Listen Up: Wednesday, October 8, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Warlocks

Phoenix Album (Birdman Records)

By Matthew Smith

Bold move adopting the pre-fame moniker of both the Grateful Dead and Velvet Underground. Thankfully the Warlocks are good enough to pull it off.

Their brown air, dirty, blurry sonic eruptions are essentially quotes of everything from garage to grunge. “Baby Blue” could be mistaken for a Nuggets outtake easily enough.

Then again, everything seems peace-’n’-luv, man. From the neo-psychedelic packaging of the Phoenix Album, their latest, to the 11-member lineup (two drummers!) to the sitar-accompanied, stoned-out vocals. Just to complicate things further, hints of artful prog pop up as well.

Most songs last considerably longer and are more complex than the average garage blaster. And unlike prog blimps of yore, the Warlocks never flaunt their egos, and, thankfully, the show remains heavy-metal-cliché-free. The few moments of excess — a couple of long fades (think: the final note of “A Day in the Life” lasting three minutes) — are pesky at best.

So label the Warlocks blissful, raging hard rock, although more suitable to the acid rock set perhaps. Thank God somebody still makes music this ragged and raw.

Genre labels aside, Phoenix is one monstrous slab. Probably the best pure rock album since the Mooney Suzuki’s last. Herein lies the wretched noise that used to drive parents nuts before rap came along. Play it loud to blast the cosmic crud away. Essential to both high school punks and hip old goats.


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