The Chain (Cleopatra)
Since forming 22 years ago, Bobby Hecksher’s psych rockers the Warlocks have enjoyed a career as turbulent as the circumstances under which they were born. As well as enduring the chaos that was the Brian Jonestown Massacre/Dandy Warhols saga (portrayed vividly in the film Dig!), Hecksher was rejected by Weezer. What else to do but form him own band?
But things didn’t get any easier. The Warlocks have worked their way through record labels and indeed band members like Pac-Man with little balls. Two years ago, Hecksher told us that he was unsure about the future of the band. But here we are, pandemic be damned, enjoying the release of the band’s tenth studio album.
As with the last two, the album is released through local label Cleopatra (the gray vinyl is a nice touch), and this time there’s a concept running through it — a story of a Bonnie and Clyde-ish couple on the run, called Rocky and Diamond.
Not that you’d necessarily know if you weren’t told. This isn’t a rock opera; rather, the storyline lends some lyrical subject matter which, in truth, resonate in the current environment anyway.
“I’ve been reading lots of articles about our justice system” Hecksher said in a press release. “I’ve also been watching a lot of real-life/fictionalized prison TV series. All these young adults are caught committing very low-level crimes, but they end up getting these huge bits of their lives taken away from them. The ones who have money usually fair better.”
He has a point, and he makes it well on songs such as the touching “Dear Son,” “We Don’t Need Money” (with its enduring, repeated “rock and roll” refrain) and “Sucking Out Your Soul Like a Son of a Bitch.”
Musically, the album is typically adventurous, droning Warlocks fare. The melodies are there, but they’re buried and require some effort. The ’60s psych/Madchester blend is still hypnotic. This is The Warlocks at their magical best.
It’s worth noting that Cleopatra have also just released Bish! Bash! Bosh!, the first album by UK punks 999 in 13 years. This is a band that formed in 1976, right at the jumping off point, and the new record doesn’t disappoint with it’s singalong pub-rock anthems.
“Bish! Bash! Bosh! is about cooking up a storm with our music,” vocalist and guitarist Nick Cash said in a press release. “There’s one thing that it has always been about in everything that we have ever done and that’s freedom, and of course dancing.”
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