With Napalm Records touting John Garcia as "the most distinctive voice of the entire Desert / Stoner Rock scene", it's a ubiquitously and perennially shared sentiment with fans and critics alike. And such an assertion is one that should not be taken for granted. The ex-Kyuss frontman has earned the tag throughout his multifarious career. And he eventually gets to showcase his much lauded voice within a solo context, for here we have his long-awaited debut record. Promised for many years under the 'Garcia Vs Garcia' banner, it's finally arrived, simply baring his own name, and is set to cement his hegemony as "the voice" of Desert/Stoner Rock.
John opted against making new Vista Chino, Unida and Hermano albums to finally make time in his life for recording his debut solo full-length offering, and it's been time well spent. With some songs dating back, compositionally, up to two decades; others freshly written; and a couple of covers thrown into the mix, this is, stylistically speaking, a career spanning platter of music, where old meets new. As such, there's enough here to satisfy Kyuss fans of yore as well as those who'll be discovering his musical talents afresh. And, in any case, the sonic timelessness inherent within John's stoner aesthetic doesn't sound even vaguely dated so the material on this album that pertains to a more Kyuss-esque vibe is as relevant now for fresh ears as it was back in the nineties.
And he's assembled a vast array of musical talent to help him reify his music in the most aurally apposite and artistically adept of ways. Securing the involvement of his current/onetime bandmates such as Nick Oliveri, Chris Hale, Damon Garrison and Dandy Brown was a wise move as it underpins the music with idiomatic familiarity, although the inclusion of The Doors' guitarist, Robby Krieger, is a surprising and welcome one on album closer 'Her Bullets' Energy' (with some beautiful acoustic playing). Again, it's about mixing the old with the new or, rather, the familiar with the unfamiliar. Conversely, it provides the album with a contemporary edge, despite its predominantly stylistically retro roots. Likewise with Danko Jones' contribution to the album (performance and compositional-wise) on '5000 Miles'.
In terms of production, the album's spot on. With a very natural, organic, and almost live, sound, there's a fine balance between grit and polish. So much so that the songs sound alive, vibrant, authentic and captivatingly sincere. As such, this is a record with many sonic charms, as stoner grooves and each stylistic deviation, coupled with John's vocals, are alluring and invigorating in equal measure. His first solo outing seems to have taken an inexplicably long time to come to fruition but, now it's here, it's been well worth the wait. Let's hope for another real soon!
Review by Mark Holmes
4th August 2014
1) My Mind
2) Rolling Stoned
4) The Blvd
5) 5000 Miles
7) His Bullets' Energy
10) All These Walls
11) Her Bullets' Energy
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...this is a record with many sonic charms, as stoner grooves and each stylistic deviation, coupled with John's vocals, are alluring and invigorating in equal measure."