Starting as a side project of Church of Misery‘s Tatsu Mikami and Takenori Hoshi in 2001, I’m assuming to get out all the material that wasn’t about serial killers, and while their Self-Titled instrumental debut album got a lot of praise in 2003, Sonic Flower went on hiatus after recording the follow-up. That eventually saw the light of day in 2021, and they’re now back with Me And My Bellbottom Blues, ready to groove those smoky bar room blues for a whole new generation. It is out 30th of September through Heavy Psych Sounds.
Opener Swineherd is a foot-stomping instant hit; swaggering fuzzy riffs come tripping from your speakers while the golden tones of vocalist Kasahiro Asaeda drift through a fog of psychedelic soloing and glorious haze. The opening riff to Love Like Rubber is one of the sweetest blues grooves you’ll hear this year, and you can feel the tendrils of ‘70s legends like Grand Funk Railroad or Cactus snaking through the uber catchy Quicksand Planet.
There’s a touch of modern influence too though, you’ve got the Clutch-like Poor Girl and even a little Cochise Audioslave on the RAWK of Captain Frost. Sonic Flower are siphoning from a frequently drawn well, but their take on this style exudes charisma and soul, something a lot of modern retro-rock bands forget. It’s all very well to play like you lived in the ‘70s, but the likes of the incredible Black Sheep feel like they were forged from well-worn record decks, smoky dive bars and the colour brown. You know, real ‘70s shit.
Trippy psych odyssey and eponymous track Sonic Flower brings us spiralling through deserts of space and time to an incredible conclusion resting on cool sand under a starry sky. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so at ease listening to a record in my life. The laid back, easy charisma of Me And My Bellbottom Blues is so infectious, rippling with the kind of psychedelic soloing that just sets you back in your chair with your eyes closed and head nodding.
There are times when long form psych guitar noodling would bore me to tears, but Sonic Flower always tethers it to a funky bassline, a soulful vocal or a killer main riff and that is the hallmark of a truly great record in this style. Me And My Bellbottom Blues is a blast.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson