Review: Witches Broom ‘Witches Broom’

Having ‘witch’ in your band name (ala Witch, Witchfinder General, Witchcraft, etc) often tends to bring with it a certain presumption that the listener will be met by retro 70s hard-rock/doom and stoner metal types adorned with bell-bottoms, long hair and a penchant for Pentagram and Sabbath. Judging by both their appearance and name, Witches Broom seem to initially fit the bill, however musically you’re met with an entirely different kettle of fish.

Witches Broom ‘Witches Broom’

The band who consists of Savage Sam on guitar/organ/lead vocals/production, Michelle on drums/backing vocals and Herb on bass guitar/backing vocals, recorded the album directly ‘to 8-track tape in a basement behind a cemetery’. This certainly hints at a DIY ethic and garage band ethos and perhaps gives one an expectation of what is to come. 

Tell Your Boyfriend pays tribute to the 60s garage rock that inspired outfits like The Tell-Tale Hearts and The Dwarves Horror Stories debut full-length. It so perfectly captures that early sound that if one was listening to it randomly with no knowledge or context as to who the band were, you’d be convinced it was a long-lost track from the Nuggets compilation, a smashing opener.

A key feature of 60s garage rock bands, and their adherents, tended to be the liberal use of a Hammond Organ (or something not too dissimilar) which, for the most part, carried the song and second track, Know, is of no exception. Injected also are melodies that remind you of groups such as The Stems who, while rocking with the best of them, never eschewed the use of power-pop style melodies either.

will have you bobbing your head such is the level of infectious goodwill present…

The Standells Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White and The 13th Floor Elevators You’re Gonna Miss Me spring to mind on Pill but with an even tougher more contemporary sound. Has Ray Davies made a guest appearance? That is the impression one gets with I Need, whose ballsy proto-metal vibes are strongly reminiscent of The Kinks All Day And All Of The Night. Even though that band never really clicked with me, this is nonetheless a belting track that I have no problem playing repeatedly.

Night Wish sees a darker approach and seemingly takes inspiration from the band’s aforementioned recording location. With creepy organ effects and stupendous guitar playing from Savage Sam, this is a number that could easily feature on some of the better horror movies out there. Here He Come will appeal to fans of Thee Oh Sees as well as Billy Childish’s numerous outfits including Thee Mighty Caesars and Thee Headcoats, there is definitely a more stripped down punky feeling both here as well as on follow-up track On My Mind. Got Me High has a bounce to it that will have you bobbing your head such is the level of infectious goodwill present while Watching concludes the album in style with layers and layers of gloriously Psychedelic drone and feedback.

There is a time for listening to music that is more ‘considered’ or ‘serious’ in the vein of Big Brave, Lotus Thrones, Failure and Gramma Vedetta (my current listening basically) and there are moments for which to quote the albums promo-notes, where ‘nine timeless teenage anthems and jukebox rippers tackling love, lust and drugs’ really hit the spot.

Seeing as we are at the start of a new year with all the optimism it promises (especially after a frankly dreadful past couple of years), a band like Witches Broom are ideal and bring with them a much needed boisterous charm. Thank you to the ever excellent Cardinal Fuzz in collaboration with Flower Room Records for bringing us this gem.

Label: Cardinal Fuzz Records | Flower Room Records

Scribed by: Reza Mills