Review: Psychlona ‘Palo Verde’

Bradford, UK’s Psychlona’s third record, and first for Psycho Wax, Palo Verde features a colorful, kaleidoscopic tree on the cover, hinting at some otherworldly psychedelic meanderings. And even though I was familiar with them, at least by name, Palo Verde is my first sonic experience with the band, and I can say with conviction, that there is some serious rock & roll going on here along with the hinted psychedelics.

Psychlona 'Palo Verde'

Having premiered Rainbird, the first single off Palo Verde here at The Sleeping Shaman, I was eager to dive in and check out the rest of the album, and I was pretty blown away by the varied rock & roll sounds proffered by Psychlona, and while, yes, Palo Verde definitely has stoner/desert vibes, Psychlona also offer some straight-up, fuzzy, garage rock, as well as sounds that I would associate with some ‘90s UK rock bands like the more rocking side of Ride, more contemporary bands like Drenge, and when Psychlona do get weird, and psychedelic, my mind goes to Bristol UK’s legendary garage/psych overlords The Heads for a sonic comparison.

The first two tracks off Palo Verde, Gasoline, and 1975, are both bouncing, driving, fuzzed-out, impossibly catchy, heavy UK rock & roll. Opening with Gasoline, guitarist/vocalist Phil Hey and guitarist Dave Wainfor deliver a killer, forward-thrusting riff, while Hey conveys his lyrics with slightly distorted vocals, a memorable verse, and a catchy-as-hell chorus. Bassist Martyn Birchall and drummer Scott Frankling propel the band right along with a driving tempo, and Birchall’s rumbling bass is of particular note. This song has more in common with early Queens Of The Stone Age or the aforementioned The Heads, than it does with say Electric Wizard.

1975 meanwhile opens with a bouncing, rock beat from Frankling, more chest-rattling bass rumble from Birchall, while Hey and Wainfor drop the hammer on another massive, heavy, yet catchy riff. 1975, moves along as a driving, riffy, catchy, rock song as Hey keeps the ear-worm verse and chorus moving along as the band descend into a massive riff breakdown before tripping out on some awesome instrumentation.

The psychedelics do show up on the previously mentioned Rainbird at least for the first half of the song. The band lock into a trippy, meandering groove while Hey’s dream-like, echoey vocals produce an ethereal sonic experience, reminiscent of some UK post-punk to my ears, however, Psychlona don’t stay here long as Rainbird builds to a fuzzy, rippin’, full-on, rock & roll meltdown to the greatest of effects. Wainfor’s lead work on the outro is a tasty stoner-shred as Psychlona bash their way to the finish, and just like that, Rainbird reaches its conclusion.

I’m a sucker for fuzzy, heavy, and catchy and Psychlona delivers all that in spades…

Meanwhile, Meet Your Devil is a massive, crushing, fuzzed-out, distorted riff-fest, but made totally catchy with Hey’s melodic yet, echoey vocal delivery. There is some serious, chugging, and rumbling riffage here, which at this point of Palo Verde, I’d say that Meet Your Devil is the most ‘stoner rock’ cut thus far. The trippy, dreamy Purple River follows, serving as a nice palette cleanser washing the grime off Meet Your Devil with some excellent, clean, yet echoey guitar interplay between Wainfor and Hey, and I might as well pile some more praise on the rhythm section, as both Frankling and Birchall excel on this track. However, lest the listener think Psychlona are keeping it weird here, Hey and Wainfor bring the collective thunder with some immense riffage as the song builds. Here, Psychlona get heavy and weird, as Purple River had me recalling late ‘90s The Heads output.

Jetplane is the type of song that Josh Homme used to write regularly, and the track that had me most harking back to late ‘90s UK rock like Ride or even Blur. Heavy, fuzzy, but impossibly catchy, in an alternate universe, this is a radio rock hit. La Tolvanera illustrates Psychlona’s sense of dynamics, as the band veer from a slower, psychedelic tempo, and Hey’s dreamy, echoey vocal delivery to the big rock riff, and soaring chorus and back so fluidly, the band never misses a beat, literally.

Closer Warped is what Bleach-era Nirvana, Queens Of The Stone Age’s self-titled album, and Tarantula-era Ride might sound like if tossed in a blender. Heavy, weird, fuzzy, and catchy, it stamps an emphatic exclamation point on Palo Verde as it puts on a vivid display of everything Psychlona introduced throughout the record. I’m sold and am looking forward to exploring Psychlona’s back catalog.

Palo Verde is a fantastic album, and yet another one that came out of nowhere to floor me. I’m a sucker for fuzzy, heavy, and catchy and Psychlona delivers all that in spades. Add in the trippy psychedelic parts, and the ever-present UK rock vibe, and I’ve got this on my already-packed list of killer albums released in 2022. Highly recommended.

Label: Psycho Waxx
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams