Now's the time to escape. To momentarily close the door on the clamor—shut away from the trials and televisions and terrorists and whatever new tourniquets are slowly cutting off the ability to absorb any more bad news, because, as A Clockwork Orange explained, there is just only so much destruction one person can take.
Music is made of foxholes so you can tunnel beneath the malaise, feeling nothing more pressing than the weight of a really heavy song. Musicians can create divine mazes, enticing you to lose your station in life to ripples in time, space, and spiritual guitar riffs.
All this hippie speak is just to say that the new Gris Gris record is, as its title proclaims, For the Season. It's for a season of needing removal from grim facts; for a season of spinning from one vertiginous reality to another. Season is the newest séance thrown by the Oakland, California band, where lyrics are delivered in cathedral chants and underwater lexicons, and saxophone notes come hurling forward like grenades with their pins pulled. Leader Greg Ashley's tongue is thick and his lines measured—Hammond notes and guitar licks stomping along in the same stoned stupor. Background chatter enters like an AM radio that can't catch a clear station and chimes are rarely played as much as they're stumbled into, mallets dropped against their surfaces. Toolbox percussion and garage-rock melodies pile upward until the sound of an electric guitar suddenly leads the song somewhere less congested. And amidst it all, great pop tunes emerge.
If the Doors proclaimed "This is the End" nearly 40 years ago, the Gris Gris remove the nails from that blocked passageway, traipsing through hash-pipe blues, primal moans, and a general de-evolution from easily definable rock patterns. This record is a deep, collective inhale—in two parts. Side one (or the first six songs): "Suite of many interconnected songs and streams," the band announce in their bio. Side two: "Six distinct tracks."
Recorded in Ashley's former home of Texas (once the psych ward for Roky Erickson and Red Krayola, the band notes) the concept behind Season was to live, play, record, watch the horses, contemplate the trees, stare at the lake and the raft and the rowboat, and jam together until one continuum of players and song was reached. And from that communal jungle comes one creatively convoluted album, two sides, and a couple love songs: the waltzing lament of "Medication #4" ("You with your lovely eyes, you with your skin, your lips to kiss/You were so patient then/I was so good, better than this/Long, long, long time, oh so long ago/Gone, gone, long time, oh so long ago") and "Mademoiselle of the Morning," with its faraway harmonica and accordion drifts. Together, Season's eclectic elements work as a magical transport to another time.
Compared to the Gris Gris's delightful dementia, headliners the Warlocks are style-conscious slick. The latter band's songs lack the yodels and yowls, the guttural growls and existential tangents. The joke about this Los Angeles band is that it takes them seven people to do what Black Rebel Motorcycle Club do with three (and before them, the Jesus and Mary Chain with four). And while all this is true, the Warlocks are also able to peddle a benevolent numbness to society—in the vein of early-'90s dope rock, where giant walls of distortion act as a force field keeping listeners close to speaker buzz and far from reality. The Warlocks' latest release, Surgery, comes close to JAMC catharsis, with songs about heaven and hospitals, Satan and pharmaceuticals; pop songs drowning in bulldozing bass lines and high (in both senses of the word) melodrama. Theirs is a familiar sound, one that's been bobbing heads since shoegazers stopped looking north of their knees, their methods so recognizable it's hard to separate one song from the next (or, more specifically, to pull the Warlocks' approach from the newest crop of fuzz addicts aiming for the same sugary stupor).
If you're searching for rabbit holes to spiral through, though, you could do worse than these opposing escape routes. While the Gris Gris needle your acid reflex, the Warlocks set you adrift in a cozy dream coma, their plea to "Come save us from ourselves" offering an apt approach for leaving it all email@example.com