Life’s strange little coincidences never cease to amaze me. In this case, the music, and review gods sought fit to line up three, out of my last four reviews, with bands peddling some form of heavy, fuzzed-out, garage psych, which is right up one of my many musical alleys. Here, we have Psychic Death Safari, the sophomore release from Parisian duo Electric Jaguar Baby, and their first for Ripple Music’s garage/psych-rock imprint Rebel Waves Records. As I’m sure I’ve previously waxed on, I never cease to marvel at a duo, as a rock band. When two people can make as much noise as three-to-five in a band lineup, that’s commendable, any way you slice it.
Electric Jaguar Baby describe their sonic blueprint as ‘a gangbang between Ty Segall, Josh Homme, Jack White and Ozzy Osbourne, sprinkled with retro and occult 70’s vibes’ which is accurate enough, but I’d also throw in a more obscure duo, for aural comparison. For example, on opener Hitmaker with its stomping, fuzzy riff, reminds me of short-lived, Sheffield, UK, heavy garage-bashers Wet Nuns, in energy and attack. Hitmaker serves as an excellent opener, delivering the aforementioned stomp in the main riff, courtesy of guitarist/vocalist Antoine D’Aiello, and plenty of rockin’ drive, from drummer/vocalist Franck Devaux, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention an extended fascination with the singing drummer.
Flashlight, featuring a heaving main riff, is certainly one of the catchiest songs on Psychic Death Safari, and it’s here that the stated Homme influence first stands out to my ears, as Devaux offers up a very Homme-like delivery, especially in the verses. Flashlight, with the hooky vocals, rattling, bashing drums, and an ear-worm riff hits that elusive sweet spot sonically. However, not to be outdone, the second single and video Shiver River offers an impossibly catchy main drum beat from Devaux, that features a stellar snare tone, to say nothing of the mildly bizarre verse/chorus, the fuzzed-the-fuck-out riffery and lead work from D’Aiello. If you’re not air-drumming to this track, then there is something wrong with your hearing.
Sundaze has some nice clean-garage-tones, before the fuzz kicks in, but for me, the bands stated Homme-influence becomes a little too prevalent, especially in the chorus, as it’s so obviously a QOTSA style delivery, but in the end, it doesn’t diminish the quality, as it is one of the more memorable, driving tracks on Psychic Death Safari.
full of vocal hooks, excellent drumming, great heavy/fuzzy-to garage/clean guitar playing, and trippy effects…
D’Aiello’s clean, garage-y tone shows up again on the beginning of Never Enough, before he inevitably steps on the fuzz pedal, initiating a full-on catchy, raucous, bash-fest. Jaguar’s Boogie, meanwhile recalls ‘60s garage rockers like The Sonics, both in tone and in delivery, along with the shout-along chorus.
Slinky Shadows, a mid-tempo thumper, features a quasi-sloppy chorus, which I’m sure is intentional, had me recalling late ‘80s Austin garage-punk, rock ‘n’ rollers Poison 13. Elsewhere Lazarus is another memorable, QOTSA-esque garage-basher, whereas closer Magik Queen is more of a slow-burn, psychedelic affair as the band drifts along with Devaux’s distant, echo-y vocals adding some emotional heft as it builds a bit before a gentle, trippy, come-down.
All in all, Psychic Death Safari is a great record, full of vocal hooks, excellent drumming, great heavy/fuzzy-to garage/clean guitar playing, and trippy effects. Electric Jaguar Baby delivers their mission statement in spades, checking pretty much all the boxes one would look for in a heavy garage/psych band, and they get bonus points in my book for being a duo, as both musicians make their presence emphatically felt. Psychic Death Safari is a fun, rockin’, well-executed, great sounding record that I’m sure I’ll be revisiting regularly, and one that might make its way onto my impossibly crowded year-end ‘best of’ list. Good stuff and a fun record.
Scribed by: Martin Williams