Austin four-, maybe five-piece Sweat Lodge will release their debut album, Talismana, via Ripple Music on Aug. 7. A vinyl-ready nine-track/35-minute offering, its unpretentious oldschool-is-the-new-newschool rollout owes some of its modus to West Coast boogie, but true to their Texan roots, the sound across songs like opening hook-megaphone “Tramplifier,” “Bed of Ashes” and “Phoenix Ascent” is somewhat earthier, touching on classic heavy rock and psychedelic influences but refusing to play entirely to one or the other. There are times when the lineup — vocalist Cody Lee Johnston, guitarists Javier Gardea and Dustin Anderson, bassist Austin Shockley and drummer Caleb Dawson — call to mind what might’ve happened had Freedom Hawk and Graveyard ever decided to collaborate, most especially on cuts like “Slow Burn” and “Black Horizon,” but though their ultimate path is straight ahead, the well-vested Sweat Lodge work enough swing and swagger into their approach across the board that the only real choice is to get down and go along for the ride.
They make it a worthy endeavor across the board, and while perhaps in part because of the title one might wait for Sweat Lodge to veer into some vague cultish theatrics, Talismana keeps its all-seeing eye on the prize of ’70s-ish biker motor-riffing and rhythmic sway, the title-track maybe touching lyrically on some of that finding itself fluidly enacting tempo shifts via either-call-it-stoner-or-don’t riffs and swirling leads and echoes. Like a lot of the record, it is not as simple as it first appears — a dreamout taking hold and liquefying the proceedings only to resolidify prior to the finish — but Sweat Lodge make short work of finding a cohesive vibe through such turns, nodding at Deep Purple with “Black Horizon” before the especially ’70s “Boogie Bride” takes hold as the longest cut on Talismana at a manageable 5:51, a summertime fuzz holding firm for the course even as the verses seem to be impatient in their move toward the inevitable leads, the two sides coming together ultimately as Johnston‘s vocals top the semi-psych apex and then let the rocker blues carry out to the whistling start of the penultimate “Heavy Head,” a somewhat more laid back mood but an irresistible roll all the same and one of the record’s catchiest moments.
This careening, deceptively efficient, swinging but not reckless and aesthetically coherent course ends out with “Banshee Call,” somewhat more atmospheric at its start and maybe a bit moodier but still nowhere near overblown. If anything, it underlines the control that Sweat Lodge exercise over the span of Talismana as a whole, which — especially considering it’s the band’s first full-length — is doubly impressive given how poised they manage to remain while letting loose.
I’m thrilled today to host a track premiere for “Heavy Head,” which you’ll find on the player below, followed by some more info off the PR wire.
The Austin, TX outfit have made good on their promise with a record that delivers more than you could possibly ever ask from it. Pillaging and plundering some of the most explosive eras of hard rock, heavy psychedelia and proto-metal with a conviction and execution rarely found this side of the millennium, in short, Sweat Lodge’s potential is one that knows no bounds.
Seizing on the southern grooves of Fu Manchu, Saint Vitus and the blues-driven majesty of 70s legends Mountain and fellow Texans ZZ Top, across Talismana – riff after punishing riff, howl after soulful howl – the vintage sound of rock ‘n’ roll reigns supreme, sparked through an engine of uncompromising youth. As anyone who witnessed the band’s debut TV appearance on Last Call With Carson Daly in March will testify, charismatic front man and vocalist Cody Lee Johnston’s ability to bring it on home is hypnotic. Backed by the gnarled bass fuzz of Austin Shockley, the Bonham-esque drum play of Caleb Dawson and guitar interplay of Javier Gardea and Dustin Anderson, the band will be unstoppable in 2015 and Talismana an essential record for fans of the genre.
Talismana by Sweat Lodge will be released on 7th August on Ripple Music.