Though the DVD side of Holland power trio 3Speed Automatic‘s dual disc (that’s CD on one side, DVD on the other), Villa Rocka (Freebird Records) is set up for 5.1 Surround and my television is wired for numbers nowhere near that high, I still got down with the live video for “Do it Again,” which is the only song included in any form on the DVD for which the audio can’t be found on the opposite side of the disc. Those who’d track down audio of that song need to look up 3SA‘s 2006 demo. Or their MySpace page. Whatever’s easier.
As regards the songs on the CD side of Villa Rocka, the disc starts out like sitar-infused Queens of the Stone Age circa Songs for the Deaf, which is not necessarily a bad thing. And though the story of how this album came to be is kind of confusing, I think I’ve just about nailed it down.
No Man’s Land was self-released by the band in 2004. An outlet for that which generally qualifies for psychedelic and awesome, Nasoni Records signed on to put it out on vinyl that same year. Now, apart from the aforementioned demo in 2006, 3Speed Automatic haven’t been up to much, recording-wise, in the meantime. What we have with Villa Rocka is a CD reissue of No Man’s Land accompanied (on the same disc) by a bonus DVD featuring a video of the cumbersomely and referentially titled “Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men…the Shadow Knows,” that live clip, the 5.1 mix of the record and a still-photo slideshow from a run through Europe the band did at some point along the line. Villa Rocka is No Man’s Land-plus.
Musically, the album is much simpler: unpretentious, psychedelic Euro biker rock with a flair for the classics, propping “Walk on the Sun” up against two samples from Apocalypse Now and some far-back-in-the-mix jammy guitars and injecting the already-named closer (which, it should be noted, plays out for the full 22 minutes of its run time) with an atmospheric Doors influence. The vocals on “Second Coming” thankfully shed the curious compression with which they’re saddled on opener “No Man’s Land,” coming off like a drunkenDamaged-era Black Flag gone space rock. It’s third cut “Hit Me,” however, that best sums up what 3Speed Automatic are trying to convey with the lyrics, “I was cruisin’ down the highway/Rock and roll, me and you.” That’s about as deep as it gets.
But if Villa Rocka is (sonically) simplistic, it’s also got a decent bit of genre charm to it, and as someone who missed it the first time around, I’m glad to have encountered it now. Despite short instrumental “Splitting the Atom” being the most active song, tripping on Fu Manchu and whatever that is on the floor there, the CD still has something to offer stoner rock-types looking for something familiar sounding that they’ve never heard before. Your perceptions won’t be changed, your mind won’t be blown, but you could do worse.
Tags: 3Speed Automatic, Bands with songs about driving, Freebird Records, Netherlands