Posts Tagged ‘Garcia Peoples’

Garcia Peoples

I’ve already broken down both halves of this LP as track posts, but this one’s a true 2019 crusher so it deserves proper credit in the long rundown. To echo the label, two tracks doesn’t make this release an EP, so don’t do it the disservice of calling it one. One Step Behind embraces the Garcias’ prowess for improvisation (as best observed in the live setting ) and amplifies it with ventures into psychedelic jazz and slow-burn downer epics alike. The title track gets most of the focus, which seems warranted given it’s the most ambitious recording the band has ventured in the studio to date. Recorded with Jason Meagher at Black Dirt, the track times in over the half-hour mark and the band doesn’t waste a minute of it, taking the listener on a multi-part journey and employing guitarist Tom Malach’s father Bob on Saxophone to drive this one through the Cherry/Sun Ra cosmic curtain.

The band builds the beginning into a circular riff, sliding off of the jam/psych axis for a while and into a minimalist float that locks somewhere between Terry Riley and Steve Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Musick. When Mallach Sr. hits the speakers he brings the full force and nuance of his years locked in sessions with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Arto Lindsay and his sax proves dexterous and devastating in equal measures. The band exits the psych-jazz rumble with a powerslide into their expected, but always welcome vision of Cosmic Americana and it’s just as drenched in sunshine curls and verdant strums as any of their works. The track tears into its second half with a twin guitar attack but the band makes it feel like they’ve hardly broken a sweat. The song is a proper showcase of all that makes the Peoples tick – technical skill, boundless enthusiasm for elevating guitar rock, and grooves that can’t and won’t be denied. The band’s played extended and abridged versions of the track live lately and both work incredibly well, a further flex of their arranging skills.

After all that, they still have the energy for an eight-minute closer that channels the broken and beautiful excess of Gene Clark’s No Other, albeit with a good deal less cocaine dusting the edges. With a swap in songwriting duties, the band shifts bassist Derek Spaldo to the piano and new permanent keys player (and man of many instruments) Pat Gubler to flute for a late night, whiskey-soaked comedown dedicated to lost love. It’s one of the more tender moments in the Garcia Peoples songbook, and it’s good to see them shading in their edges beyond expectations. The whole record leaves the listener twisted and torn, lifted and lowered. I can’t predict where the band goes from here, but standing on the precipice of this release I can only imagine they’re going to completely tear down what it means to be a jam/psych/choogle/rock band in 2019 and rebuild it in their own image.




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Garcia Peoples – “Heart and Soul”

The other half of this new Garcia Peoples platter found its way out yesterday and it’s a damn fine shade on them. Unmoored from the band’s usual groove, the flip to their epic One Step Behind finds the band whiskeyed down in the pre-dawn light, feeling out the bottom of the soul under the flickering bare bulb of yearning. Putting Derek Spaldo’s keys front and center, the song takes the band through country-scarred territory they’ve only hinted at before. The song dives into the large statement sadness of No Other-era Gene Clark in a way that most contemporary artists could only hope to scratch. While the band has cemented their status as kings of the stage — no matter how big or small — with this record they’re proving that the studio is just as much a home, and a place to carve out ecstatic highs and crushing lows that forever reverberate in their two-inch loop around the soul. If this one isn’t already on your wishlist for 2019, this damn well better seal the spot.



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Pat ‘PG Six’ Gubler on Shide & Acorn – Under The Tree

I couldn’t be more excited that there’s a new Wet Tuna record on the horizon. The duo of Matt ‘MV’ Valentine and Pat ‘PG Six’ Gubler capture a particularly potent brand of psychedelic sweat and the new album’s a total killer as you’ll all soon see. As Matt’s already done a Gems piece for the site, the new release gives an opportunity to get Pat in on the action as well. A Psych vet for the better part of the last two decades, Gubler’s graced time in seminal psych-folk group Tower Recordings and is currently holding down slots in RSTB faves Garcia Peoples and Weeping Bong Band in addition to his time in Tuna. Seems only apt, then, that he should pick a lost folk gem from the short-lived Shide & Acorn (also briefly known as Foehammer or Peppermint Snuff of Wight along the way). Find out how their sole album, Under The Tree, came into Pat’s life below.

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Garcia Peoples “One Step Behind (Single Edit)”

It would be disingenuous to say that Garcia Peoples rise over the past year has been anything short of impressive. Following their sophomore LP for Beyond Beyond is Beyond in February they’ve become staples of the live circuit in NYC (a quick dig through Archive.org or NYC Taper will confirm their prowess in the room). They’ve opened a slew of dates with Chris Forsyth and Kurt Vile, fleshed out their sound with the help of new permanent member Pat Gubler (Wet Tuna, P.G. Six), cut a lightning crack studio session with Hans Chew, and now they’re onto their second album of the year. Some might think the second helping would leave the band wanting for material, but it’s a goddamned smorgasbord at the Garcia’s house and we’re all invited. Taking their improvisational prowess from the stage to the reels, the band is issuing a 32-minute epoch of a title track that brings Guitarist Tom Malach’s father, Bob on board for a deep dive through space jazz that upends everything you’d expect going into a new Peoples record.

Diving deeper into the mercurial depths than they ever have before, the band eschews their usual groove to get lost in a bit of the cosmic wilds for a patch. Malach, the elder, used to knock down sessions with everyone from Miles Davis to Arto Lindsay to Stevie Wonder so this is no nepotism knockout, this is a familial team-up for the ages. Ah-ah, but you’re gonna have to wait until the full platter’s out of the oven to hear Bob’s double overdubbed sax goodness. Right here is the radio edit, a line closer to what they’ve been playing live for the track. Heard this the other night when they opened for KV and it hit just as hard — the band workin’ up their own “Playing in the Band’ alchemy. They sync up in full symbiosis, playing off of one another with the veracity of players with twice as many trips ‘round the sun and its a delight to watch.

The band’s Danny Arakaki peels back the curtain on One Step Behind’s origins. “We had a great time recording this track,” grins Arakaki. “Many highlights involved. One being, Tom’s dad, Bob Malach, coming to the studio to lay down the sax tracks (which you’ll hear later on the full-length album version of the song) and after killing it, casually saying, “fooled em’ again.” Great to see Tom and his dad work together. Every time we make the trip out to Black Dirt Studio we end up finding new sounds too. That has everything to do with the way Jason (Meagher) works with us. Positive vibes all around. Enjoy the changes and ride the tune.” The record lands October 18th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Best be ready.

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Best of 2019 (so far)

It’s been a hell of a year so far and now it’s time to run down the albums that have stuck around the turntable the longest. For all the fraught emotions and everyday injustices, there’s still some bright spot of solace in music. That’s not a trade-off, but its something to keep you going. As usual, these are the best records that filter through the Raven aesthetic. I’ll be off next week on vacation so this 30-spot plus the ensuing two and a half hour mix will have to hold you for a week. Gonna take a break until the 2nd week of July. The second half of the year already has a few front runners, so enjoy these gems before the tail end of 2019 comes running atcha.

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Garcia Peoples

It seems like just a few months ago that Jersey’s young gun guitar greats Garcia Peoples graced us with their debut, Cosmic Cash. That record, born out of the cutout bin clamor for a resurgence of ‘70s denim draped sounds, was the soundtrack to summer haze in 2018. The band made a strong case for a return to the karmic well, divining the spaces between The Dead, Hot Tuna, Mountain Bus, Mighty Baby, and FAT. Yet, despite the band’s Arakaki brothers barely even scratching this temporal plane of existence when the tape trades swapped to file transfers, the band evokes quite convincingly a headier era, when the way to peace lie in between the woven lines of interlocked guitars soaking up the sun.

They, along with a few other keepers of the Cosmic Cloth who’ve stepped out of the smoke in the last couple of years, have been warding off the sour taste left behind by frat bros soaked in spilled vape liquid and sweat who can’t stop telling you how much better Widespread is in the pocket. Instead they foster an environment of bucolic guitar nirvana that’s a bit sunnier and a touch smarter, zeroing in on the positivity and playfulness one would expect from a band with such a pointed moniker. The new album straddles finely the line of grass between the edge of the city and the beginning of the country. Natural Facts is a still full of the cool breezes that blow as you tumble down that Black Mountainside (see: “Weathered Mountains”) but they’ve added a touch of toughness into the formula this time around. The city seeps up through the cracks in the soles of their shoes, giving the guitars a bigger bite that also soaks the record in a greater sense of relief when the band loses themselves in the roiling waves of dual guitar euphoria that can only be amplified when they’re fleshed out on stage.

Speaking of the stage, the band has already built themselves quite a live reputation, which often makes a hard transition to the record. For any band whose live sets read > like > an > expression > of > equation rather than a bulleted list, compartmentalizing the flow to two sides of wax can prove a challenge. The band escapes for the most part unscathed, eschewing the suite method they’d employed on their last album and giving the tracks on Natural Facts a cap around the five-minute mark. They manage to engross still within these truncated lengths, while making the album flow with the ease of a band used to sewing their songs into an aural tapestry. Short order, if you were on board the train last album, then you won’t be disappointed here. If you’re just now buying the ticket, then Natural Facts will drop you at the edge of the psychedelic veil just as gently.



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Garcia Peoples – “High Noon Violence”

If you’re just now finding your way to Garcia Peoples, well, then I feel sorry for you. Their last album was a true gem of Cosmic Americana and you’ve been missing out. However, I also feel excited for you, go dive through the debut and get ready for the follow-up, which is shaping up to be another heady journey through high-minded, body-buzz jam workouts. The band lets loose today with the torrent “High Noon Violence,” a knotted gem besieged with overcast harmonies and flooded with their usual unspoken imprint of The Dead – though flashes of New Riders and Mountain Bus wash over the rinds of their guitar salad as well as this track kicks into high gear. Its a definite highlight from the upcoming Natural Facts which lands at the end of March on their old stomping grounds, Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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Garcia Peoples – “Feel So Great”

Less than a year on from their debut this past summer, Brooklyn’s Garcia Peoples are back at the helm with another burner on the docket. Opener “Feel So Great” lightly pushes aside their penchant for Cosmic Americana to go for the psychedelic burn proper, driving a low-slung riff with the prowess of vets twice their age. The harder edge doesn’t keep the ebullience away – the song opens up to a steam-bath cooldown in the middle before hitching the groove back up for a ride out of town. Yet this is definitely a different side of the band from what was on display on Cosmic Cash. Less of the Dead at play here, replaced by shades of Neil Young’s oft-maligned (and wrongly so) ’90s output, though the band claims that The Who’s sweat-soaked live shows were the inspiration for the song. Still working overtime to make believers out of a generation of jam deniers, Garcia Peoples show no sign of flagging, slumping of sagging on their sophomore outing.


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Mixtape: Goin’ West

Been a while since there was a mixtape up, but these things take time and tenderness. For the latest mixtape I’m taking some inspiration from 2018’s slide towards Cosmic Americana. With albums from One Eleven Heavy, Garcia People, Howlin’ Rain, New Parents and Wet Tuna leading the charge back towards ’71-’72 I though it might be in order to round up some of those West Coast sounds that hit on resonant frequencies to the new crop of smooth players. While most, if not all, have already pledged allegiance to their own favorite boots of The Dead and there’s a communal love for Royal Trux, Little Feat, Crazy Horse and Levon Helm, I thought I’d scoop up some outer-stream suggestions to fit the bill. Ok, sure, I’m cheating a bit with the Flying Burrito inclusion, but despite a wealth of praise from any outlet that would let you listen, that one’s just a great song that fits the vibe.

Travel further down this roadmap of country-tinged, sun-soaked songs from ’69 on and feel the vibes slow down to a simmer for the end of summer. It’s not all West Coast -The Wizards from Kansas were actually from Kansas, Mountain Bus were from Chicago despite longing for the country – but each of these hits on that cosmic view of American psych that cropped up along the coast. It all winds down with one of the germs of the sound, The Charlatans’ “Alabama Bound,” a song that’s often been noted as being the proto-“Playing In The Band.” Artwork inspired by so many Grateful Dead bootlegs. Click below for tracklist and stream.

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Garcia Peoples

As I’ve mentioned previously 2018 seems to be coming into its own with an embrace of the oft scorned jam band. What was once the butt of jokes among the more pretentious contingent of music cognoscenti has been given a legitimate platform. It helps that the genre has been rescued from some of the bro-y trappings that typically kept it down. While the new class still embraces the jam proper, they lean into the free boundaries aspect of the original rumblings of The Dead, rather than, say, the Guitar Center chest puffing and puca shell shambles of bands like Moe or Government Mule. In fact, it’s the embrace of the magic years of The Grateful Dead that seem most prescient, especially in a band named Garcia Peoples.

The New Jersey unit, naturally at home in the live setting, brings their sense of immediacy and experimentation into the studio. The record flickers like a living flame – warm and inviting, but able to scorch if given the chance. They’ve nailed the liquid runs of guitar that defined the Dead’s unifying embrace, while also bringing to mind the second-tier stunners like Mountain Bus, Mighty Baby or Fat. On Cosmic Cash’s centerpiece suite, though, they barrel out of the gate with guitars set to Trux and burn down the barn with little regard for the bystanders. Of course, it all smooths out to a buttery soul by the time they get to the end, with just a bit of a lyrical turn towards cringeworthy on “Cashing Out,” but if anyone was looking to elevate the legacy of Jam to something other than college freshman phase territory, its these guys.

The record is sun-streaked with positivity, and that feeling is utterly infectious. You’d be hard pressed to find a band working in the genre that would be called dour, but Garcia Peoples feel like they’re happiest spreading love via rippling riff. Their debut stands central to the new wave of American Jam and given time they’ll likely go down as a pivotal spark in new attitudes towards Cosmic Americana. For now, though, this is just the perfect companion to ride out the tail of Summer. Drop the needle, fill your drink and let the cooldown shake of Garcia Peoples free your soul.



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