Review: High Desert Queen ‘Palm Reader’

There are three things in life where I am always going to be partial: cheese, drag queens and stoner rock bands, but because I am a nice person, I will keep my opinions on Cumin Gouda and RuPaul to myself for now and focus on stoner rock instead. Which is perfect because one of the most interesting releases of the genre is Palm Reader, the brand-new album from High Desert Queen.

High Desert Queen 'Palm Reader' Artwork
High Desert Queen ‘Palm Reader’ Artwork

The Texan four-piece is the type of band you feel like you’ve known forever and a half, despite having only been active since 2019, but they have this familiar feel to their music that is always nice to delve into when you need a fuzzy wah-wah fix and Palm Reader is no exception.

The album starts with the fairly radio-friendly Ancient Aliens, and it’s a strong start. The riffs are there, the groove is there, and I am so glad that this song is now a regular show opener since their last EU tour in 2023. Ryan Garney (vox) is a belter, through and through, and it is great to see his talents as a vocalist being put on display. That being said, it would be absolutely criminal of me not to mention Morgan Miller, bassist and daughter of the co-founder and guitarist Rusty Miller, who is also singing on Death Perception because she rocked my socks off.

The song in itself ticks all the right boxes for me: grungy vibes, bluesy feel and a great voice that sounds like Lydia Lunch and Björk mish-mashed for the better. I feel like she should get more occasions to sing along with Garney and I cannot wait to see that happening.

Palm Reader is a great album for anyone who likes desert rock, ZZ Top and fuzzy sounds…

Another thing I would love to witness is how Head Honcho and the title track Palm Reader would be translated live because the latter is a pure party song that will send any stoner fans into a frenzy, while the former is just a happy earworm. If you get to listen to Head Honcho once, and you don’t start humming, headbanging or downright yelling ‘heeeeeeeeaaaaad hooooonn-choooooooooo’ by the end, you will do it at some capacity when you expect it the least. Like all great earworms do.

The second half of the album is more melodic and a little more chill, which can feel a little underwhelming because you were expecting a party album and by track five, we’re already with the slow jams. It’s completely fine, I must admit that I thought that too, but in hindsight, it allowed me to appreciate Phil Hook’s drum fills and Rusty Miller’s riffs the way they should be. Time Waster and Tuesday Night Blues might bore off those who only like stoner rock in small doses, but they are far from being bad songs, in fact, the riffs on those tracks are solid, dare I say, solid as a rock… *cue the rimshot* (the correct term for the ‘badum tss’ sound).

To end this enjoyable journey, Solar Rain is your fairly traditional stoner rock ballad with a drop of blues-rock that makes the riffs and the rhythm section so tasty. All in all, Palm Reader is a great album for anyone who likes desert rock, ZZ Top and fuzzy sounds or would like to try something that is not from Palm Springs but definitely dreamed of attending a generator party nearby.

Label: Magnetic Eye Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Nessie Spencer