12:31AM - Their budget is by no means the highest, and at one point, the video seems to just cut to a shot of a dude rubbing his sword in the woods — why does everything sound like euphemism to me lately? — but frankly, it’s precisely acts like Dali’s Llama who I find most inspiring. The Palm Springs outfit led by Zach (guitar/vocals) and Erica (bass) Huskey have been at it for 20 years, have shown no sign of slowing down, and continue on with what drives them regardless of trend, promotion or anything else. They play out in the desert, but don’t really tour, and they release albums on the regular of quality tracks put to tape on their own terms and released through their own label. We should all be so independently motivated.
And by we, I mean me. Because you’re independently motivated, out there, making things happen. Me, well — to me, my laptop — like Silver Surfer and his board, long ago, Galactus decreed that I’d be tethered to this thing and that’s kind of how it’s worked out ever since. I doubt Joe Satriani will write a record about it, but having occasion to run into an act like Dali’s Llama every now and again, who so much epitomize the ideal of creating and following your own path, it makes me want to follow my own. I’m not just blowing smoke up the band’s ass either — no reason to, really — I think that in the whole time I’ve been running this site they’re one of the most admirable acts I’ve been fortunate enough to come across. Further, their last record, Autumn Woods (review here), was the most realized yet of the ones I’ve heard in their 11-strong discography.
It’s short, but the track “Bad Dreams” comes from that record, and you’ll find the video for it below. Enjoy:
Posted in Reviews on December 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Undervalued stalwarts Dali’s Llama are the kind of band that 15 years from now someone’s going to make a documentary about. And rightly so. The largely-unpromoted desert rocking Palm Springs, California, foursome will celebrate two full decades of existence in 2013, and they hit that anniversary behind the release of their beefy 10th (or possibly 11th) album, Autumn Woods. As always, they’ve issued the disc via their own Dali’s Llama Records, and where their prior outing, 2010’s Howl Do You Do? (review here), saw them step outside of their long-since established desert blues rock aesthetic, and frontman Zach Huskey (vocals/guitar) veered even further away from Dali’s Llama in 2011 with the heavy rocking side-project Ogressa’s Warts and All debut (review here), Autumn Woods makes for an excellent homecoming while still providing a twist on the more trademark desert-isms of records like 2009’s Raw is Real (review here) or the prior Full on Dunes (review here). As one might be able to glean from looking at bassist Erica Huskey in the photo on the album’s cover – clad in a cape and peeking out from behind a tree to look at the sky while drummer Craig Brown, her guitarist/vocalist/husband Zach, and guitarist Joe Wangler stand out front – not to mention the title itself, Autumn Woods is less about desert sands than it is darker atmospheres derived from classic metal. Dali’s Llama aren’t about to start writing about castles, steeds or epic battles, but filtering thicker distortion and more metallic atmospheres through their inherent desertitude (*copyright The Obelisk 2012), the Huskeys, Wangler and Brown both return to their musical roots and stem from them in a new and exciting way. A production job from none other than Scott Reeder presents Dali’s Llama with suitable tonal thickness on cuts like “The Gods” or the 9:36 centerpiece title-track, but still leaves the band room to move in terms of tempo, as they do on the punkier opener “Bad Dreams” or later “P.O.A.,” which starts off with a near-thrash intensity before cutting the pace for a more grooving second half… of its total 1:26.
That’s one thing that’s always been true of Dali’s Llama since I first encountered them: they are remarkably efficient. Like Howl Do You Do? was with its focus on classic horror punk and alternate reality early ‘60s surf, Autumn Woods sounds like an album approached with a specific sonic concept in mind, i.e. someone in the band saying, “Let’s make a record that sounds like this.” And they do. Top to bottom, Autumn Woods retains Dali’s Llama’s characteristic lack of pretense even as it’s based entirely on one – namely, that they’re a metal band. Of course, they’re not a metal band, and through Zach lets out a scream before the apex of penultimate track “O.K. Freak Out,” at their core, they’re still playing heavy desert rock and they retain the penchant for wah, for rolling groove and for classic rock structures led by riffs. No complaints at that. Catchy highlights “Goatface,” “Nostalgia” – on which cleaner vocals top a more open verse before the chorus takes flight – and the later Sabbathian “The Gods” provide landmarks around the title-track, and each song presents a personality of its own despite sharing the elements of chugging guitar, straightforward vibes and variations on Zach’s punker-bluesman’s snarl. The lead lines in “Blowholes and Fur” seem to nod at Deep Purple’s “Woman from Tokyo,” but even this Dali’s Llama work quickly to make their own, and while it’s a strong and distinguishable instrumental hook, the context they give it makes all the difference, accompanying a meaty chug made even thicker by Erica’s concurrent low end work. Even on “Autumn Woods,” I wouldn’t call them showy, but the extended cut (the next closest is “O.K. Freak Out” at 5:22, though “The Gods,” which follows, also hits 5:19) does give them room to range as far as they’d like, which structurally is something of a departure, despite Zach’s croon tying the early verses to the rest of the album and indeed to Dali’s Llama’s already formidable discography. The chief difference seems to be a sense of patience that a lot of the songs – derived from grown-up punk as so much heavy rock is; ask Fatso Jetson if you don’t believe me – eschew. Very subtly, the four-piece move into a darker soft of jam from the initial verses, letting a slower jam take hold amid Danzig-style atmospherics and a gradual push.