Monday 11 August 2014

Electric Citizen - Sateen (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 1/7/2014
Label: Riding Easy Records

‘Sateen’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). Beggars Need 04:13
2). Magnetic Man 03:41
3). Queen of Persuasion 03:24
4). Savage 02:43
5). Hawk Nightingale 05:55
6). Shallow Water 04:42
7). The Trap 03:31
8). Light Years Beyond 04:31
9). Burning in Hell 04:30


Formed just over a year ago by guitarist Ross Dolan, vocalist Laura Dolan, Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums) Electric Citizen have had a busy year turning heads and ears onto their dark and esoteric style of haunting and unhallowed ’60s West Coast rock, and decidedly British-influenced heavy psychedelia.

Like records by similarly late 60s/early ’70s-possessed anti-modernists Blood Ceremony, Wolf People and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, their debut album "Sateen" provides a blueprint for long term appreciation. Recorded and produced by fellow Grammy Winning Ohioan and local stalwart Brian Olive (The Greenhornes, Soledad Brothers) the album draws on sounds synonymous with the roots of early ’70s proto-metal from groups such as Sir Lord Baltimore, Pentagram, and the daemonic spirit of Amon Düül. Not to mention the comparisons it draws with the rock 'n' roll ceremony of forgotten acts like Frumpy and Shocking Blue when held up against the spellbinding light of high priestess Laura Dolan’s enigmatic voice and live presence.

Electric Citizen has been featured on VICE’s Noisey, Premier Guitar, Classic Rock Magazine, MetalHammer, Thrasher, Roadburn, CVLT Nation, Decibel Magazine, Trasworld Skateboarding, ArtRocker Magazine, AtlSounds, and more.

The Band:

Ross Dolan | Guitar
Laura Dolan | Vox
Nick Vogelpohl | Bass
Nate Wagner | Drums


It seems that each passing decade finds heavy, stoner rock bands rethinking their approach, making it easy to look back on the days when a particular sound was all the rage. For the ‘80s, you had the thrash greats and the tradition doom sound. The ‘90s were all about the sludge. In the early ‘2000s it was, “Kick out the jams and crank up the fuzz!” The latter half of the ‘2000s saw different takes on doom, often featuring heavily detuned guitars with lots of delay and epic-length songs. Here in the ‘2010s a lot of bands are trading in the sloth-paced riffing in favor of the ‘72 throwback sound where blues riffing started evolving into prog. Blood Ceremony showed the metal world that you could incorporate flutes a la Jethro Tull, and that if you incorporated those flutes with spidery riffing and bad trip psychedelia, you could get some deliciously evil results. There’s also the obvious fact that they have a female singer. Alia O’Brian may not have been the first woman to front a heavy group while incorporating a throwback style, but she definitely set the precedent for it. These days this is not an uncommon occurrence by any means. Contrary to what many believe, metal fans tend to embrace women singers, whether it’s Jex Thoth’s Jinx Dawson vibe, or ladies like Farida Lemouchi of The Devil’s Blood and Witch Mountain’s Uta Plotkin, whose powerful voices hint of classical training. You also have the “pagan prog” stylings of Purson’s Rosalie Cunningham, and the sex-flaunting Jill Janus of Huntress. Regardless of their looks, their instrumentation, or their singing styles, one thing is certain. This current wave of strong, female-fronted heavy music doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

Cincinnati, Ohio’s Electric Citizen is the latest of the female-fronted, contemporary old school bands to hit the scene. Their debut full length album, “Sateen,” is a 37 minute blast of fine riffing, good singing, and songs that steer clear of excessive flash and seldom exceed four minutes. The band is in the difficult position of using a rather commonly utilized formula, but their record is a success regardless. Not because they have a woman singer, nor because they have the aesthetic that comes with having a woman singer. “Sateen” is a solid album because Electric Citizen does things the old fashioned way. They write good songs and play them well.

The record kicks off with a lone guitar scale ascending into the wailing, “Beggar’s Need,” a rocker that could have easily come from Captain Beyond’s self-titled release from 1972. The understated mono placement of the organ adds an edgy undertone to the groovy riffing. Track two, “Magnetic Man,” takes us a little bit into the “I’ve heard Blood Ceremony do this before”-territory, but quickly turns things around with the charging tunes, “Queen of Persuasion” and “Savage,” (the latter of which is reminiscent of Sabbath during their Sabbra Cadabra “boogie” moments). The record’s midpoint moment is a mellow one, the eerie “Hawk Nightingale.” This song, with its “Lost Highway” minor chords and horror movie drones, is one of the stronger and more original tracks on the album. It also showcases singer Laura Dolan’s ability to change the dynamics of her voice to match the feel of the music. The remainder of the record continues to rock nicely. “Burning in Hell” isn’t exactly a crushing closer, but its organ swirling, tambourine-shaking catchiness, not to mention its backwards singing, conga-beating bridge, does bring a satisfactory close to an overall strong stoner rock offering.

With an increasing number of witchy front ladies entering the heavy music world, bands need to be wary of falling into fashion traps and using the same source material as other groups. However, a band like Electric Citizen, who isn’t out to summon demons nor raise the dead, should continue to gain an audience if they can keep their future releases on par with their impressive debut.  Fans who dig a retro sound should enjoy “Sateen” because the band wears their influences on their sleeves while keeping things fresh and engaging.

Words by: Erik Sugg

You can pick up a copy here

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