PALM DESERT - "ROTTEN VILLAGE SESSIONS"
Since the 2011 release of "Falls of the Wasteland", Palm Desert have now come out with another collection of songs seemingly written in the high deserts crispness of the Mojave Desert air titled "Rotten Village Sessions". The 2011 release was credited, as mentioned above, with a sound similar to the kings of the high desert, Kyuss, so the anticipation, if not expectation, for "Rotten Village Sessions" will be 'can they do it again'? Or would they even want to do it again. What will it be like?
As it turns out, Palm Desert stick to the formula, perhaps working on crafting an even finer collection of stoner rock tunes than before, something certainly not easy to do, something not many bands, regardless of location, would want to attempt, but Palm Desert have not only made the attempt, they have pulled off another solid collection of songs that fit perfectly in the pantheon of the high desert stoner sound perpetuated by Kyuss in the 90s.
Is the music on this album original in style? Does it break new ground or reveal anything new at all? Perhaps not, at least not in style or genre, but who the fuck cares? Is it good stoner rock? No. It's GREAT stoner rock, and I, for one, am very appreciative of this foursome from Wraclow, Poland taking a sound they obviously love, and that I happen to love as well, and whipping out 9 fresh, healthy versions of a rock sound that is becoming rare. There is no direct copying of anything here of which I can tell, just new songs brilliantly written to a style that is quite rightly one of the best rock has ever produced, one that came and went in relative obscurity for most, but luckily not for us.
Band members for Palm Desert are:
Kamil Ziotkowski - drums
Jan Rutka - bass
Piotr Lacny - guitar
Wojciech Gatuszka - vocals
Within the stoner rock style that Palm Desert employ are brilliant and gifted vocals, crucial to the high desert sound as set by John Garcia of Kyuss, eminent and energetic bass, never simply blended and relegated to the background as so often happens in many rock bands regardless of style, guitar that riffs and hooks, solos and scorches with the best of them, crucial to making memorable, enjoyable melodies, and drums, like the bass, that powerfully carve out their own space on these songs, not simply relegated to providing tempo and beat, but creating wonderful, vibrant music within the tapestry of Palm Desert's music.
The opening song, "Down the Odyssey" sets the tone, an eight minute intercontinental ballistic ride over the tops of saguaro and joshua, hooking from the outset, both in memorable melody and powerful blows to your stoner rock loving head. This is the kind of song you fall right into the middle of and ride for all its worth.
I love the echoey drum sound on track #3, "Ghulassa Saloon", that quickly leads into track #4, "Mani" where the musical threads here are trippy, catchy, and just plain groovy. It's a unique and incredibly enjoyable song that successfully employs unusual execution in instrumentation.
Palm Desert close out the album with a couple of classic sounding stoner songs, "Acid Phantom" and "White Wolf". The guitar work on "Acid Phantom" is pure and beautiful stoner rock, enjoyable for its effort as well as its dead on sound. "White Wolf" is ten minutes of sheer music brilliance, with a haunting, pitch perfect guitar weaving a tale of wonder and excitement, building up along the way with ever broadening drumwork, bass riffs, and vocal intensity. After ten minutes is a hidden little guitar ditty that adds a dash of flavor. It is there, I'm sure, just as a little thank you for those of us that made it to the end and enjoyed the trip along the way.
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MOTHERSHIP - "MOTHERSHIP"
Brothers Kelley, or Kells, and Kyle Juett team with Judge Smith to create a powerhouse rock trio that have no problem leaving the stratosphere of Earth for music that is cosmically and universally righteous. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, a heavy southern, bluesy influence is infused throughout their music, giving it a home base from which to blast off, but never constraining it to the small confines of our little solar system. Mothership know how to make their music soar, how to trip across the cosmos at the speed of sound, how to escape the gravity of the biggest black holes, and how to generate the force of the largest, most monstrous supernovas. Mothership may have been crafted in the backyard and garage of Daddy's house, but their vessel is one of the finest in the universe.
When first starting out, Mothership were 3 Juetts as father John flayed the skin as older brother Kyle cranked bass and younger brother Kells played guitar, with both brothers sharing vocal duties. Dad knew his time was limited, but can you imagine how much fun that had to be, playing some of the finest new rock crafted in recent years with your progeny? I can only imagine John enjoyed it immensely before turning the sticks over to Judge.
Judge, for his part, has stepped in admirably, providing high quality drumwork that never hides behind the roar and rumble of the high energy engines of the Juett brothers' strings. Judge's energy combines with a physical quality that permeates and punctuates perfectly and powerfully throughout the album.
Guitar work by the younger Kells is quite definitely a cut above standard rock guitar. Stoner / retro rock is all about guitar, and Mothership take that to heart, delivering loads of driven, cogent, quality guitar that takes its cues from old blues rock, rock guitar from the 70s, and embellishing upon that with volume and vigor, fuzzing out the edges with a satisfying dollop of distortion, boring out huge swathes of earth below the surface while simultaneously blasting away at outerspace in starburst, supernova, cosmic blasts of laser cannon riffs and string theory precision.
Kyle mans the bass in such a way as to grab your attention quite quickly when listening through Mothership's songs for the first time. There is a whole lot of gusto with his playing, just downright kick the door in with my Red Wing steel tips, watch how easy it is for me, and as he's kicking it in you notice a beautiful rhythm to the whole event despite the brutality of it, despite the unmitigated release of testosterone and thermite.
The brothers share vocal duties, and I, for one, can't tell much of a difference as both bring a decent rock voice to the party, blending well with the music they play, never yelling the lyrics, something increasingly rare, but never putting themselves in positions that would compromise their capabilities, which when you think about it, shows quite a bit of intelligence in song writing. That intelligence is much more evident on the songs themselves as each one of the eight on this self titled album are well written, well executed, and full of melody, hooks, riffs, memorable stretches with and without the vocals, just all around excellence in craftsmanship.
The opener is five minutes of instrumental, apparently stressing what to them is the more important part to their music and providing to us some monstrous riffage in tribal rhythmic packaging. It leads easily into "Cosmic Rain", a simple bluesy and catchy tune that will be one of those you find yourself singing to long after electricity has been shut off for the night.
Next up is "City Nights", where the melody is tighter and the hooks are contagious. The solos blister and burn, but the basswork, the rhythm guitar, and the energetic skin pounding on the refrains go straight to your blues rock receptors, firing off nerves that get your body moving in time to this incredible song.
It seems like each song kicks up the hookage a notch from its predecessor, and "Angel of Death" is no exception. After a nice extended intro, the blues fuzz kicks in, and musical satisfaction melts warmly through your body as the song unfolds and progresses. This is just pleasurable rock music listening, like biscuits, real butter, and honey. Chased down with a Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, of course.
"Win or Lose" changes up the tempo, slowing it down, tuning it down, but kicking the intensity up a couple of notches to go along with a memorable and well crafted melody that will stay with you for days, I have no doubt. The guitar work on this song is exquisite, tremendous, just totally enjoyable.
"Eagle Soars", the penultimate song, continues the trend. The brothers spend time singing together on this one, which adds a nice flavor to what is already a boiling, frothy, batch of guitar stew, chock full of meat, and more meat, and just lots of meaty goodness.
The closer is "Lunar Master". It's a Lunar Masterpiece. Eight minutes of galloping headlong on your space stallion passing planets, comets, asteroids, and black holes at the speed of Mothership. Pretty awesome.
Mothership, in keeping with their celestial sci-fi name have conjured 8 tales of cosmic bliss played out in 70s Texas blues rock guitar, none of which sounds like it would fit, but when given to genetically superior beings, awesomeness is the byproduct of using what you know, on what you have at hand, with the enthusiasm of constructing what you love best. It's quite wonderful to behold.
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