Friday Full-Length: Elvis Deluxe, Lazy

I always thought these guys had another album in them. Elvis Deluxe formed in 2002, concurrent to acts like Sweden’s Dozer from whose earliest work they took some notable influence, and while they by no means were the first Polish heavy rock band, their 2007 debut album, Lazy (review here) was in conversation with desert-style rock in a way that was an early arriver to the shifts in international creativity that the internet provided. In the era of bands flourishing by finding friends on MySpace — the quaint notion of a social media company actually allowing streams on a page — Elvis Deluxe were fuzzy and classic-swinging and, yeah, maybe more than a little stoned; a precursor to some extent of the modern Polish heavy rock scene, which is among Europe’s most vital in line with Greece, the UK, Germany, and so on.

During their time, which was relatively short, they offered up three albums — Lazy, 2011’s brilliant-yes-I-mean-that Favourite State of Mind, and 2013’s The Story So Far (review here), which was a mix of songs recorded live in the studio in 2012, demos from 2003, and a Stooges cover compiled — and seemed to be fading out from the vanguard just as Polish heavy began to flourish with the rise of bands like Belzebong, Satellite Beaver (who’d become Sunnata) and Dopelord, among others.

The band for Lazy‘s 10-song/40-minute run was the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Wojciech Ziemba, guitarists Tomasz “Bolek” Sierajewski and Marcin “Mechu” Hejak and drummer Mikołaj “Miko” Malanowski, and the work of the latter is particularly crucial. Not devaluing any performance here — how could I as “27” imagines Fredrik Nordin fronting Fu Manchu and “Money to Burn” rolls its second-half jam to a finish like a lost Kyuss B-side? — but as most of the album’s tracks run in the three-to-four-minute range, there’s an abiding sense of casual cool, and it’s rooted in the swing of Malanowski‘s drums before it can be built on with the deceptively light fuzz in the guitars as bolstered by the bass and the laid-back delivery of Ziemba‘s vocals.

From the loud-then-quiet noise that introduces opening track “Superorfeo,” which is among the speedier of the pieces included, through the breaking-apart wash that is the culmination of Lazy in closer “Between Heaven and Hell,” the band does nothing so much as toss off one memorable song after another like it’s no big deal, the second track “Extraterrestrial Hideout Seeker” emblematic of their ability to take garage rock push and desert tonality with more than an edge of swagger and build songs that, while largely traditional in their verse-chorus structures, nonetheless felt open and languid regardless of tempo, resulting in a vibe that was all Elvis Deluxe‘s own and that few bands I’ve come across from Poland or otherwise have been able to capture in quite the same way. If it needs to be said — and over 15 years later, maybe it does — the album was not lazy. In fact it was rife with movement.

elvis deluxe lazyTo wit, the count-in-and-go of “Perfect Ride,” which sets its ambition in its title, is one of the more punkish cuts, maybe a bit of Demon Cleaner or Lowrider in there, as it definitely sounds aware of what stoner rock was at this point, but turned toward its own purposes, and off at a solid clip to do so. After the start-stop-and-roll of “27,” the outright nod of “Sleep Brings No Relief” taps …And the Circus Leaves Town-style bounce, but is given hints of psychedelia by the vocals, which sweetly contrast some of the rougher fuzz in the guitar and the buzzsaw wah solo (actually solos, since there are two lead layers there) that follows while the drums hold down the central progression they started with as though waiting for everyone else to rally around the verse again, which of course they do before a full-on distortion-wall push into a final chorus.

The subsequent “For the Soul” blends thrust and a tension-release bridge that’s not quite a chorus but not quite not, the mellow vocals pulling back from the harder delivery of the verse, the riff of which is delightfully twisty boogie rock, before it opens up again, resolidifying for its final stretch, topped with either synth or effects for good measure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Ready to Rage” goes even faster, and underscores its urgency with Little Richard piano strikes in its culmination, crashing out ahead of “Money to Burn” which starts with the bass and drums and is the longest track at a still-manageable 6:49, using that time to showcase nearly every strength that has worked to Lazy‘s benefit thus far, including a bit of weirdo jamming skillfully brought around to a righteous but not overblown finish.

Placed between that jam and the closer, “The Mountain” feels somewhat like an afterthought, but isn’t, as the second half of the song reveals another highlight melody in the layered vocals to go along with its engaging hook before giving over directly to “Between Heaven and Hell” as it might have done on stage. And “Between Heaven and Hell” is blown out even before its blowout, rising to a crescendo of noise that borders on the caustic before it fades out to cap the record. Even in that moment, Elvis Deluxe maintain their complete lack of pretense and easygoing mentality — like, “Oh the universe is collapsing on itself now? yeah that’s fine” — to the very last, letting it be a defining aspect of a debut that demonstrates nothing if not a purposeful declaration of who they were as a band.

And again, they’d build on that with Favourite State of Mind before the kind-of half-album that was The Story So Far, and to me, their second record always seemed to call for more of a follow-up than it got. Everybody is still alive and active musically, so never say never. Ziemba currently plays in The Heavy CloudsMalanowski is in Wij, and Wojciech “Bert Trust” Trusewicz, who took over on guitar for Hejak in 2010, is in the Warsaw Afrobeat Orchestra, while Sierajewski started the hardcore punk outfit Czerwone Świnie in 2019. It’s not impossible they could come back together at some point — certainly there are many from their time doing so now, be it Mammoth VolumeJosiah or the aforementioned Lowrider and Dozer — and if they did, it would be a welcome return to be sure, and one would hope they’d get a bit of the respect at last that this record and the rest of their studio work diligently earned.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Good morning. Everybody’s up. I got up at 4 with the alarm, The Pecan got up at 5:30, The Patient Mrs. about 15 minutes after that. It’s about 6:10 now and I’m just happy I managed to get the above done. These mornings I take what I can get.

Yesterday was a trip. I woke up at 2:30AM to go to the bathroom like the old man that I am — at least I woke up — and never got back to sleep. The kid took a Tae Kwon Do lesson yesterday afternoon — which he fucking loved — and it was a trip to be sure. Fun fact: I also did Tae Kwon Do for a few years as a kid, and unbeknownst to me, The Patient Mrs. booked him at the same school I went to when I was young. So I’m sitting there while the master is teaching The Pecan how to do a high block and I’m having flashbacks to when I was a little older than him doing the same thing. Different teacher, obviously. But yeah, weird. He wants to take classes. They’re expensive. We’ll see what happens.

This weekend is The Patient Mrs.’ birthday. I bought her present shortly after Xmas and it’s been nice to have that taken care of rather than hanging over my god damned head like it otherwise would be. We’re having my family over, as we will, while her sister and her sister’s family will come down from Connecticut next weekend. Gonna be a lot, but a hoot, which is pretty much how it goes with the loved ones. My entire family gets high now, which I think is hilarious. If you’d told my 18-year-old, just-got-busted-for-possession ass that someday I’d be asking my mom if she needs any edibles, well, I might believe it but I’d certainly be more pissed about having gotten arrested in the first place back then. But anyway, the slowdown of anxiety and general brain intensity is good for all of us, I think. I’ll gladly slough deeper into middle age with a goofy grin rather than my generally wretched, cruelly lucid state of self-loathing. Largely to myself, I’ve been thinking of it as a brain break, and in that regard, it both feels better and is more effective than xanax.

Next week is packed. I’m triple-booked for Tuesday, which is Valentine’s Day. Lot of love to go around, apparently. The rest of the week is full too, which is daunting but barring disaster I should be able to get through it alright. Does not allow for much fuckoff time, though, which is like mana to me. Also a Gimme Metal show next Friday, so I need to turn that in, and the PostWax liner notes for the REZN/Vinnum Sabbathi collaboration are coming due this weekend. I’ve only been talking about needing to bang those out for, oh, four months or so, so yes, it’s probably time to do so. I’ve also just been asked to finish an interview I started a while back that goes pretty deep into some of the back end work involved in this site and my personal history, so yeah. Busy, I guess, is the bottom line. Apparently that’s how I like it. Who doesn’t want to feel completely overwhelmed like all the time? Certainly no one I know.

Did you listen to that Westing track? Did you listen to Polymoon? Bastard Sword earlier today? I’ve resolved to dedicate more of my time to albums I choose rather than what comes across in premiere pitches and things like that, so that’s how you get Polymoon and Mathew’s Hidden Museum at the start of this week. I’ve been feeling a bit like I’m shouting into the void about records like that, but I’m enjoying writing about them, and in the next few weeks as we move into March, I’ve locked in album streams for the aforementioned REZN, Sandrider and Stoned Jesus, among others, and those are three of the best records I’ve heard so far this year, so I’m stoked on the alignment there. This coming week, I’ll also premiere a video from The Machine’s new LP, which is a gem. That’s one of the three slated for Tuesday. Indeed, lovely.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, hydrate, watch your head, get laid if you can and the vibe is right. I’ll be back on Monday with a L’Ira del Baccano video premiere and more besides. Good stuff to come. Thanks again for reading.


The Obelisk Collective on Facebook

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

Tags: , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Friday Full-Length: Elvis Deluxe, Lazy

  1. Nick says:

    Good choice on the priorizing the shit you enjoy to what comes across your your “desk.” Also, I believe you would never entertain such a premise: I would contribute money to ensure your kid continues expensive classes he loves. You could easily monetize what you do for free (your opinions are appreciated regardless). I’d send a private email, but that doesn’t work for some reason.

Leave a Reply