The Warlocks
The Phoenix Album CD - Birdman

The Warlocks’ debut, Rise and Fall (Bomp!), brought back the drugged out haze of such luminaries as The Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3. It proved to be a droning, tribal cloud of smoke. Employing three guitarists, two drummers, keys and bass - the band is the perfect nemesis of stripped down two-man garage rock. It seems the band has no problem playing the bad guy with its sophomore ode to drugs and redemption. ¶ The Phoenix Album finds The Warlocks using the aforementioned influences with a strong dollop of psychedelia (think of some the dark, sinister moments in the Nuggets collection) and a twisted ear for hooks. The band keeps the pace brisk, but never delves into full-on stomps, but just as soon will drop back into a scuzzy crawl. The molasses rattle and buzz of the guitars build to steep heights, making Creem-like solos interesting and essential to the mix (check out “Hurricane Heart Attack”). The dizzying highs and the din of the lows reflect the turbulent life of drug abuse. ¶ The thunder that two drum kits can produce comes barreling in during the first seconds of “Stickman Blues”. This duo help to give the band a primitive feel while the thick layers of guitar buzz add to the complexity. Keeping the listener on their toes and their ears wide open. ¶ While those ears are open, singer/guitarist Bobby Hecksher whispers, howls and cries like a man who has hit rock bottom. And with his last gasps of air he tells you his tales of drug induced woe. The theme of chemical banishment and redemption isn’t hard to see. Song titles like “The Dope Feels Good,” “Shake The Dope Out,” “Cosmic Letdown,” “and “Moving And Shaking” reiterate this message. But the tale of the Phoenix rising from the ashes gives the listener a sense that the storyteller has repented. ¶ The Warlocks begin to add rock to their dark and intense formula for music on their latest. Clamping gritty rock’n’roll to its thorough knowledge of droning psych put this band in a modern class that has few mates. Fans of the narcotically fueled beauty and complexity of The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized and The Brian Jonestown Massacre (of whom Hecksher was once a member) will find this record challenging and rewarding. As a tip, an entirely new world opens up when listened to through headphones as opposed to speakers. (Pat Wensink)

 

 


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