By: Martyn Coppack
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Released on March 14, 2015 via Heavy Psych Sounds
For those of you who have been keeping up, you may well remember the rather terrific release from Black Rainbows last year, in fact pretty much about twelve months to the day. Holy Moon was a jolt out the blue and perked up the ears of us here at Echoes and Dust to the wonderful world of Heavy Psych Sounds. A year down the line and here we have the follow up, Hawkdope, and it’s a pleasure to announce that this album makes Black Rainbows not just ones to watch, but ones to keep up with now.
Building on the fuzz-filled delivery of Holy Moon, Black Rainbows have dispensed with the more out there moments and delivered an album which is a lot leaner in scope and owes more the The Stooges rather than Hawkwind. That said, there are still plenty of moments where the music takes off into some spaced out wonderland, it’s just that here it is a lot more grimier and closer to earth. It’s also a lot better for it although that is in no way meant to make any comparisons. Hawkdope is a completely different monster.
That’s obvious from the start with the fuzzy garage of ‘The Prophet’ revving up its engines and donning its black leathers. As the final guitar solo winds its way out of control on this tight opener ‘Wolf Eyes’ bursts out snapping at your heels with all the vigour of ‘T.V. Eye’, but with a much meaner Iggy Pop. It’s buoyed by its fresh charm and attacks your sense in all the best possible ways.
A change in tempo for the title track sees Hawkdope turn into a droned out epic and possibly the greatest song you have ever heard as the repetitive riff fills out the speakers and the requisite space noises make a slight nod to last years ‘Chakra Temple’, the spaced out epic from Holy Moon. It’s no mean feat to turn the tables on such a highly charged beginning and still keep the tempo and inspiration up, but this is only three tracks in. Next it’s time for some down and dirty rock and roll.
And that’s what you get with ‘No Fuel No Fun’ sounding every bit like its title suggests. A simple blues riff filled out to extreme levels and a simple back-beat underlying the half snapped out vocals. It’s almost throw away and at that point when the ad-lib comes in feels completely slacker, but that’s the magic of it all. This must have been the sound Bobby Gillespie was aiming for on all those old Primal Scream albums.
Speaking of that erstwhile band, if ever a song title belonged to them it is ‘Hypnotize My Soul With Rock and Roll’. Sounding like Kiss meets a collision of fuzz filled speakers, it rides by on a funky riff hiding its more looser moments and just about keeps the song afloat. Some tremendous drumming reminds us that when required, Black Rainbows can dish out the funk and deliver pure rock and roll thrills seemingly off the cuff. For a song that’s not on a par with the rest of the album, it’s surprising how good it is.
After a brief respite with ‘Waiting For The Sun’, a small semi-acoustic drawl, it’s back on to the motorcycle for one last blast through the torpid desert with ‘JesusJudge’, which blows away every stoner song you have ever heard and knocks it all right back with the dirtiest, meanest riff this side of early AC/DC. You can almost feel the wind in your hair as the riff spools out and the echoed vocals make you want to throw your arms in a crucifix pose and sell your soul to the spirit of Easy Rider…and let’s face it, anything that makes you want to do that surely must be the essence of rock and roll.
‘Killer Killer Fuzz’ fills in the pieces as a prime slice of blues filled rock, which never really goes anywhere, but simply adds to the jigsaw that is this brilliant album and as the sunken bass drills into your mind you start to wonder just how they are going to finish this remarkable album. Will it fall flat or will they triumph? You just know how its meant to end and as the foreboding melody of ‘The Cosmic Picker’ eases its way in you settle back for one final ride.
And what a ride it is, subtle, building and full of harmony…it’s the final curtain on the moment and as the lone bass plods its way over the slight bridge you savour the moment before the lighting guitar solo takes over and the music reaches its crescendo. It’s a glorious moment of absolute joy that you pray never ends, but end it must just as all good things do. Luckily we can always listen again. This is simply one of the greatest rock and roll bands making one of the greatest rock and roll records ever. Black Rainbows have arrived and they are here to stay, you may thank your lucky stars for that.