So who has two thumbs and is in the mood for 60s psychedelia? Well, not usually this guy. I know “retro” is officially “nowtro” (great movie!) but for the most part a lot of the bands inspired by past decades of rage don’t tend to do much for me. However, occasionally I fall down a rabbit hole and end up really digging something that normally wouldn’t be in my wheelhouse. That is the case with the latest broadside from Jess and the Ancient Ones (which totally sounds like a great, Cthulu themed Threes Company ripoff sitcom).
The Horse and Other Weird Tales is an album that answers that age old question: what would happen if The Gathering were playing at a music festival in a picturesque corner of Eastern Europe and some college kids wearing sweaters as scarves came up and called them pussies in ridiculous Scandinavian accents? Feeling humiliated and enraged, eager to prove themselves, I think they would angrily blend The Doors with Janis Joplin and throw in some awesome Dax Riggs (Goddamn man put out a new album).
Dax Riggs probably made that for her. Might be where he's been this whole time, in fact, crafting wicker based neck warmers . . .
Wow, that was a convoluted reference. Totally works for this album though because it’s pretty wacky stuff. Trippy, catchy, powerful, but dark. It's that kind of vague darkness where you’re not entirely sure if the band is messing with you or not. One might even call it fuliginous, if one were an asshole.
The guitar sound itself is worth getting the album for. Great riffs but super fuzzy (not distorted, oh no) sounding at times like the dude is playing is, in fact, an Ancient One- a really mellow one though, who kicks back 10000 Fathoms under the sea with a beat up guitar just NAILING it, before rising to the surface to bring down the moon with awesome solos and then descending back into the ooze, decimating legions along the way. What really is at the forefront here is the killer keyboard work (Doors!). The keyboard playing here is definitely the driving force keeping every song rolling alongside sweet, hoppy drumming and raging female vox. As if to drive the point home the first song is called Death is the Doors. Cheeky bastards.
This isn’t my usual jam, but I really liked it. The driving rhythms and the vocals work really well together and the songs manage, through their shroom induced haze, to have a degree of epicness to them that surprised me. If you don’t believe me, listen to it and imagine yourself sitting on a couch staring at a lava lamp while Gorgoroth kind of . .sort of . . . lingers awkwardly on bean bag chairs. Production is great, and everyone plays their parts masterfully. If you like trippy rock music, if you still have that one super sexy Janis Joplin poster up in your garage, and if you are the one person in the world who can pull off humming The Doors at work without coming across as a huge tool, jump in to this. Standout tracks for me are sure sure You and Eyes, Death is the Doors, and Return to Hallucinate, but the album works better as a whole then in pieces. Also, at 35 minutes, it’s just long enough to put on, sip an artisanal brew with an absurdly funny name and finish the last drop as it ends.