Review by Rick Ossian
This is one of those incidents where the name of the group simply says it all. We have one objective if we’re going to listen to these fellows – we must all jump into a time machine and make a sonic journey back to the 1960’s and immerse ourselves in the waters/music(s) of the time. Think Blue Cheer with a bit more of a psych lilt and a bit less pounding your brain into submission, and you’ve got the right idea. Anyone familiar with the term ‘garage band’ or ‘garage rock’ or the Nuggets compilations will know straight off what I’m on about. The Golden Grass are purveyors of nothing more or less than hippie garage psych, with a touch of classic hard rock and Yes, even Heavy Metal thrown in for good measure.
Hailing from Brooklyn, this is the first full-length outing from the band, who got rolling around 2013 from the sounds of the 7″ info in their bio. They are comprised of Professor Plum Brandy (Michael Rafalowitch) on electric guitar and lead vocals, The Golden Goose (Adam Kriney) on drums and lead vocals and The Fireball (Morgan McDaniel) on bass guitar. They combine Blues, Metal, Hard Rock and Psych to weave a tapestry of good tunes and even better times on this collection of recordings. The title of the album bears a slight resemblance to an old Jefferson Airplane number, but I digress, as I often do. Let’s get into the tunes, shall we?
First up is Get It Together, a number with loads of guitar, both lead and bass. The bass actually sounds like it could be a solo instrument (à la Lemmy, Geddy Lee or Ox), and is turned way up and added to the front of the mix, as it should be. There are a couple of guitar solos, a brief one at three minutes in and a longer excursion at the five-minute mark. What would a psych tune be without a couple of guitar bits? There is that and plenty more to spare in this six-and-a-half minute tour-de-force.
Reflections is full of reminiscing, riff-happy 60’s/70’s rock. They throw in a lot of stuff on this one, even bells/chimes at one point. There is a brief guitar bit before we even hit the one-minute mark, and again some serious bass guitar licks as well. Some nifty rhythm riffing is going on here also. We also have two more guitar spots, one at three minutes and one at four-and-a-half. I was again reminded of 60’s area West Coast acts, mainly San Franciscans such as The Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Shadow Traveller is another big whopping number, clocking in at just over 8 minutes, and is driven by the bass guitar and a rowdy harmonica. A very nice Psych intro gives way to some cool riffing, and at 1:30 we get our first salvo of some serious guitar work. The lyrics may be basic but they are to the point; “Get out of the shadows/Don’t let the darkness get to you/Take my hand/Understand”. There are several guitar bits here (2:30 and 4:00 in particular), the latter sounding a bit like a guitar refrain, if you will. There are also some leads at 4:45 and seven minutes in. We have some pretty cool shifting too, at 4:15 there is a shift to pure Blues Boogie, and again at six minutes in we get some changes. It always helps to keep things flowing if you change things up a bit here and there, I say! The guitars close things out with the obligatory Psych fade, where things get considerably mellower than before.
Hazy Daybreak is no more or less than a strum-happy interlude. It features good Psych FX and an early morning acoustic mixed with electric feel. There is a brief bit of finger-snapping (1:15), and before we know it this neat little instrumental ditty is over. It is noteworthy even though it is only about two-and-a-half minutes long. Moving right along, then!
Down the Line is an absolute Psych monster, at almost 10 minutes the longest number on board today. This tune alone is worth the ride, as you will hear once you’ve listened. A lovely drum roll gives way to a sweet main riff, sort of a heads-down psych boogie (à la Status Quo), and we’re off. Again, some serious bass licks come to the fore, and the vocals have that refreshing bit of a garage feel to them. This rough-hewn feel gives the classic rock edge some attitude, and we also get some brief usage of FX pedals as well. There are many smaller guitar bits, the one at 3:30 and the riffing at 7:30 are particularly noteworthy. The downshift to a quirky psych breakdown at 4:20 is long and glorious, but mainly for heads only, if you understand my meaning. It takes up the major of the midsection in this tune.
See it Through is another heavy Psych number, just over six minutes in length. It has plenty of guitar and feedback and that beautiful Boogie bass we have come to love. There are other things that pay homage to the days of old also, such as handclaps and cowbell (3:30). At 3:15 there is another Psych breakdown, and before we know it this garage psych-fest is over, all too soon. Looking forward very much to their next outing!