Justified or not, you need to have some serious chutzpah to name an album Groovy. I know Aerosmith had an album called Rocks, but that was 1976 and it was, you know, Aerosmith. I think most bands would realise you’re just making a rod for your own back with a title like that and stick to something less bold. A number is always a good bet if you get really stuck.
Still, having raised expectations, Geezer make a promising first impression: the album art on this record is genuinely awesome. I don’t normally pay much attention to album covers but this one is so cool I’d be tempted to buy it on vinyl even if the music were terrible just so I could hang it on my wall. Fortunately, the music more than lives up to the album cover’s gaudy psychedelic awesomeness.
Geezer, a three-piece from Kingston, New York, have been around for a good few years. For me, they’re one of those bands I’ve been aware of for a while (primarily for being on the first instalment of Ripple Music’s Second Coming of Heavy – the only one I don’t have), without ever having listened to them properly. I’m glad that I’ve now addressed that omission because this is exactly my cup of tea: 70s-worshipping stoner rock done with real flair.
While the basic sound is something that’s instantly familiar, Geezer bring a few distinctive twists. For starters, singer Pat Harrington has just the right voice for this music, road-worn and gritty. In fact, at various points he sounds eerily like Zodiac’s Nick Van Delft which is surely a good thing. Secondly, the production on this record is just different enough to be quite distinctive. As you’d expect, there’s no shortage of heavy, fuzzy guitar, but there’s also room for the other instruments. In particular, the thunderous bass tone really jumps out. I get a bit annoyed with records where you can’t hear the bass, but here it’s front and centre. And when I say bass I mean bass – clank-free, treble-free, percussive mud that’s likely to trouble any nearby seismographs.
Opener Dig delivers everything you could possibly want from this sort of music: more groove than you could rhythmically shake a stick at, plenty of fuzz, and a seemingly endless supply of effortless stoner rock cool. As with much of the rest of the album, the rhythm section is front and centre, laying down a simple but irresistible groove: I defy you to not nod your head to this one. If you need objective, scientific proof of how much this rocks then I can confirm that you only have to wait 36 seconds before the cowbell kicks in.
more groove than you could rhythmically shake a stick at, plenty of fuzz, and a seemingly endless supply of effortless stoner rock cool…
Atlas Electra is full to bursting with summery vibes and is so laid back as to be almost horizontal. Dead Soul Scroll starts off similarly mellow, before gradually building into a heavy, rocking finish that’s thoroughly satisfying. Awake is hardly manic but ups the tempo a little with a perfect slice of breezy 70s radio rock (albeit with an added dollop of fuzz and low-end).
The title track more than justifies the brash name: a perfect four-minute eulogy to everything cool about the 70s, backed by a spot-on fat, fuzzy guitar tone and slathered with the most generous topping of groove you’re likely to find. I’m not sure what else to say except that this pretty much nails everything I love about heavy rock. I should also warn you that if you listen to it while walking it WILL cause you to strut. Something to bear in mind if you’re in a public place.
Drowning On Empty brings a slightly different feel, being based around a scuzzy garage riff that Nebula would be proud of. Actually, the whole track brings to mind Nebula, with some excellent guitar soloing and overdubbed acoustic strumming that recalls their sound on early albums like To The Center.
Next up is Slide Mountain, a chilled instrumental featuring the occasional refrain ‘Is everybody high enough’ before sprawling closer Black Owl. Truth be told, as a final track I find it a bit of an anti-climax. The darker lyrical themes sit awkwardly with the rest of the songs and, whereas the preceding tracks are 35 minutes of punchy, focused excellence, Black Owl feels a bit aimless and meandering. It’s not dreadful by any means, but it feels a shame to end such a good album on a negative note.
Still, while I can’t avoid a small grumble, it doesn’t change the fact that this is an utterly brilliant record that more than lives up to its audacious title. I haven’t gone back to count how many times I’ve used the word ‘groovy’ or derivatives there of during this review, but it must be a good few times; they really did get the album title just right.
Groovy is going to be the perfect soundtrack to the summer when we can finally all leave the house again.
Scribed by: Liam Blanc