Thursday, January 30, 2014

Heavy Glow's "Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine"

Upon spinning the new full-length by this trio, whose debut single rather underimpressed me by being long on vox and short on the rifferama that their name led me to expect, I'm transported back in time to the moment when the hard rock aesthetic that's endured the last 40 years or so was born. I'm talking about the time in between Eric Clapton's discovery of the by-now-heartbeat-familiar sound of Gibson-through-Marshall and his subsequent, shall we say, simplification of blues riffage in Cream, through the moment when Tony Iommi introduced the "Devil's interval" to rockaroll in a form that was nicked, to these ears, from the Yardbirds' "Ever Since the World Began." We're talking vintage '68-'70 here.

Cut to the chase: If you dig just-barely-pre-metal hard rock in the vein of Blue Cheer, Cactus, Mountain, Humble Pie, and Mark II Deep Purple, turn off your 'puter and go get this sizzlin' slab right now. True, Heavy Glow frontman-guitarist Jared Mullins doesn't have the tortured tonsils we've come to expect from singers of this ilk, but on the ten tracks contained herein, he and bassist Joe Brooks tickle your cochlea with familiar saturated tones while wrapping their strings around riffage harvested from those time-honored blues boxes, while a cat who goes by the handle St. Judas provides the percussive power.

If heavy blues-based jams infused with melody make you happy, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine will do the job nicely. Try the concise blast of "Look What You're Doing To Me," on which Mullins employs the filthiest, nastiest fuzztone I've heard in many moons, or the lysergically-laced slow drag "Hello September," which hits like vintage Robin Trower, except Mullins' fretwork is both subtler and more intense (at different times) than Trower's ever was. "Got My Eye On You" is a stunning surprise -- a full-on, funky R&B romp worthy of Shuggie Otis. The closing "Headhunter" neatly encapsulates all the band's strengths -- lumbering like a wooly mammoth, illuminated by laser-focused fretwork from Mullins. Heavy Glow lives up to their name, making music as incandescent as it is sonically dense.


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