The UK's underground rock scene is currently a seething hot bed of musical activity with bands like Desert Storm, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Green Lung and Witch Tripper all releasing albums that are not only being lauded here, on this little island we Brits call home, but also internationally. Whether Surrey trio, Trevor's Head, Aaron Strachan (bass, vocals, percussion, gliss), Matt Ainsworth (drums, vocals, keys & synths, flute, percussion) and Roger Atkins (guitar, vocals, percussion), have quite reached that level of global recognition is debatable but if their latest release "Soma Holiday" (APF Records) is anything to go by then it won't be too long.
A band citing among their influences the mid to late 70's punk of Black Flag, the grainy desert dabbling of Kyuss and the proto-sludge of the Melvins may fool someone reading this into thinking that Trevor's Head would have a very American sound but although there are American elements to be found within the bands sound there is also an undeniable and overriding quirky sense of Englishness to be found here too
First thing you will notice about "Soma Holiday" is how big it is, thirteen tracks big to be precise, fear not though as boredom thresholds will not be a reached here as the band never hang around in one genre, style or groove long enough for that to occur. "Lung" opens "Soma Holiday", a short intro piece with the sound of someone inhaling and exhaling being slowly replaced with a swathe of keyboard colouring and synthesised sound that then slams into "Sleepstate" a raucous rip-roaring groove fest that hurtles along at 100 mph with vocals trading back and forth over a backdrop of insistent rhythm and growling fuzz broken only by a mid -section of swirling lysergic grooviness. "Did you ever go to war" screams the lyric to next track "Verbal Hygiene" a full on angsty punk fuelled workout that explodes out of the traps like Usain Bolt on steroids. "Billion Dollar Fart" follows a similar punkish path but this time with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek. "Ghost" finds the band putting aside their punkish leanings for a second or two and diving headlong into more restrained waters with Atkins teasing a myriad of colours from his fretboard over an absolutely delicious Strachan bass line superbly supported by Ainsworth's busy and solid drum work. What sets Trevor's Head apart from their contemporary's is their clever use of vocal interplay, not so much in harmonising (though they do this well too) but in utilising the different vocal tones available to them and playing those tones off against one another resulting in a delightful call and response type scenario, something that works extremely well here. "Harvest Ritual" finds Trevor's Head hitting a more traditional stoner/desert groove while "Clerical Error" has a more grunge/alternative dynamic. The band briefly visit hardcore territory with "Writers Block" before taking off into the hard rock/stoner/progressive mixture that is "I Can't Believe It's Not Better" where mid -song Ainsworth pulls a rabbit from his hat with a stunning flute contribution that is sudden, delightful and totally unexpected. "Departed" finds us sitting around the campfire while the band entertain us with a charming mixture of lead and harmonised vocals over a backdrop of acoustic guitar interplay and eastern tinted hand percussion while "Boomeranxiety" sounds not unlike something that missed the cut on The Rocky Horror Show's soundtrack, all quirky vocals and off- kilter rhythms. "Bomb" is up next and sails along on a more traditional heavy rock/stoner groove but this being Trevor's Head it is not long before you start noticing little deviations appearing here and there, this is a band who do not like to play by the rules. The band finish things up with "Welcome (The Unburdening)" an eclectic tome that toys with elements of complex prog, dense sludginess and heavy rock bluster before fading out on a wave of laid back ambience, do not hit hat play/pause/stop button just yet though as after a long period of silence a hidden track suddenly surfaces which Desert Psychlist will not review here as some surprises need to be just that .....surprising!
Quirkiness has not always been the property of Josh Homme and his Queens of the Stone Age and Desert Sessions projects, we Brits have always toyed with the off-kilter and left of centre in our musical history, The Who, Queen and even Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath would often throw in a few left turns to confuse and confound their fan bases, Trevor's Head continue that tradition with "Soma Holiday" an eclectic mix of styles and grooves that revels in it own diversities and eccentricities .
Check it out .....© 2018 Frazer Jones