Thursday, June 16, 2016

Salem's Bend – Self Titled

There are a lot of things that I really dig about this album, so I'm just going to jump right in and start telling you about them. First off, I love the overall vibe. Even though I listened to this on CD, it has some of that warmth that people talk about from vinyl, and that has to come from the recording, mixing and mastering. It sounds retro, not only because of the music, and possibly the instruments used, but the sound of the finished product feels as though you have something spinning on a turntable.

It also helps that the songs themselves, the compositions, have that great 70's feel. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but if you listen to heavy rock and proto doom bands from the 70's, there is a feeling to the music of freedom. Bands from that time period seemed to freely combine different elements of music, they seemed to let the music wander and find its own way, and if a song started slowly but it felt right to put a faster, ripping passage in that slow song, bands did it. There was a sense of unbridled expression to 70's music, and these guys capture that really well. It's as though they spent their formative years doing nothing but listening to all the obscure heavy rock they could find from before they were born. This is some really groovy stuff, in every sense of that word.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing this band live, and what makes them even better to me is that they pull it off on stage. They are a powerful presence in the live format and they tore into one song after another as though their lives depended on what they could lay down for us. It is great to see a band that can not only do their thing in the studio, but top those studio performances when they take the stage.

The music itself is fantastic. I love how “Queen of the Desert” starts out as though it might be something mellow, and then the riff just hits like getting kneecapped by a sledgehammer. And as you lie there wondering what the hell just hit you, the guitar just washes over you like nectar from the gods, and then the song pulls back a bit, and then hammers you again. You love it so much that you just wait in anticipation for that sledgehammer to come back again. “Silverstruck” is a sexy, swaggering instrumental that sounds like the embodiment of Mick Jagger singing about moving like a stud and kicking in a stall all night. “Mammoth Caravan” was a monster live, and the studio version is no slouch either. A nice Middle Eastern motif starts off and then a riff that will turn into an earworm for weeks gets you grooving. These are all well crafted songs that feel very organic, and even though they might twist and turn a bit they never feel like any portions were just added on. They flow and they work very well.

Add this one to your collection as soon as you can and definitely, definitely go see this band live if they come through your town. This one is guaranteed to have awesome riffage stuck in your head for weeks.


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