RADVENT Day 20: Grails’ “Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4, 5, & 6”

For the first 24 days of December, Radio in Opposition and guests will share with you one very special album, one day at a time. We call it RADVENT.

Today’s selection for RADVENT comes from our good friend Shamus McGroggan, co-founder/producer of Tape Swap Radio.

There’s a certian brazenness that comes with being an instrumental band, let alone one that consistently tries to push the limits of its sound. Without lyrics or a vocal melody to focus the listener’s attention, each note from the guitar, each beat chosen by the drummer, is given that much more weight. A song lives or dies in the mind of the listener by these choices and these choices alone. This is not a task to be undertaken by a musician weak at heart. At least not one that wants to run the risk of being accused of art’s ultimate sin– being boring.

Grails has been called a lot of things–psychedelic, spaghetti western, cinematic, post-rock. I’d say a little of all of these are true. But boring? Not so much. The latest release from the Portland, Oregon four-piece is their second go around at assembling their catalogue’s rarities into a single package. The results range from terrifying to tender.

Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 4, 5 & 6 isn’t so much a cohesive album, as a stroll into a disjointed subconscious. There’s moments of uneasiness (“New Drug II”) followed immediately by quiet contemplation complete with pretty piano melodies (“A Mansion Has Many Rooms”). The album burns brightest with the first proper track, “Self-Hypnosis”, which sees the band latching onto a deep psychedelic groove and not letting go until they’ve properly exercised their demons.

It was “Self-Hypnosis” that served as my introduction to Grails and this album earlier this year. Anyone hearing this song shouldn’t expect the rest of the material on this album to sound exactly like it. Grails are not just a bunch of Floyd worshippers, but, then again, they aren’t afraid to explore a deeply-laid psych groove now and then either.

Whether or not this compilation is really the best place to begin with Grails’ music, I can’t say. It’s where I started, so it’s where I point other interested parties. I do know that the discordent elements of these tracks come togther in their own oddly palletable way and the resulting pastiche is worth your attention this winter. If nothing else. put on “Up All Night” and watch the snow fall sometime.

July // Emil Amos // Dylan Carlson // Chicago // BADBADNOTGOOD // Wovenhand // Musk Ox // The Bilinda Butchers

On this episode, Emil Amos of Grails, Om and Lilacs & Champagne, tells us about the latest installment of Holy SonsLost Decade series.

Sandra takes to the streets of Chicago to catch up with Notes + BoltsPanda Riot, and Divino Nino to learn more about local music and what shapes the scene.

Hear the track “Edo Method” from The Bilinda Butchers debut full-length Heaven.

Ross and Justin review a handful of releases including Toronto instrumental hip-hop/jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD‘s III, the score for Gold from Earth founder Dylan Carlson under the name drcarlsonalbion, classical/neofolk from Musk Ox and their latest Woodfall, and eclectic alt-country from Denver’s Wovenhand on Refractory Obdurate.

Ross digs a little deeper into calls that YouTube is suppressing indie artists. Justin ponders on the speed of social media and how it affected a recent scuffle and misunderstanding at JR’s in Philadelphia. Also, a story about Danish electronic artist Croatian Amor accepting only nude photos as payment for his most recent release.


July 1

Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown [LP] – Metalcore, hardcore punk, southern rock.

My Fictions – Stranger Songs [LP] – Screamo, melodic hardcore

July 4

Yes – Heaven & Earth [LP] – Prog rock.

Sleepmakeswaves – Love of Cartography [LP] – Post-rock

July 8

Wolvhammer – Clawing Into Black Sun [LP] – Sludge metal, black metal

Braid – No Coast [LP] – Emo, indie rock, post-hardcore.

Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless [LP] – Death metal, black metal

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestite [LP] – Atmospheric black metal, ambient, experimental

James Blackshaw – Fantomas: Le faux magistrat [LP] – Psych folk, free folk

July 14

Slow Club – Complete Surrender [LP] – Indie pop, folk pop

July 15

The Bilinda Butchers – Heaven [LP] – Dream pop, shoegaze

Novembers Doom – Bled White [LP] – Doom metal, melodic death metal

Antemasque – Antemasque [LP] – Alt-rock, post-hardcore

Rise Against – The Black Market [LP] – Melodic hardcore, punk

United Nations – The Next Four Years [LP] – Hardcore punk

Souls of Mischief – There Is Only Now [LP] – West Coast Hip-Hop, jazz rap, boom bap

July 17

Wo Fat – The Conjuring [LP] – Stocker rock, heavy psych

July 18

Empyrium – The Turn of the Tides [LP] – Dark folk, folk metal, doom metal, neofolk

July 29

Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty [LP] – Experimental, abstract, conscious hip-hop

March 15, 2014 // JE double F // Cloud Nothings // Watter

Welcome back! Atlantic City punk/hip-hop artist, JE double F, joins us for an interview and performance. He talks about his label, touring, his writing process, and more. The full, unedited set and interview can be found on our Bandcamp page, which really helps us pay the bills.

Ross reviews the much anticipated release from Cloud NothingsHere and Nowhere Else.

Members of Slint and Grails come together under the name Watter to bring out This World, which we’ll hear the first track from.

Greg explores a pay-what-you-want download from ambient, electronic soloist, Alone Architect.

dry feet‘s Perry Shall gives his thoughts on smoking at shows and how it affects the audience and the performers.

Justin struggles to pronounce “Oi Magoi” as he reviews the newest release from Greek trio, Hail Spirit Noir.

Escape Velocity

This show is a two hour block of atmosphere, doom, gloom, and other slow tunes. It’s just been that kind of week…


Artist Track
Balmorhea On the Weight of the Night
Holy Sons Payoff
Matt Elliott This is For
Tenhi Pojan Kiiski
Zombi Escape Velocity
Astronautalis Midday Moon
Buried Inside V
Grails All the Colors of the Dark
Syven Tuulenvire
Woods of Ypres Travelling Alone
Om Thebes
Planning for Burial Bleached Body
Have a Nice Life The Icon and the Axe
Reverend Bizarre They Used Dark Forces / Teutonic Witch

Winter Into Spring

This is Radio in Opposition’s debut on Subcity. For the uninitiated, this show aims to gain exposure for lesser known bands. Taking cues from the Rock in Opposition movement of the 1970s, Radio in Opposition explores the artists you wouldn’t normally expect to hear on the radio. For this show, I’ve chosen the theme of Winter into Spring and selected some tracks I thought represented this theme, whether closely, loosely, or oddly. Enjoy.

Note: This show is broadcast live on WDIY Allentown, PA (US), in addition to being hosted by Subcity. Any references to WDIY and what time it is are related to this.


Artist Track
City of Ships
Black Mountain
Time Columns
Cymbals Eat Guitars
Woods of Ypres
The Flowers of Hell
Holy Sons
Rain Drinkers
Spring Tiger
Deep Snow
Radiant Hearts
Ashes in the Snow
Nature’s Antidote
Snowtorch (Part I)
Cold Spring
Lightning & Snow
The Strength of Spring
The River, the Woods
How Far the Gods?
Snowed In
Sunny the Mummy