Churchwood, Chief Fuzzer
Churchwood first turned my head with a self-titled debut album that sounded like the bastard sons of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, but on Just the Two of Us -- not a Bill Withers cover like you might think, but rather, a reference to the two sides of the rekkid, or perhaps the parasite depicted on the picture sleeve and its host -- they demonstrate that they have more than a few tricks up their collective sleeve.
"A Message from Firmin Desloge" opens with a blast of heavy fuzz like this was a Boris record or something, before the rhythm section comes in laying down a choppy groove and moonlighting poet/professor Joe Doerr makes his entrance, declaiming in a gritty yelp. It's less Beefheartian, more in the realm of something like '70s obscurantist faves Josefus. "Metanoia" features chattering contrapuntal guitars against a steady rhythm, while Doerr commands us to "Siddown and shut your pie hole" with the authority of Mojo Nixon channeling Tom Waits. The axe interplay between Bill Anderson and Billysteve Korpi recalls Richard Hell's Voidoids as much as the classic Magic Band tandems.
The best is yet to come, though, on the digital-only track "Weedeye," which pits slide against straight guitar rifferama (I struggled to identify the source before flashing on Led Zep I's "Dazed and Confused") and a groove that staggers like a drunk trying to find his way out of a blind alley, while Doerr assures us that "We don't have to anything 'cept live till we die." "Rickshaw Rattletrap" opens with a mutated disco groove (!) until the freewheeling guitars enter and stomp it into the barnyard, with Doerr unleashing staccato streams of verbiage. A winner all the way around, I'm a-thankin'.
Chief Fuzzer is something else entahrly: a trio of young cats from San Marcos -- home to a university, an Air Force base, and little else, until now -- who've swallowed the history of what used to be called "hard rock" (Cream, Hendrix, Led Zep, ZZ Top) whole, and used it as the basis for a somewhat heavier hybrid: still blues-based, with vocals in a register that most Americans have forgotten existed, replete with the two essentials of '70s rifferama, fuzz 'n' wah. If you've seen the documentary Such Hawks, Such Hounds, you get the idea.
Their sound is dark, dense, and eerily menacing. The five-minute "Transcendental Road Blues" serves as its manifesto, while the flipside, "Bad She Gone Voodoo," adds a soupcon of psychedelia to the mix. Of the digital-only tracks, "Theme" is a minute-plus snippet of atmospheric feedback, while "500 Lb. Bad Ass" is a pretty good representation of what the Rides Again James Gang would have sounded like if they were Millennial brats, and "Whight" burns slowly with incandescent fire. Singer-guitarist Cody Richardson has clearly mastered his materials, making Chief Fuzzer a band to watch.