Thursday, 15 August 2013

Across Tundras - Electric Relics (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 18/5/2013
Label : Electric Relics
Electric Relics, album track listing:
1. Pining for the Gravel Roads
2. Den of Poison Snakes
3. Kiln of the First Flame
4. Driftless Caravan
5. Seasick Serenade
6. Castaway
7. Solar Ark
8. Unfortunate Son
On the new LP Electric Relics, ACROSS TUNDRAS take their ever-expanding style of modern Americana further into the same westerly direction they’ve been traversing for the past few years, organically fusing their swells of post-doom into Spaghetti Western soundtracks and meandering blues/rock jam sessions. A wide variety of sounds seamlessly mingle throughout the slow motion base founding guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Tanner Olson, percussionist Casey Perry and bassist/vocalist Mikey Allred (Hellbender) lay down, Allred also contributing pianos/organs, synthesizers, mellotron, trombone and more, and his brotherJoey (Hellbender) contributing guest slide guitar and vocals. Additionally, Perry hand constructed the scale model landscape for the cover art, with Olson handling the graphic design and layout. ACROSS TUNDRAS recorded Electric Relicsat their expansive Ramble Hill Farm in February, and is releasing it on their own label of the same name, making it a fully self-managed D.I.Y. release
Line –up:
Tanner Olson - guitars, vocals, drones, lyrics
Casey Perry - drums, percussion
Mikey Allred - bass, vocals, piano, organ, synthesizers, mellotron, trombone
Joey Allred - slide guitar on "Solar Ark", vocals on "Unfortunate Son"
Tennessee's Across Tundras play a cool hybrid of Doom inspired Psychedelica, mixed with some good old fashioned hard rock and Americana-type leanings. It's a sound that brings to mind wide open vistas, long highways and porch sunsets. It inspires visions of true freedom. Titled 'Electric Relics', this is a great record that's full of soulful tunes to ease the weight from the blue collar mind.
Without messing around, 'Pining For The Gravel Roads' starts proceedings with slow abandon. If you close your eyes while listening to it you can nearly see the homeland that is missed. Therein lies the true power of this group; they have the ability to transport the listener through both their music and lyrics to another realm, be it earthly or unearthly. This is truly one of the best album openers this year, if not ever. Too much nostalgia or soul to quite be the blues, but it ain't a million miles off. It's a message of sincerity that you can hear in the reminiscent vocals. You can feel it moving in the guitar, like a big river. You feel it reverberate with every beat on the drums. Outstanding.
'Kiln Of The First Flame' shimmers into existence with a big, angelic yet muffled guitar sound. Like an Eagle soaring across, well, tundra. The sweeping and sparse nature of their music is in direct opposition to the sheer amount of feelings that they manage to conjure inside you. How the hell they accomplish this though, fuck all knows.
'Driftless Caravan' has amazing grooves sewn within its structure, real bluesman stuff. It rolls along like tumbleweed crossing the desert, possibly with the regrets of the hundreds of men buried there who were a problem to somebody once upon a time.
My favourite track on the record though is definitely 'Castaway'. Easily the one of the best 'guitar' track of the year, it features a nice 70s rock radio vibe that is as innocent as it is capable of inspiring a good time. Had it been played actively back in the day, they would have been as big as Skynyrd. We'd all be arguing about which of their classic tunes is the most classic, and I would have argued the arse off it being this one. Deep in the low parts where it should be, light and airy in the more restrained moments, it's a damn near perfect song in this earnest listener's ears. And I thank them for it.
'Electric Relics' is a thing of pure beauty. Of fresh air and a better way of life. Of feeling slightly less worn down by the weight of the world that is on your shoulders. It's not affected by money, by pressure, or commitments. It's an escape from the toils of everyday life for any fan of great music. Across Tundras are a special breed of band indeed, and on this record they will make you want to spread your wings and soar.
Words by : Matt Fitton
Electric Relics is available for download now via Bandcamp, where orders for the deluxe vinyl edition -- being pressed on 180-gram virgin vinyl and bearing gatefold jackets -- can also be placed. Stream and pick up the album HERE