“D.I.Y or Die”. That seems to be the mantra an increasing number of bands are subscribing to these days and with the increasing opportunities for bands to publish and disseminate their music themselves these days the question has to be “why not?” Trippy Wicked (to give them their often abbreviated name) have gone the whole hog on this release offering it for digital sales as well as a rather niftily packaged CD. It’s a risky and obviously costly exercise but nothing ventured, nothing gained and for that reason alone these guys are worthy of merit.
So what of this 10 song debut album from the St Albans boys? When I reviewed their “Imaginarianism” EP last year I concluded that this was a strong band with some strong tunes but peddling the two piece format as they did at the time I did bemoan the lack of bottom end. Hey presto, no sooner did I speak the words then ex Old Crone Dicky King brought his sky blue Rickenbacker to the party and the required level of rumble was found. On the whole this is a very VERY fine album, if slightly flawed.
Holing up for a week in the summer at former Electric Wizard haunt Chuckalumba studios in Dorset seems to have done the boys a real service. The sound here is rich and full with more than enough fuzz on tap to keep any distorto fetishist happy. It may not have the greatest clarity but somehow the density of the sound adds to their eclectic mix of stoner, blues and doom. The title track kicks off in fine form with a spiralling riff and a soaring, Ozzy-esque vocal. I’m not overly convinced how well the punk breakout fits but these guys are not really ones to play by rules and conventions. “Sea Shanty” is reprised from the first EP and, as it was then and so often is in their live set, is a real highlight. The “Yo ho” refrain and rolling riff perfectly capture the ebb and flow of a life on the ocean waves. The acoustic outro seems a tad unnecessary but is thankfully short so we’ll let that one slide for now. “Fire” brings the doom with a riff that Electric Wizard would give their left nuts for (except for Liz obviously). A crawling grind of a tune with a massive chorus melody…when did doom become catchy people!!! I have to admit though, as fine as this tune is, it is the doom elements of the Trippy sound that I’m slightly less convinced with and I’ll favour the more blues tinged tracks any day. These guys have got the blues and they feel it and in some way it seems as if the doom is a side line for what they do best. “Southern” is a smokey slow burner of a track…you can almost hear the crickets chirping as you rock your old rocking chair on your porch. Again, not sure about the sudden appearance of a horn half way through but we’ll overlook this little indiscretion as well as it doesn’t taint an awesome tune. Elsewhere the blues figures strongly, “Water” is a crushing lament while “Clothes on My Floor” is a cheeky little 12 bar rocker that totally makes the album for me. I could listen to this tune a million times and not get sick of it despite seeming slightly at odds with the rest of the album.
Do I have any further criticisms? Yes a couple. Vocalist Pete has one of those marmite voices that people will either love or hate. I feel that, although there are some very strong vocal melodies on this album at times the reliance on soaring sustained melodies is a little overbearing and the tendency to hold notes that little bit too long does start to become a tad overused at times. “As Clothes on My Floor” shows, a variation in pitch and a bit more groove in the delivery is certainly a very welcome change of pace and displays a lot more of his real potential that I think he generally allows himself to show elsewhere on this album. My second and biggest criticism would have to be “Echoes”. Granted 9 very strong tracks on a 10 track album is pretty good going by anyone’s standards but this tune does serve to reduce the average rolling along as it does on a monotonous, uninventive riff through a rambling structure and topped off with a monotonous and grating vocal line. At nearly 7 minutes this track could have easily been omitted to make an even better 9 track 45 minute album. That said, maybe some people will like this track so reserve judgement until you hear it for yourselves.
“Echoes” aside, as I’ve already stated this is a damn fine slab of downbeat bluesed up doom. Where most label releases these days just seem to offer up an endless succession of faceless, generic bullshit a band like Trippy Wicked surely stands out with their unique sound and infectious enthusiasm. Why they have felt compelled to release this themselves when any label should have been throwing the dollars at them is beyond me but I’m glad they have. Buy this album, wear the t-shirt, attend the gigs…there are a hell of a lot of worse things you could be doing.
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall