Friday, December 7, 2012

Electric Shepherd - The Imitation Garden


San Francisco trio Electric Shepherd join the long list of rock trios that once again prove four on the floor isn't always the best way. Listening the great pscychedelic rock these guys produce without knowing anything about their populace, you'd swear by the excellent musicianship that there were far more members and that these guys have been around a long time and witnessed the 70's wave of psych firsthand but further inspection proves that these guys have released one previous album and that they are all still in their twenties.

In the name of research, I checked out their earlier album and heard a heavy Pink Floyd influence although the band didn't sound at all like clones. On "The Imitation Garden" trippy guitar riffs fly at you from the outset of "Totem". Electric Shepherd put a trance over the listener in "The Escapist" and the heavy wah wah guitar that enters the frame only enhances the cosmic spell. The drummer tends towards a more jazzy side rather than traditioanl rock. The beginning of "The Imitation Garden Part I" reminded me of Valkyrie(what's going on with that band these days?) but it's because both bands have similar influences. Electric Shepherd may not be a metal band but both bands have clearly heard more than a little Wishbone Ash (the "Argus" album is the one that really comes to mind)and managed to incorporate it in their own unique sound. "Totem II" has the band in instumental jam mode. A sparseness of sound is used in "Angels In the Grove". The drums sit mostly in the background allowing the lush guitar sound to strongly breeze in through with sung verses coming in and out of the fray. It's unsurprising that a band who choose a name from a sci-fi story have a song entitled "A Mechanical Flower". The song sounds like someone blowing into a large shell with occasional drumbeats and voices inside their head verging on escape. The song leads into the lengthier "Into the Forest, Father/Angels(reprise)". "Heaven Don't Need" opens with a quiet intro then gets slightly jazzy before the dums thud and there's more than a push towards heaviness though eventually the guitar opts out in favour of a hazy trippiness but a head-bobbing rhythm stays throughout the number.

You know how sometimes just slight lyrical similarities can have you thinking of another band? Well, in the case of "Sometimes I About" as there's a lyrical connection to "The House of The Rising of The Sun" with a reference to New Orleans and similar blues guitar and organ to The Animals' cover though there's far more and longer instrumental breaks in this tune.

If it sounds like I'm raving about this album, there's a good reason for it as it's the type of album that reviewers love to get to listen to but unfortunately makes the quality makes it difficult to get other reviews done as it screams out for replaying and on each replaying new discoveries are unearthed. The December 18th release date means "The Imitation Garden". won't show up on many end of year lists but Electric Shepherd definitely make mine as they have managed to make retro psychedelia sound fresh which is no small feat. Oh, yeah by the way, their bio says they're for fans of Cream, Blue Cheer, The Doors, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Dungen and Tame Impala and I'm not going to argue with any of those reference points.


"Imitation Gardens" promo single is free online music available from their bandcamp

Also check out the electric shepherd site which features spinning vinyl.

Like these guys or after more psychedelia? Then check out Buzzmutt.

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