Saturday, 4 May 2013

Geezer - Gage EP (album review)

One of my favorite new discoveries over the winter was Geezer's 'Handmade Heavy Blues' album (you can check out the review I did for Stoner Hive here).  It was just as the album title suggests, dirty and rude electrified blues from the fuzzissippi river, with vocalist Pat Harrington paving just the right gravelly road for the music to ramble on.  Well my paranoios, the Geezer is back, his electric beard a little longer, the clothes a little dustier and maybe just a little more out of fashion with the youngsters, and that's just how we like it around here.  This four song EP features three new studio songs and a live improv recording.  For more detail, refer to this interview Harrington did with Temple of Perdition during which he discussed the origins of this EP (see question 7).

For those proud owners of 'Handmade Heavy Blues', we know what to expect here, so I won't bore you with the details of this EP, it's more of what you expect from this band ... But hold on ... (sound of record scratching) ... something's going on here musically.  Has the Geezer doffed his ancient stained and faded grandpa shirt, straw hat, dusty boots, corn-cob pipe and suspenders for a tattered band t-shirt, denim vest with patches and filth encrusted bong?  Well the question actually becomes twofold and the answer to both questions is yes and no and yes and no.  Let me explain ...

The opening track, "Ancient Song" is a swirling downtempo song that can only be categorized as stoner rock.  It was recorded for this Grip of Delusion compilation and the other two new studio songs were cut during the same session.  I guarantee you the song and its appearance on this compilation will win the band some new admirers.  Initially, it's a surprising departure from the band's familiar sweaty blues sound, but not so far from home that the sound is shocking.  It's certainly an interesting extension of the band's sound that sees them travel from the soggy and humid river delta to the arid desert.  Is this the new direction the band is taking from now on, leaving behind the beloved blues?  Well, the thing is, it's not really leaving the blues behind.  Like most rock music, be it stoner rock or whatever, the song finds its origins in the blues, Geezer of course, keeps the roots a little closer to the surface.

"Thorny" is up next, mixing slide guitar with blown out stoned vibes for a slow stomper.  It's the perfect soundtrack to a highway cruise through farm country at sundown.  A hybrid of sorts, it proves that the band may have taken on some new influences and some new substances, but they don't forget where they've come from.  "Ghost Rider Solar Plexus" pours forth from the same smoke cloud, sowing a stoner patch onto the back of a solid blues vest, while opening up the throttle for the most uptempo sounds on this disc.  An insane solo featuring some of the most otherworldly tones I've ever heard adds to the intensity of the ride and the intensity of the buzz.

So has the geezer changed his musty old clothes entirely?  No, but he has made some additions to the wardrobe, adding a layer of warmth atop those dusty old work clothes.  I don't think that the sounds that confront the listener here are what I was expecting to hear, but as a fan of the band I'm not disappointed by the slide the band has taken in the stoner direction.

The closest comparison one can make here is to The Rolling Stones and the evolution of that band, the sound blossoming from the wrinkled and cracked hands of trad blues to gradually blooming into full blown psychedelia.  Geezer's transition slightly mirrors that of the Stones with the major difference being that substance of currency, changing from acid to weed, so the music grows from psychedelic to stoner, so that's that.

Okay, so we've made a mountain out of this molehill of the band's expanded influences.  Is it a worthy entry into the field of stoner rock?  Absolutely.  More than worthy.  In fact, I might say I'm downright excited to hear what comes next.  And that's coming from a fan of the band.  I'd go so far as to say the three new studio songs here make the perfect soundtrack for backwoods travels down dusty tracks of highway under the blaring sun.

Geezer will be playing alongside such stoned heavyweights as Lord Fowl, Borracho, Lo-Pan, Supermachine and Gozu among others at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 festival at the Acheron in Brooklyn, New York on July 27.  The first 50 ticket buyers were given a copy of this EP as an incentive giveaway package.  Once those puppies moved it was made available to the rest of us slobs on bandcamp for FREE DOWNLOAD.  On a related note, 'Handmade Heavy Blues' will be released in October by Blues Blvd. Records out of Belgium.  Look for it!  What that means however, is that the album will no longer be available for download on bandcamp, except with the purchase of a CD, until those quantities run out.  It would be cool to pick one up as it has now been made collectible as a 'first print' kind of thing.

Highlights include: "Ancient Song" and "Ghost Rider Solar Plexus"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 22:24

From: Kingston, New York

Genre: Stoner Rock, Blues

Reminds me of: Rolling Stones

Release Date: May 1, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Ridin' down the highway through the country, the sun spins in the sky creating a warm blanket of light.  When that happens, pull over to the side of the road and press play.

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