Posts Tagged ‘Jam’

Garcia Peoples – “Crown of Thought”

Another great peek into the latest Garcia Peoples lands today. “Crown of Thought” delves further into the excellent second side of Nightcap at Wit’s End. Like Agitation Free before them, the band’s worked up a killer flip-side suite that pushes into the heart of the sun — blissful, knotted, and rolling around in the brain with a molten glow that’s hard to shake. The song pushes the Garcia’s model closer to the levitating energy of their live shows. One Step Behind aside, this is one of the most ambitious GP albums to date. It’s hard to follow such a heavy statement as their last LP, as I’m sure they’re aware, but here the band are starting to work their way into the nebulous folds of prog with a one hand laying down the needle deep into Fairport’s ascension out of folk and into the electric ether and the other still feeling along the Help Yourself / Mighty Baby axis. The band’s already set a hook into my heart, but this one’s only sinking the barb deeper and drawing darker blood. If the stage can’t have GP then the turntable ought to suffice for now..



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Pacific Range

It’s hard to know what type of tone to strike these days — whether a bath of anger is what’s called for or the cleansing spirit of solace is in order. Maybe the answer is that there are days for both. I’d like to think that the angst of 2020 was far, far from the minds that made High Up On The Mountain, when it was written and recorded. The debut LP from West Coast Cosmic comrades Pacific Range captures a certain strain of calm that’s been sorely missing from my life of late. The album is awash in the salt-scrubbed tones of California and ingrained with the unblemished invigoration of mountain air. While it might not be a West Coast concept, the band captures the aural equivalent of that perfect pitch of blue that comes through in Spring sky — the kind that chases away the clouds of winter, hung with the first tinge of warmth and the the promise of a break from the crushing despair of winter months. The current wave of Cosmic Americana that’s rolled through has oddly favored the East Coast (aside from Howlin’ Rain I suppose) and the bands inclusion in the sunshine sway of the sound feels like it fills a particular gap.

While many of the others are heavily dependent on the Crazy Horse and Little Feat axis, Pacific Range seem to be falling into a more Allman descendent strain, and in many occasions the works of Dicky solo. Sure, they pick up quite a few of the tangential vibes as well — the lesser knowns that found their way in the wake of the Dead, The Allmans and post-Caravanserai Santana. There’s shades of Help Yourself, Mountain Bus, and Turnquist Remedy all threaded through the album. The band trickles down the same tributaries that cut through the canyons and make them their own. There’s a boogie that drives High Up, but there’s something more at play here.

While there’s the familiar deep-seated sway that offers itself up to extended jams in the live setting, there is a tenderness that’s not as present in some of their contemporaries. “Boulevard Indigo,” has a mournful country-folk strain that hangs on the air like dew. “Guiding the Mast” sounds like its was sliced off of either of the last couple of Mapache albums, and its not surprising that the band’s Clay Finch does indeed show up as a guest player among the tracks offered up here. Pacific Range complicate the cosmic winds with their own dusting of bittersweet heartache. There’s plenty here that gives in to the groove but just as much that lets it linger down to a halt, letting the soft breeze suffice as just the right amount of movement. This one seems to have been lost in terms of deserving fanfare, especially out East, but its a necessary pickup in times needing a respite for sure.





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Arbouretum – “Let It All In”

Arbouretum cross lines of country, psych, and folk on their new LP for Thrill Jockey — a position that they’ve long occupied, but while much of Let It All In graces the grander schemes of folk and only touches the psych shores, the title track makes its home there. The song, pushing well past the eleven-minute mark, works a nugget of groove into a gnarled, smoldering pile of riff and rumble. The track unfurls over the expanse of its timeframe, pushing into the kind of ribbon of groove that’s locked into a seance sweat and looking to work the rhythm section to the bone. Over a hammered lock-step beat the guitar grit of Dave Heumann finds its wings, stretching into the embrace of volume with little regard for where the winds might take him. The band’s been at it for some time, and at a point when many can write off a release as just another album in the chain, this alone proves that Arbouretum still have a nail to crush into the coffin of their contenders.




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Chris Forsyth & Garcia Peoples – “Dreaming in the Non-Dream” live

Over the last couple of years Chris Forsyth has been teaming up with Garcia Peoples in the live setting to form the Peoples Motel Band and the results have been nothing short of transcendent. Playing cuts from his 2017 album Dreaming in the Non-Dream and fleshing out the full force of All Time Present Forsyth and the Garcias have acted as a symbiotic live unit, finding an almost telepathic link on stage and letting some of his heavier gems crystallize into their fullest potential. That’s precisely what’s happening on the upcoming live document Peoples Motel Band: Solar Live Vol 3., recorded live September 14, 2019 before a hometown crowd at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia. For this one, they add in a double drummer dynamic, with Forsyth regular Ryan Jewell trading sticks with Cesar Arakaki from GP. The set was captured live to tape by Forsyth’s longtime studio collaborator, engineer/producer Jeff Zeigler an the sound is probably one of the most crisp and clear recordings of Chris I’ve heard yet.

Thankfully, there was also a camera crew on hand to complete the capture for those of us not blessed to be in Philly that night. The multi-camera vid, along with Jeff’s audio puts us all right into the sweat box with ‘em for a huge, hairy, peak n’ valley, knock down and pass out version of Dreaming in the Non-Dream. Its always an argument what a band like this can call a definitive version of a song, but this might be getting pretty damn close. Check out the video below and grab an LP before they’re gone, because its getting close.

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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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WEEED

On the sixth LP from Portland’s WEEED, the band is again wrangling longform jams and pristine fingerpicks into a record of psychedelic transcendence. Given the name they hung on themselves, that’s probably not too great a shocker, but they’re still finding room to maneuver in the genres without wearing the fabric thin. The record eases into view with the gorgeous, opalescent strains of “Opening,” which finds itself in the band’s instrumental bag. The song is a welcome pre-dawn crack into WEEED’s worry-free soundscape and they dive off the precipice into knotted whorls of guitar and percussion interplay that’s clearly built to stretch out in the live setting.

WEEED seems like they might tender some crossover with the current wave of Cosmic Americana, and in the sense that they’re indebted to the freeform ‘70s school of letting the groove dictate the terms, they have plenty in common with the winding cascades of Garcia Peoples, One Eleven Heavy and Howlin’ Rain. They embrace a similar sunny-skied, bliss-blistered shakedown but they’re not hitting the Dead/Little Feat/Mighty Baby triangulation that’s been so prevalent of late. In fact, they wander into some of the creeping dread of King Gizz’ motorik mayhem on the album’s hinge point, “Open Door.” And the track has the effect of feeling like the trip might just turn bad – the blissful skies from the first couple of tracks grow grey streaked and threatening.

Its almost enough to pull the listener out of the pocket, but they don’t let it dive down to the inky depths for long, swerving back to a golden luster on “Carmelized,” which acts as a true highlight of the album. On the back half they find their element in a couple of 10+ heavy-hitters that exemplify the band’s want to let the mind and meter wander while also toughening their sound just up to the edge of heavier Stoner-Rock territory. The band had sidled up to Important record for their last album, but this finds them again at their outpost of Seattle’s Halfshell, perhaps feeling free to wander as they choose on familiar grounds. This hadn’t gotten a whole lot of shouts this year, but if you’ve been locked into the Cosmic-core I’d mentioned previously, then there’s plenty of zone to float in here.



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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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One Eleven Heavy

As I’ve certainly mentioned previously, One Eleven Heavy comes stacked with a considerable cache of talent – roping in members of Wooden Wand, Endless Boogie, Royal Trux, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, and Ryley Walker’s touring band. While the players personal geographies run the span on the Hubeadian Map, drawing in both Coasts and dipping into the UK with Nick Mitchell Maiato, the band shares a unmistakable thread of Cosmic Americana between them. That particular strain of jam-seeded classic rock seems to have sprung up from the ground again in thick ripples over the last few years, reaching full maturity in this year of our lord 2018 and One Eleven Heavy arrive baptized in its blood and spreading the gospel well.

Like the crews of their cosmic brethren (Howlin’ Rain, Garcia Peoples, Wet Tuna), they’re hitting full stride with heady jams that hearken back to the years occupying the comedown close of the Summer of Love, with the ideals of the psychedelic era already starting to fade in the rearview and the amphetamine sweat of ’72 just starting to coalesce. The band strips back the stigma of extended time stamps while they work their way through a set that feeds on Levon’s legacy and elevates Little Feat from the sidelines of drive time radio. They channel the Burritos in their unjustly ignored post-Parsons years, while scraping just a touch of Gene Clark’s breakdown brilliance from No Other.

The record tangles the subtle twang of those raised on a diet of jukebox country crooners with the salt scrub of Western air, laying songs back into a pocket that exists somewhere between chooglin’ and juggin’ depending on how deep you want to dive into your own psychedelic pockets. For a debut, the record feels remarkably lived in. Fresh out of the shrink it already assumes frays and stains that belie its vintage, as if it can’t help but come from the plant with ring wear and a hint of basement musk. The band taps the telepathy of players that have shared stages far longer than their brief tenure – a testament to the individuals assembled – and one can only assume that each of the album’s songs is given a new life on the stage. On record, though, it shines bright as Orange Sunshine, an instant classic that should hook the heads who walked the lot and open up a new era for those who only soaked in the sun through Dick’s picks and regret.

While the record’s up on Bandcamp as of last Friday, and you damn well should have bought it already, its highly likely the rest of you are hitting the three spin cap, leaving you ostensibly out of luck until the record hits Spotify this upcoming weekend. However, for the next week, before the record hits streaming proper, you can get the full view from Soundcloud below. Don’t say we never did anything for ya.




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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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