Review by Rick Ossian
Anyone who is into psychedelic music should pay attention here. This is by far some of the best you will hear this year. The music harkens back to the halcyon days of yore for the genre, and you will hear many artists that you may have heard before having an influence upon our heroes. I myself was reminded of a veritable cornucopia of 60’s/70’s heavy metal icons, including Uriah Heep and Pink Floyd amongst others.
In order for us to continue, we should probably say a little something about the band. According to their bio, Blues Pills are an ‘American/Swedish/French quartet’ whose home base is Planet Earth, specifically Orebro. They are Elin Larsson on vocals, Dorian Sorriaux on guitar, Zack Anderson on bass and Cory Berry on drums. Collectively, they are one of the best bands I’ve heard in ages. After checking out this, their eponymous debut studio LP, one would do well to check out their live EP from Rockpalast. A fine ribald effort, indeed. Definitely worth checking into!
The folks in Blues Pills come charging smack out of the gate right in our faces with the opener, High Class Woman. It is a bass-rumbling, ass-kicking exploder of a tune. It is exciting, and, as mentioned before, Uriah Heep-esque at certain moments. It is absolutely loaded with the 60’s/70’s vibe mentioned above as well. It dares us, challenges us, in a good way, to LISTEN UP and pay attention! Ain’t No Change fools us a bit at first, sucking us into what appears to be an instrumental. However, at the 1:15 mark, we hear Elin’s vocals cutting through the mix. Slicing would probably be a more apt description of her voice’s ability to hack and slash through the positively wicked boogie of her cohorts’ assault! Elin is truly a marvel to behold (behear?), and you will hear her voice do all sort of vocal acrobatics, if you will, throughout the rest of the excellent tunes on offer here. By the way, there is a tasty guitar solo at the 3:15 mark!
Jupiter features a heavy duty psych intro straight out of the hippy rock era, thick with wah/crybaby squealings. “I wanna show you my love“, hollers Elin, and we WANT her to show us! There is a guitar solo here at the 1:40 mark, again thick with wah. A brief breakdown follows at the 2-minute mark, then a jam at 3 minutes in, followed by another guitar solo, thick with wah and shredding till the end!
Black Smoke is a longer number, almost a torch blues in a way. Elin has the ability to transport us back to the day when women sang as passionately as ANY man. She is a righteous and powerful vocalist and we would all do well to listen up! At 1:07 there is a guitar wig-out, for lack of a better word. Some very serious blues going on here, talk of sinners and God in the lyrics, a guitar solo at the the three-and-a-half minute mark that is more feedback freakout than anything. A boogie section, reminiscent of Status Quo in a strange way, follows, then another guitar solo at 4:30.
River sucks us in again, leading us to believe that this is going to be a mellow, Floyd-like number. Indeed, the intro is distinctly that way. More torchlight vocals via Elin. At 1:20, things get kicked up a notch for some REAL blues, and at the 2:30 mark there is a positively incendiary guitar solo!
No Hope Left For Me is a stellar space blues. This is obviously another vehicle for Elin’s vocal work. Some incredible guitar work here as well. Devil Man, by contrast, is a hard charger. It is another vocal tour-de-force (surprise!), and features a very busy drummer on board. “Truth will haunt you until your death“, Elin warns us. This tune also includes a very 60’s-style rave-up at the 2:30 mark.
Astralplane is another bluesy, Floyd-y thing, and at some moments is redolent of a slightly harder-rock, almost heavy metal Joe Bonamassa/Beth Hart pairing. It is a sweet, cool scary blues with some wicked licks! At the 3-minute mark there is yet another wailing guitar solo. This is, again, an almost combative blues, challenging the listener to be brave and LISTEN UP some more! I only wish it were longer…
Gypsy is an old-style boogie number. Status Quo again came to mind as I was listening. There is some Hendrix mixed in there as well. Lots of thick wah/crybaby soloing/riffing going on, and Elin wailing again. At the 1:45 mark there is another guitar solo! Surprise!
Little Sun is the closer, and it is a mellow, slower number, at least at the intro, featuring some tribal drumming. This one is almost lullaby-esque, and features two guitar solos, one at 2:10 and one at 3:10. All things being equal in the rock world, then, this is a release to definitely take note of. In particular, if psych/blues is your thing – especially if you like those proceedings a bit on the HEAVIER side! Top marks!