Friday 27 April 2018


Detroit's Small Stone Records have had their problems in the past, especially when in 2014 a flood almost wiped out their offices and nearly destroyed their whole operation, but the label that has over the years introduced us to such underground luminaries as Sasquatch, Wo Fat, Roadsaw and Greenleaf are nothing if not resilient and slowly but surely the label has fought its way back and with their mantra of releasing quality over quantity are now clawing their way back to the top.
The latest band to be given the "Small Stone" treatment are a trio from Oviedo, Northern Spain with a penchant for old school hard rock/proto-metal grooves with a well defined stoner edge who go by the name Green Desert Water. The band, Juan Arias Garcia (bass), Kike Sanchis (guitar/vocals) and Miguel Alverez (drums/backing vocals), first came to Desert Psychlist's attention with their hard rocking and bluesy debut EP "Green Desert Water" which we described on their Bandcamp page as "Smooth and classy blues rock", the band return now with their latest offering "Solar Plexus" (Small Stone Records) and we have no intention of changing that opinion.

As connoisseurs of 70s classic/hard rock will already know the music of that period was birthed in the UK ,a place far removed from its blues based roots in the USA, with bands like Led Zeppelin, The Jeff beck Group and early Peter Green led Fleetwood Mac taking what was an overlooked musical medium, amplifying it to earsplitting proportions and effectively reselling it back to its original owners. However it wasn't long before American bands cottoned on and started to experiment with the blues themselves but as the USA contains a huge diversity of people and cultures it wasn't long before some of those cultures started seeping into the music they were creating and moulding a new sound entirely. Two of these cultures to ingrain itself into the music were from the country/folk music of the southern states  and the soulful R'n'B of the inner cities with bands like the Allman Brothers Band, Grand Funk Railroad, and Mountain, among others, incorporating these influences into their grooves some of which were glaringly obvious some of which were latent and underlying . It is from this pool that Green Desert Water draw their sound, filling their fuzz drenched bluesy grooves and proto-metal ramblings with an undercurrent of southern country strut  and soulful swagger that although doesn't smack you around the face with a cowhide glove are nevertheless still there. "Open Your Wings" kicks things off nicely, a barnstorming proto flavoured workout that struts and swaggers towards its climax on a wave of crunching riffage and pounding percussion, lightened only by Sanchis' soulfully executed clean, powerful vocals and swirling solos's . "Chaman" and "The Deepest Sea" follow and both are notable for their fuzz drenched circular refrains, pushed hard by Alverez busy solid percussion and Garcia's grizzled fuzz drenched bass, both songs taken to another level by Sanchis distinctive and  delightful vocals. Sanchis voice although bereft of any vestige of southern "twang" to match the southern edge of the grooves surrounding it is nonetheless a thing of wonder, his vocal may not have the soulful timbre and all out power of a Steve Marriott or a Glenn Hughes but he more than matches them for weary gravitas and undiluted passion. Those vocals are used to great effect on the albums next track "Souls of the Woodland" a brooding and atmospheric number with a loose blues core that is not only the perfect showcase for Sanchis' incredible voice but also highlights his prowess as a guitarist, his solo's and riffs taking on a life of their own as they swoop and soar above Alverez and Garcia's tight rhythmic undertones. "Mother Moon" is up next and begins with the band crunching through the gears on a wave of rasping riffage and rhythm then suddenly laying out for Sanchis voice and Alverez's  bass drum to carry the song, then just as suddenly exploding again. The song carrying on in this vein until segueing into a storming instrumental mid section that showcases each members individual skills before finishing the way it started in an explosion of gloriously grainy proto groove. Final song and title track "Solar Plexus" rounds things off nicely with an undulating slice of distortion dipped proto madness that dips and soars in equal measure while at the same time visiting a myriad of styles along the way, styles that include lysergic funkiness, southern bluesiness and good old fashioned hard rocking fuzziness.

It's a win, win situation for Desert Psychlist here, not only do we see Small Stone Records maintaining the levels of quality over quantity they are internationally renowned for but we also get an album from a band who's star is most definitely in the ascendancy. Green Desert Water and Small Stone Records, a match made in heaven.
Check 'em out .....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

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