Sounds From The Other Side - Tumbleweed (Shock Records)
The portents were good. A reformed band, firing live and determined not to be a heritage act. Old burned bridges rebuilt. New songs. Reunited with the producer of their best-sounding work and taking the time to make sure they hit the mark in the studio. And they did. Make no mistake. This is Tumbleweed's best moment since 1995's "Galactanphonic" and it might even eclipse it.
Paul McKercher's chunky production gives full scope to the trademark fuzzy guitars and the swing is back in the big bottom end. The songs are keepers and the performances are on the money.
"Surrender to the years," Richie Lewis intones on opening shot "Mandelbrot" and when he and the band hits the change-up you know there's not a chance in hell of that happening. There's more life in this album than a dozen soul revival breakfasts in uptown Harlem. The guitars of Lenny Curley and Paul Hausmeister spark off each other with an effortless ease that's startling on the edgy "Wildfire" or the swampy "Queen Of Voodoo."
The matter-of-fact single, "Night Owl", returns Tumbleweed to the melodic territory they staked out so well just before the tidal wave of grunge rolled in and brought with it all sorts of mediocrity.
On that front, the term Stoner Rock has always sat uncomfortably on Tumbleweed's collective shoulders (although legend has it their consumption of sacramental herbs would have put the MC5's share-house population to shame.) Stoner infers aimless sludginess, whereas this is music straight out of a '60s garage in the American Midwest. With the notable exception of "Drop In The Ocean" - a whimsical drifter on pop's high plains that stands apart from the rest that faintly recalls Died Pretty - these are straight-up Rock Action.
There's a generous 13 songs and no filler. Closer "ESP" pushes "Sounds" towards prog rock with its expansive feel, space guitars and Richie's trippy vocal. High octane chords keep it anchored to earth for seven minutes of max volume joy.
Many old or reformed bands strive to recapture the spirit pif their youth while trying to forget they're nearing qualification for seniors insurance. Tumbleweed show they've forgotten more than you ever learned. This is worth the fuss.
Tags: tumbleweed, sounds, from, the, ther, side
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