Here I’ve been kicking myself for days trying to come up with some kind of vaguely apt descriptor for what’s going on with Small Stone‘s new Northwest Mind Meld release, and it’s right there in the title the whole time. Is it a compilation? Is it a six-way split? Nope, it’s a melding of the minds; a coming together of various acts and outfits linked in one way or another — if nothing else by geography — for a singular rocking purpose. A putting together of the heads, so to speak.
Gathered by none other than VALIS guitarist/vocalist Van Conner, Northwest Mind Meld features not only his band, but other Washington luminaries Mos Generator and Golden Pig Electric Blues Band alongside newcomers like Skullbot, The Valley (a name I can appreciate) and All Time High. Each band gets two tracks divided up over the course of the CD in a mixed order, like a compilation where half the bands didn’t show up and the rest just filled in the time.
One has to wonder about that. For a region so fertile when it comes to creative music — stoner or otherwise — it seems a little strange to only have a half-dozen bands melding their minds. Was this all Conner could find, or was it just a matter of who he thought fit with what the others were doing? In any case, the six present and accounted for each give solid showings, the two VALIS and Mos Generator cuts being particular highlights, as well as Golden Pig Electric Blues Band‘s “Pentagram” living up to its name.
Of the newcomers, the first offering from The Valley, “Clear Water,” stuck out as especially well done, and All Time High‘s Monster Magnet-type heavy psychedelia on second contribution “Warning Birds” was a welcome change of pace. For both their songs, Skullbot rely on tried and true fuzz and a quick pace to make their presence felt. Only they and The Valley didn’t record their material with Mos Generator guitarist/vocalist T-Dallas Reed, and though the Reed tracks have a clear continuity of sound (with a various artists release of bands in the same genre, that’s just as likely to happen when they don’t share a producer), neither The Valley nor Skullbot are out of place. If anything, the similarities throughout Northwest Mind Meld‘s 12 tracks make it sound like they’ve got a scene going out there. Nothing wrong with that.
I suppose it’s true a compilation leaving you wanting more is a good thing, but even more than I want more from these artists, I want to hear what more bands out there are doing. I know that’s about as difficult as following a trail of MySpace friends, but if you’re going to gather groups from your given area, doesn’t it make sense to show as many as possible? There are arguments either way. Good thing Northwest Mind Meld rocks and I don’t have to think too hard about these burning questions.
Tags: Golden Pig Electric Blues Band, Mos Generator, Seattle, Skullbot, Small Stone, The Valley, Valis