Old Rituals Made New Again by Mondo Drag

Posted in Reviews on February 3rd, 2010 by JJ Koczan

With minds expanded and set to the key of retro, Davenport, Iowa — which for those in the know is called “the San Francisco of Iowa” (that’s not true) — the high toned Mondo Drag emerge bearing psychedelic sweets that seem to melt as soon as they hit your tongue. There are 11 of them, to be exact, and when packaged together and put in the right order, they make up the band’s Alive Records debut, New Rituals. It’s a record about as thick as the band’s collective sonic moustache, and right from the opening nine-minute title track, you know there’s a freakout bound to happen here.

Their heavier moments could be drawing from Graveyard or a less doomed-out Witchcraft, but as change-up tracks like the acoustic-led “Black River” or “Come Through” demonstrate, there’s more to Mondo Drag than mere aping of ‘70s proto metal. “Love Me” is laced with organ-fused heaviness, and “Serpent Shake” takes a later-‘60s acid pop feel, once again making use of the organ, but being more rhythm-driven and upbeat. The changes in attack are subtle, but show themselves more distinctly on repeat listens, and though I don’t know if any of the songs on New Rituals ever prove to be catchy in that “stuck in your head” sense of the word, there is a natural feel throughout the album that sustains the enjoyment level for the duration.

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