Akashic/Cargo Records [release date 05.05.17]
This new-ish three-piece comprises ex-Reef guitarist Kenwyn House, Leah Rasmussen on vocals and Geoff Laurens on bass. ‘Rising’ is their first full length album following a self titled debut mini LP released in 2014.
At their best, the band serve up a clutch of riff-powered psychedelic gems hovering in a space somewhere between the likes of Cream, Kula Shaker and All About Eve.
Take opener, ‘Outland’ for instance. It’s full of edgy guitars underpinned by a prog-infused rock sound. Lovely. And later on, ‘Soulchild’ follows a similar formula. This is the album’s ‘focus track’ (what used to be called a ‘single’ in 20th Century speak) and is full of time-changes, bold and infectious riffs and a soaring, almost metallic solo. Good track.
The band are much more than guitars though. Rasmussen’s vocals are huge and everywhere. On the aforementioned ‘Soulchild’ she holds nothing back. Elsewhere, on ‘Rising’ and ‘Eyes’ she has by turns the ethereality of Julianne Regan and the resonance of Siouxsie Sioux. Sometimes fragile and sometimes bold.
‘Diamond Road’ is again full of inventive arrangements that mean you cannot take the songs for granted. Plenty of driving guitar prevents the appearance of festering dirge that can blight too many promising psychedelic tracks.
There are weaker tracks. ‘Eyes’ starts well, but is almost overtaken by wishy-washy reverb and vocal treatments until it is saved by a great solo with a hefty stamp on the cry-baby effects pedal.
‘Gypsy’ feels like a bit too much of the tremulous vocal on an acoustic track that struggles to find a groove. Even the eccentric, wandering castanets half way through can’t quite generate sufficient interest.
‘Calling Your Name’ is a stripped back, bass-led introspection. I spoke too soon about the dirge though. Here it is, muscling into the track despite the soaring vocal. But then just when you think it’s all over, the Doors-infused keyboard fill lifts the track and restores a semblance of frivolous levity.
Talking of levity, album closer ‘The Oranges Song’ has some great, quirky lyrics. Here, Rasmussen adopts an earnest, earthy quality to her vocal not seen elsewhere. It works well and the track builds nicely.
Overall, a decent enough debut, heavy on the prog/psyche and with a couple or three of standout moments that promise of more to come. ***½
Review by Dave Atkinson
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