I had a number of influences on this one but this is essentially my take on a “Western” soundtrack.  Dylan Carlson makes appearances throughout as does sound clips from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.  Female vocalists and sprawling compositions from some of my favorite groups are also a focus.  I’ve seen Dylan play before with his band, Earth and he has been a major influence in me picking up guitar again.  I’ve also been on a McCarthy kick lately.

Enjoy, partner.

-Ben

Conan+Serial Hawk Tour.

January 27, 2016

So it’s been business as usual at the lair lately, which means 12 hour days on the regular and extra projects to keep me busy.  But things are honestly going great.  February will be a good one for us.  First off, Big Caine Wilkes will be starting off the month with a seminar at our gym on the 7th.  Yup, the strongest lifter in the country, right here in Sacramento.  E-mail me if you want in.  I’ve still got spots left.  bclaridad16@gmail.com

Then after that, Elle and I will be heading off to Philly for JR Nationals.  Her training has been going very well and we’re ALL excited to see how she does on the big stage.  She just took her first trip to Cal Strength last Friday and walked out with a 95kg clean and jerk PR.

I’m still eliminating tracks off of my favorite for 2015 playlist but in the meantime check out this thing that I’m very excited about.  This is a new track off Conan’s album, Revengeance, to be released this month.

Doom. Yes.  Blast beats.  Also yes.

Here’s an interview with them that I stole off of an event Facebook page. You can also stream the album there.

heavy

Honestly a lot of their earlier material was just TOO downtuned and heavy for me.  I know how that sounds.  But yes, it was just too heavy, man.  This track seems like a huge step forward on all fronts.  I am now SUPER excited to see them play with Serial Hawk who you guys already know am a huge fan of.

Check to see if these dudes are playing in a town near you.  I guarantee they would be worth the trip.

2015 Wrap Up Video.

January 17, 2016

Who else listens to this album once every couple of months to feel all the feels?

I’m a lucky man.  The name, “Occam Athletics” came to me as I was taking Biomechanics in College.  I think this was in 2011 or 2012.  The idea became a dream and the dream became a reality.  I owe it all to my team, my gang of bloodthirsty pirates, my yamdancers. I love you guys.

Trust the process.

-Ben

So I’m still a ways out from finishing my Favorite tracks of 2K15 list. I still have over 50 tracks that I need to trim down to 20. I figured i’d do this list to balance out the representation in track choices. Slow and heavy music has easily been my most digested music choice since 2010. It’s also the type of music that I’m most likely to listen to in an album format from start to finish. Here’s a list of my favorite releases this year covering doom, stoner, psychedelic and proto-metal. I’m not big on classifying sub-genres and I’m sure at least some of these groups are the same way so the only requirements as far as actual sounds is the album has to be SLOW or HEAVY or TRIPS YOU OUT, MAN. Or JAMMY or MAKES YOU LOSE TRACK OF WHAT DAY/YEAR it is. Also, another requirement is that I had to purchase the whole album. This takes off a good bunch of my list of favorite tracks so I can have a more balanced representation, though some groups from this list will be on the next. Hey, man. They’re my lists. I can do what I want.

The List:
1) UN-The Tomb of All Things. Did you dig Pallbearer in 2012? Yeah, me too. Were you wishing there were more groups out there that had those triumphant passages done slower than a cold molasses jar tipped on it’s side? Were you wishing it was just a little bit HEAVIER? If so, just buy this. Don’t ask any more of yourself. Stop reading this paragraph and buy it. Do it. Right now.

I know that this being at the top of my list is kind of like cheating because I’m still in the honeymoon phase with it (released in December). But I can’t help it. The riffs are too massive. The effects are so tasteful. I even love the cookie monster vocals mixed with the straight up YELLING. This is a good one to introduce to your friends if they dug Pallbearer or Pilgrim.

2) All Them Witches-Dying Surfer Meets His Maker. Least heavy album on the list. It’s not heavy at all actually. Well, it’s heavy in that dark, jammy folk sort of way. I guess this whole thing was recorded in a cabin somewhere so of course I ate that shit up. But this is legit my favorite album released this year across all genres. Best consumed while making art, working or otherwise being creative. The sequencing from track to track is fantastic.

3) Spelljammer-Ancient of Days. Massive riffs abound, hashishian dragon riding astronaut. One look at the cover art and you know what you’re getting yourself into.

I mean... LOOK at that.

I mean… LOOK at that.

4) Serial Hawk-Searching for Light. This band is so goddamn sick. The recording almost catches how massive their sound actually is in real life. Almost.

5) CHRCH-Unanswered Hymns. Sorry I’m not sorry. These hometown homies get a top placing on my list and I don’t care how not cool that makes me. I think I literally saw these guys (and girl) play like 7 times this past year; a lot of the time because they were opening up for a bigger band rolling through town. So I’ve literally heard the album several times over before I bought the thing. And it’s STILL good. Chris (guitar) has been killing it with booking a lot of really great shows in Sacramento. I’m thankful he’s so good at his job so I have something to do after I get off work at like 9 every night.

6) Lament Cityscape-The Torn. I was not aware of these guys till I saw them live. I’d advise you to see them as well. And I advise you to wear earplugs while doing so. Legit loudest show I saw this year. The album as a whole is fantastic. Very dark. Very heavy. Atmospheric during some passages but they never stray too far away from a nice groove. I had this on while I was driving to Reno in a snowstorm and it was terrifying.

7) Goya-Obelisk. I legit thought I was listening to Electric Wizard when I first heard this thing. But not like in a bad way because Electric Wizard hasn’t done anything I’ve been interested in since their very early material. These guys carry on the torch to a new generation of dirtbags. And they do it with less HP Lovecraft Shtick and more melody.

8) Graveyard-Innocence and Decadence. Yes, I know. Another Proto-metal band. I just think they do it better than the others. This album in one word is very FUN. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you. A good pick for fans of Kadavar or Ghost who also release some good sounds this year.

One of my top 20 favorite tracks this year.

9) Acid King-Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. One of the originals from the 90’s stoner genre and SF locals GET THE BAND BACK TOGETHER and release a home run.

hqdefault

Lori.

10) White Dwarf-ISM Demo. Yeah, I know it’s a demo. I know it’s free. But I listened to it a lot and it’s good. Leave me alone.

Download this.

Honorable mentions:

11) Dopethrone-Hochelaga. This shit is just straight up evil. Contains one of the only tracks that could be considered a hit single out of all these albums; Scum Fuck Blues. “Smoke, drink, die.” Really makes you think, ya’know?

Def on my top 20 tracks of the year list.  Check out this very NSFW music video.

12) Monolord-Vaenir. Your friend wants to know what “doom” sounds like. You could go with the tried and true staples. Or just show him this. That fuzz on that bass tho. Just evil sounding.

13) Trapped Within Burning Machinery-The Filth Element. I should really leave it at this is a FIFTH ELEMENT CONCEPT ALBUM and leave it at that. Actually I think I will. It’s pretty good though. Check it out.

14) Weedeater-Goliathan. My favorite band to see live.

Dixie Dave is a personal hero of mine.

Dixie Dave is a personal hero of mine.

15) High on Fire-Luminiferous. Because Matt Pike being Matt Pike.

Young Matt Pike.

Young Matt Pike.

 

So I leveled up my future ex-husband status this weekend by being equal parts handy and completely absorbed by my hobbies.

DCIM100GOPRO

“Sorry honey, I could’ve made you a new dining room table to eat at by yourself, but I made a new pool table for me and my buddies instead.”

This WAS an old Peavy Valveking 4×12 cab.  This is an economy model to begin with but I had researched enough to know that I was primarily looking for good wood and didn’t necessarily need any other quality components since I’d be replacing them all anyways.  Really cheap cabs are made of particle board and the most expensive boutique cabs are anywhere from 11-13 ply plywood.  This one is somewhere in the middle being composed of 3/4 inch birch plywood for the important panels (like the one you hang your speakers from) and 1/2 inch plywood on the sides (which is still more than strong enough for my purposes.

stripping cab

Me. My knife. My mitts.

I made the trip to Oakland and picked this up for 100 bucks.  The tolex was in pretty mad shape (which was what I was looking for) but the construction seemed solid and the grill cloth had minimal wear.  I’m actually lucky about the grill cloth.  I HAD planned on replacing it but upon taking the cab apart, I realized that would add like another 5 steps due to the construction of the cab.  You’d basically have to take the whole thing apart just to get the grill in and out.  I decided to un-screw it and leave it in there so I could refinish the whole thing but the original grill remains.  After I put the thing back together, I actually kind of dug how you could see some years on it.  The wood by itself has all these wonderful little imperfections so I’m glad that the grill cloth has the years to match.

DCIM100GOPRO

Model 001.  Going to a plastic shop this week to get a custom grill badge made.

The cab came loaded with the stock speakers which looked completely fine but my original intent was to load the cab with some totally BROOTAL Ted Weber TONECVLT speakers so I’ll probably throw these on Craigslist and get a few bucks outta them.

The Tolex came off pretty easily with just a knife and my mitts.  Taking the whole thing apart was a pretty easy affair as well.  I’d say altogether the most time consuming part of the process was sanding it down so I could refinish the wood.  The adhesive residue left by the tolex was a bitch to get through but I threw on Dopesmoker and Earth-Hex;or printing in the Infernal Method and it actually turned into a very meditative and rewarding process.

I’d never refinished wood before but it was a pretty no-brainer process as well.  I went with a DEEP . . . RICH . . . (Sniff) . . . Mahogany color.  3 coats of that followed by 3 coats of heavy duty polyurethane finish.  The final product is better than I could’ve imagined.  You can see the age of the wood and imagine how many house shows that the strait edge hardcore dude played on it throughout Oakland.

I may eventually replace the castors to something a little bit more trustworthy.  The new heavy duty wiring harness is on it’s way and I’ll eventually get those new SICK AND BROOTAL speakers.  I’m going to have all my lifters sign the inside of the cab this week as a sort of time capsule; except one that we can listen to.  And listen we will.  I’m planning on keeping it in the lair and hooking it up to the PA for a major upgrade to our current stereo.  Trolling opportunities are numerous including pinch harmonics after I go for a pun or riffing/headbanging in my lifter’s line of sight during 90% attempts.

 

DCIM100GOPRO

This WAS an old Peavy Valveking 4×12.

Soon, it will be an Occam 4×12.

AO 2015: Cameron and Zander.

December 14, 2015

I had to break up the video from the American Open into a few different parts.  This one is dedicated to Zander and Cameron.

This track is definitely one of my favorites of the year.  Check out the whole album.  Dope.

 

White Dwarf-ISM Demo.

November 12, 2015

I had a few people ask me about the song I used in my latest video I posted on the Occam Facebook page.  This is White Dwarf.  Their demo is one of my favorite things released this year.  They basically sound the most like SLEEP since SLEEP.  I’d like to hear a full album from these guys for sure.

Here’s a track.  Click on the link and download all 4 songs for $FREE.99!

So I was working on my annual end of the year favorite tracks playlist and I stumbled across a gem.  But first, a little background info.

In 2014, I discovered that I like cats; Strange, I know.  But I moved in with a roommate who owned a black cat named Benjamin and we basically became best buddies even though we acted like we hated each other.  That same year, one of my favorite releases was from indie hip-hop collaboration, Run the Jewels.

For reference, here is my favorite track from Run the Jewels II featuring Zach De La Rocha.

This year, the duo released a CAT THEMED REMIX ALBUM, MEOW THE JEWELS.

Thank you, internet.

I’ll put out my annual favorite tracks list soon.  Sadly, no there will be no cats on it.  What are some of your favorite tracks/singles from this year?

Edit: I didn’t get the rig right and have been subsequently corrected but I’m going to leave the post as is because it’s funnier that way.  It’s actually: 

4×12 x 2
8×10 x 1
2×15 x 1
BIG FUCKING SUBWOOFER x 1

For all you tone worshippers out there, I want to bring these guys to your attention.

Lament Cityscape.  I saw them open up for Serial Hawk the other day.  Two dudes.  MASSIVE sound.  I saw them set up and the guitarist brought out his rig and I’m like WTF is that.  I’m not all that tech savvy but it looked like a guitar amp, bass amp and a bunch of power amps powering a 4×12, a 6×10 and a BIG FUCKING SUBWOOFER.  I know what you’re thinking, “yeah, but did it sound GOOD?”  Yeah, surprisingly.  I mean there was no one else for him to compete with as far as interfering with other instruments and he really did cover the whole spectrum, not just the low end.

Here’s my favorite track.

Here’s a photo of the guitarist and rig.

Yeah, he played through ALL of that.

Yeah, he played through ALL of that.

Here’s a good shot of one of the guys from Serial Hawk.

Coincidentally, this is how I look when I answer the phone.

Coincidentally, this is how I look when I answer the phone. “WAAAAZZZAAAAAAAAP.”