the first Walking Papers album, this took me by surprise.  It’s really pretty brilliant… the sound of that first album replaced with all sorts of one-two punches.  And they roll with them.  It’s great hearing Duff McKagen’s playing on this kind of album and it highlights just how good that guy is.  Not just cause he’s Duff McKagen, but cause he’s one of the best bass players out there.  Fact.  As well as having some excellent lyrics (again) Angell’s playing is focussed and intense and Barrett Martin, as always, lays down some incredible percussion.  I’m really hoping the GN’R reunion doesn’t spell the end for these guys, cause it sounds like they’re just getting started.

Sacri Cuori – Douglas & Dawn / Rosario

Two Sacri Cuori releases that I didn’t previously own on vinyl.  Only cause I wasn’t vinyl daft at the time and instead opted for the smaller, compact disc variety.  Anyhoo, I found these cheap and I figured now was the time to buy them, as Sacri Cuori are brilliant and, regardless of how much I like them, I just keep liking them even more.  Although both albums are different sonically and texturally, they’re unmistakably the work of Antonio Gramentieri.  Plus, the Rosario cover was always one of the most beautiful looking in my CD collection.

Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance

I don’t think I’ve ever really spoke much about the Drive-By Truckers.  They’re a ridiculously talented bunch of songwriters and we’ve obvioulsy been seeing that over the last few years with Jason Isbell’s solo stuff.  Well, Patterson Hood has a couple, too.  The last of which was this one.  And it’s brilliant.  I dare say I love it more than Isbell’s stuff… but they’re different in subtle ways.  Anyhoo, the Isbell praise got me thinking how I’d love to own this one on vinyl.  I happened to find a copy cheap.  So here it is.

Blind Melon – Soup

Quite possibly my favourite purchase this year so far.  I was delighted to see this was reissued fairly recently, as I’ve been waiting for it since the reissue of the debut a few years back.  Turns out that it was reissued by not one, but two labels within months of each other.  I opted for the slightly more expensive remastered Analog Spark release over the Music On Vinyl one, cause I had read such good things about it.  I ordered from a US based seller on Discogs (with very, very reasonable postage costs) so it took a few weeks for it to arrive.  As you can imagine, I was pretty excited when it did, but I was a bit disappointed by some tearing on the front cover.  I hummed and hawed about sending it back (helluva wait, copies now more expensive), but the offer of a part refund, meant that all in all it cost me £14 and change.  How does it sound?  Great.  Genuinely pretty brilliant.

Damien Jurado – Where Shall You Take Me?

This is the 10th Anniversary Edition of my favourite Jurado album.  This 2 LP set includes some bonus material (a handful of reel to reel demos and the Just In Time For Something EP that was never made available on vinyl) and, while I’m not sure how often the second slice of vinyl will be played, I can tell you that the main album has already received a couple of spins.  This also happens to be an album that my wife is fond of, too… so it was extra special adding this one to the collection.

Blind Melon – Tones of Home EP

This was a surprising gift from my pal.  The second side includes very different tracks than advertised, and as much as I was looking forward to hearing the live version of Drive, I’m happy with the alternatives (a live version of Time – likely recorded at The Ritz in 1992 – and the unreleased Wooh D.O.G).

Earthless – Black Heaven

The (very early) contender for album of the year.  It’s like Black Sabbath meets The Black Crowes.  Can you imagine that?  It’s one that really gets its hooks in you and I dare say it will win them some new fans.  As I said elsewhere, there are plenty vocals, but the guitars still scorch the Earth.

As always, I’ll have plenty more to say about these when I get the chance.  Feel free to let me know whether you have any of them, dig them / don’t dig them, and tell me what the Hell you’ve been buying and gotten excited about recently.