Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Tia Carrera - The Quintessential

Label: Small Stone Records

Released: October 27, 2009

Over the course of just a few releases, Tia Carrera has proven not only to be among the best of the modern stoner psych bands, but also one that has paved its own path through the influences that permeate the genre.

Their latest album (and first for stoner haven Small Stone Records), The Quintessential, may seem like they have perhaps mellowed a bit, shying away from the heavy helpings of Black Flag free punk that gave their earlier releases an explosiveness that can elude the stoner set. A good listen though, shows that this "mellowing" doesn't mean less intensity, only a different intensity.

Any concerns about this slight shift in direction are quickly allayed by "Home," the album's opener. Waves of the spaciest space rock easily take the album to new destinations. Heavier, bluesy acid rock takes hold on "The Unnamed Whole" where driving rhythms and exploding riffs both elevate and ground the 20+ minutes of psychedelic exploration. The albums other expansive jam, "New Orleans," walks, runs and wanders in that space between Zeppelin and Hendrix, where so many great rock songs have taken root, exploring both the mellow and the manic fringes of sanity. The phased vocals and acoustic guitars of "Hazy Winter" let the album down easy, but it's another kind of easy that you've ever experienced.

The Quintessential isn't quite as overtly crazy as Tia Carrera's earlier work, particularly the mind-boggling You Are the War 7", but to say that it takes a step back to sanity misses the point. The spacey madness of the record simmers more than boils, but in the end, you're head will feel just as cooked. Be careful listening to this one, because it's such a trip that the DEA might come knocking on your door when Tia Carrera is declared a controlled substance.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 8/10



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