The Skygreen Leopards
Now that postmodernism has permeated all of our existence, burdening every cultural burro with skins filled with irony, steamer trunks of precious reference, banners to signal all-important recognition from travelers on the horizon, it gets convoluted deciding whether you actually like something or whether you recognize you are supposed to and are just responding appropriately. The simple answer is that you like what you like, its something in the spinal fluid, but I think its more complex than that. The closer you try to get to the bone, the more gristle you find. So, since I am no longer a student pursuing my philosophy minor and have sloughed off my cultural integrity just like that array of hats I tried to wear. I mean literal hats, I tried baseball caps, panama hats, even a straw cowboy hat at one point in hopes of helping out the lamentable sartorial aspect of my Enigma, but it was all in vain. It just made my head look even fatter, and thus a lesson was learned that day. It actually doesn't matter why you like something, if it clicks, it clicks. If it doesn't, then don't try to wear it, it just won't fit.
This trip down Self Obsession Lane is courtesy of the new EP from neo-neo-psychedlecists Skygreen Leopards, who on Jehovah Surrender evoke not the weed-wired boogie of Grand Funk or the LA ghosts of Love, but of the shining repackaged but nonetheless brilliant Brian Jonestown Massacre,a band I unabashedly love, impossibly pushing their already gloriously drug damaged take on psyche-pop and damage it a little more.
The opening title track sets phasers on "Duudde... with its overdrien slow guitar buzz and orbital acoustic strum keeping the echoey drums, that sound like they are recorded in a cave on the moon, in check. The singer's voice strains against the smoke and drips with honey, just perfect. 'Julie-Anne, Patron of Theives" with its country lope, tambourine and buzzsaw soloing and hushed vocals, its a dead-ringer for BJM's Anton Newcombe and his mini masterpieces. But that's OK. These are not train jumpers but fellow travellers and their stuff is exquisite. Like a child can't have too much love, I can''t overflow on slow-burring psychedelic pop music.
The 20 seconds of drone on "Play for the Spring" at first seem to hail a change in their tack, but its back to business when the song kicks in. "Apparition of Suns" is my favorite on this EP, which reels off like a beach ritual, and the perfectly titled "Let the Lion be Swallowed By the Dove" continues in this direction and the only real sea change is in the final song "I Was a Thief" where the whole deal gets slowed way down, sounding like if the Byrds were fed extra Quaaludes and ensconced in an underground parking garage. I've personally been on an effect pedal spending spree ( I just got a sweet DanO Cool Cat chorus that bleeds out the sound like a cathedral) so this echoey wonder hit me at just the right time, but there is enough meat on this bone to feed the less-gear-obsessed. Is it the most original thing? No. Its not even the most original copy of a copy, but that's OK. With every copy you get some degradation, but you get new textures and smears that pop up in the process, creating something new and beautiful and cool, and you don't care where an apple this sweet was on the family tree before it fell.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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