Friday Full-Length: Bridge Farmers, Bridge Farmers

Sometimes someone puts you onto a band and it leaves you utterly flat. Sometimes someone puts you onto a band and you play it and find out it’s a massive-sounding collection of fuzz-drenched stoner metal roll with psychedelic flourish and noisy roots that spread out across six tracks on a 43-minute long-player that actually turns out to be a bit of a gem. Well hi, Bridge Farmers.

The Austin, Texas-based sludge rocking three-piece were brought to my attention last week with a pointing finger directed at their 2018 self-titled. The band, who of course are not to be confused with New York doomers Blood Farmers — we’re farming infrastructure here, remember — released their debut album, Din of Celestial Birds in 2010, and have little in common with the similarly-named NYC outfit in terms of methodology other than being trios. Bridge Farmers, with the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Tyler Hautala, bassist Garett Carr and drummer Kyle Rice, have a few other short offerings on their collective CV — a cover of Pink Floyd‘s “The Nile Song” in early 2020, a live record, Live at the Electric Church (you might recall fellow Austinites Duel released a set from the same venue in 2018), as the world shut itself down that Spring, an earlier two-songer from June 2016 and a concurrent single, “Wicked Sun,” which opens side B here. They are, in short, a band who made an album that someone told me I should check out. That happens from time to time, and if I’m lucky, it works out this well.

Bridge Farmers‘ Bridge Farmers, released only on LP/DL, basks in many elements that to current heavy heads will ring familiar. Throughout the record, there are shades of Electric Wizard (early and later, if you want to trace some of the shoutier vocals), MonolordSleep and Matt Pike more generally — opener “The Source” reminds somewhat of High on Fire‘s “Madness of an Architect” in the pattern of its riff — as well as more lurch-prone psychedelia later on in the gleefully blown-out penultimate cut “Death Moon” and the noisy back-end of subsequent finale “Pyramids of Montauk,” and of course Black Sabbath in the shuffle-under-a-dual-channel-guitar-solo crescendo of the closer’s side A counterpart, “Stoned Ape.”

Both of those tracks — “Stoned Ape” and “Pyramids of Montauk” — top 10 minutes long, where nothing else reaches six-point-five, so their placement at the culmination of each half of the record feels purposeful and the fact that they self-released it on vinyl instead of, say, cramming it all onto a CD and just telling people to pretend if was spinning slower or some such, speaks to that as well. They’re not the first band I’ve written about this week to set up an LP structure like this, and it’sBridge Farmers self-titled something likely to be encountered next week as well, but even the idea of that division works in Bridge Farmers‘ favor in terms of how the songs feed into each other. It’s a time-tested method put to good use.

With “The Source” and side B’s “Wicked Sun” and “Death Moon” all shortly over six minutes long, the real outlier on the record is second track “Phosphene Temple.” Sandwiched between “The Source” and “Stoned Ape,” it’s relatively in and out at 3:48, and though it’s not punk or anything, there is an added sense of urgency that comes from the kick in tempo compared to much of what surrounds. It picks up from residual feedback and ends in — wait for it — residual noise before “Stoned Ape” announces itself with a riff that seems to lumber even without drums pushing it from behind, and during its stretch, the band maintain the weight of those other songs while making it move in a way that they’re just not universally interested in doing, and fair enough for changing it up. What ultimately unites “Phosphene Temple” with the rest of the album on which it features is the outright bite of its tonality and the somewhat chaotic atmosphere that creates across the board.

Since the self-titled  followed eight years after the first, some change in methodology could hardly be called unreasonable, but it’s striking how much harder Bridge Farmers hits in comparison to Din of Celestial Birds, which sounds much clearer on the whole. Both the aforementioned 2016 two-songer, Frater Achad​/​Feast of Flesh, and that same year’s version of “Wicked Sun” have kind of a demo, live-in-the-room sound to them (whether or not they were recorded live in the rehearsal space, I don’t know), but even before one gets to the sheer amount of noise and feedback pushed into these tracks — which puts you about as far as the intro to “The Source,” where a harsh ring of feedback features before the verse starts — the fullness of the guitar and bass is a distinct departure from Bridge Farmers circa 2010. Whatever might be behind that shift, if it’s change in personnel or more general mindset, I don’t know. Again, someone just told me to check out this band — thanks, Marzia — and I did. You can hit them up and find out how come they got so mean toward the end of the decade.

Before you do, make sure you give due attention to the semi-psych reach of “Death Moon.” It shows itself first in the lead guitar atop a steady-as-ever mid-paced nodder of a groove, and comes around again to some degree in the song’s second half. This pairs “Death Moon” — that’s not a space station! — with  “Pyramids of Montauk,” which is as righteous a finale as one could hope to encounter tucked away under all that riffy morass. The vocals seem to cut through more in the early verses, no less hypnotic than the crash behind, and while the noise quotient is maintained — as, by the way, one would hope; please don’t read any of this as complaint about too much noise; noise it up, noisemakers — there’s breadth enough to set up well the shift the track makes before the five-minute mark, beginning an outward roll from which it’s readily apparent they’re not coming back.

First it gets fast and loud, then it gets delightfully weird, and they slow down again as they end it — classic move — but that shove is effective in adding to the overarching spaciousness that in there in some of the material, despite the somewhat manic cast of that moment. That is, it’s stars exploding, not zero-gravity drift, and the band’s willingness to not only call back to “Phosphene Temple” in terms of pacing but add a hint of something new while doing so makes the finish all the more satisfying.

I was told to listen and I’m glad I did. I’m writing about Bridge Farmers now in the hope that maybe the same will be the case for you.

Thanks for reading.

I’m writing to you from gate 63 at terminal B of Newark Liberty Airport. In about two hours, I’ll board SAS flight SK 904 to Stockholm, Sweden, where this weekend I’ll attend Truckfighters Fuzz Festival #3 (info here) in the company of New York’s Kings Destroy, with whom I’m traveling. This will be my first time in Sweden, and to say I’m looking forward to actually setting foot in the country that has produced so much of the music I love — from Dozer and Greenleaf and Truckfighters, who are playing, to perhaps actually hundreds of other bands through the ages — is me trying to play it cool. In what is probably no longer the parlance of our times, I’m stoked.

Until about the middle of last week, I thought this trip was happening next week — the 16th and 17th for the fest instead of the 9th and 10th — and so the last few days have been a bit hairy as I’ve gone from getting home from Richmond, Virginia, on Sunday after attending the Alabama Thunderpussy reunion the night before to getting myself packed and ready to roll out today, which is Thursday. But I’m here. I’m pretty sure I packed enough crap, and if not, I hear that major urban centers around the world are stocked with, you know, more crap. So yes, even if it’s been a crunch to prepare, and even if I feel that much more guilt for being apart from The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan two weekends in a row I’m excited for what’s to come, musically at the fest, seeing people, hopefully seeing a bit of the city on Sunday before I leave first thing Monday morning local time.

I’m reviewing the fest, of course. I’ll try to post some photos on socials if I get anything decent, and the reviews of each night will be up Monday and Tuesday, respectively. I know, what happened to posting on the weekend, dude? Been doing too much of that shit, and I feel like the gains are minimal. Plus, with the way my travel schedule is, it gives me something to have for the first part of the week, since in terms of writing ahead of time, I essentially lose both Monday and Tuesday to travel. I’ll be back in New Jersey on Monday afternoon, barring disaster, but I neither expect to be able to nor will I likely have the brain power to take my laptop out and start working on a review first thing through the door. There’s gonna be dishes to do, I already know. It’s fine, Wendy. I get it. We’re all doing our best.

So I’ll post the review of the second day of Fuzz Festival on Tuesday from home, and that morning, slip back into the routine of getting up early to work on reviews and other whatnot. It is my sincere hope that by Wednesday I’m back up to a normal amount of posting, and I remain fully aware that if that doesn’t happen, I am the only person who gives even the remotest semblance of a crap.

To follow-up: last week I was feeling pretty down. Down on this site, down on things more generally in my day-to-day, down on me, etc. I got a few supportive comments and a few encouraging emails from people and I want to say thanks to everybody who reached out. I didn’t have that in mind when I was writing last Friday, but it means a lot to know that someone’s out there and cares enough to get in touch. If that was you, and it very well might’ve been since I don’t think a lot of people read these posts this far down, thank you.

Today (Friday) is a new episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Metal. If you want a preview of some of what will feature around here in year-end coverage, tune in. 2PM Pacific, 5PM Eastern. Free to listen on their app or

Thanks if you check that out, thanks to everyone who’s contributed to the Best of 2022 Poll, and thanks to you for reading.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. We’re getting on holiday time. If you need a mental health break, take it (he said frantically typing so he can finish this post before his group boards the plane). Otherwise, check back Monday for Fuzz Festival coverage and a whole bunch of other adventures to come.


The Obelisk Collective on Facebook

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

Tags: , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Friday Full-Length: Bridge Farmers, Bridge Farmers

  1. Matt says:

    For what it’s worth, I read that far down every Friday.
    Safe travels, and thank you for continuing to spread the good word of the almighty riff.

  2. Lord Straxus says:

    JJ, every Friday I look forward to your album of the week and new musical discoveries (or perhaps a return to good old records that patiently wait for taking them for another spin). Your work and dedication to this blog is greatly appreciated.

  3. GT says:

    I’m glad you feel the love JJ.
    Friday Full-Length is great for shit I’ve missed over the years. And I do enjoy the catch ups and whats coming up – looking forward to the Fuzz Festival write up. Enjoy the Fuzz!

Leave a Reply