Thursday, 5 September 2013

Heavy Company - Midwest Electric (album review)

Cover artwork by Pat McClimans.
Rock n roll is alive and well.  That's all I've got to say.  Sometimes after listening to "modern rock" radio blared across the overhead P.A. system at work I need to tell myself that.  Every now and then it just needs to be re-stated.  Deep breath.  Rock n roll is alive and well.  It survives most vividly in the hands of those who don't know any better than to simply pick up a guitar and play loud or pick up some sticks and just bash the shit out of some drums.  When the conditions are just right, and those hands are capable, a monster is created.  A beautiful creature with bolts in its neck and vibrant scars across a shovel-shaped forehead.  The lightning bolt which animates the stitched-together corpse of this rock n roll monster is the flash of inspiration that comes to those who don't know any better.  "Don't you know rock n roll died a long time ago, man?"  Heavy Company doesn't know.  There's no bullshit with this band, just a genuine enthusiasm for getting down to business.  They're the kind of dark horse band that gets you up off the edge of your seat, and you root for them, because they just don't know any better.  Oh, they're capable, but they just don't know ...

Lava lamps and neon mushrooms have long been the symbols associated with The Heavy Company since they first appeared with their 'The Heavy (Please Tune In...)' EP back in early 2011.  These symbols signify to the listener that this band is here to destroy your mind.  No, don't take that the wrong way.  The destruction of a mind can be a beautiful thing, especially when it can be re-born and re-imagined by a pair of excellent mind magicians / surgeons whom we have here in the form of Ian Gerber (guitar, bass, vocals) and Jeff Kaleth (drums, vocals, guitar).  Once you partake in the psychedelic experience your mind will never be the same again, these two make sure of it.  They are here to fill your world with smoke.  They will make the walls breathe.  They will make the carpet lap in waves and they will make the shadows swirl and circulate in vibrant colors.  But they will do it in the heaviest fashion possible.  They will communicate directly with the very core of your being, the part that understands that rock n roll is alive and well, by speaking in a raw blues tongue.

If all of this sounds abstract and meaningless to you, just listen to "A Groove a Mile Wide" and get back to me.  Or listen to "Greasy Mush" and you tell me whether or not they nailed it with that title.  In other words, they're speaking directly to the mind's eye.  Of course, it all amounts to a hill of beans without the visceral, so luckily it's all there in the form of riffs and fuzz.

'Midwest Electric' starts off seeming like a fairly standard stoner rock album with "The Humboldt County Waltz".  Nothing wrong with that.  It's only at the halfway point of "Groove" that the magicians behind this riff barrage pull back their masks to reveal their true faces and surprise, surprise, they'll have you saying "My God, it's full of stars".  But let's focus on what's up front for the moment, the carnival barker elements as opposed to the freak show behind the curtain if you will.  Let's talk riffs.

Now, much like Jimi Hendrix, there's a real push and pull between chest beating riff mongering and open-mouthed naval gazing contemplation, stoner and psych.  The psychedelia blooms here in much the same way it did between the grooves of 'Electric Ladyland', in an organic, naturalistic sort of way.  The Heavy Co. hook you in with a big fat sexy, strutting, dead fish funky riff and play around with it until it's been distorted and mutilated out of all proportion.  It loses its original shape and outline resembling something like a green and red cloud, rolling menacingly down the sidewalk, hazy with smoke, green with ghost and thick with red viscera.  Such exploratory musical surgery is what stoked the creative engines on Johann Sebastian Bach and if you can believe it, The Heavies come from that same tradition.  Lovers of music, those who don't know any better, just pick up an instrument, play a riff, then explore every nook and cranny of that riff then exploit it for all its worth.

I should be talking about an identity crisis here, about how "I wasn't sure if this album wanted to be a stoner album or a psychedelic album ..."  But, nah, I won't.  This album works, in the end it's a meeting of mind and body, not a struggle between the two.  Maybe it shouldn't work, but it does.  The riffs are mean and the psychedelia is sweaty.  Deep breath.  Rock n roll is alive and well.

Highlights include: "Groove a Mile Wide" and "One Big Drag".

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 36:50

From: Lafayette, Indiana

Genre: Hard Rock, Stoner, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Jimi Hendrix, Leaf Hound

Release Date: April 20, 2013

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