Grimble Grumble - Leaves Leader
One of Chicago’s finest psychedelic space rock bands returns from a seven year itch with new guitarist Josh Hudson joining the core trio of drummer Mike Bulington, guitarist Saleem Dhamee and bassist/vocalist Christine Garcia. Leaves Leader is only their second full length, although numerous EPs, 45s and compilations are floating around out there for fanatics and completists to track down. Dhamee’s trademark intricate guitar lines once again form the framework for mellow, heavy-lidded excursions into dreamland with a slightly poppier exterior this time. Martinez’ slightly buried and muffled vocals recall Isobel Sollenberger’s somnambulist warbling, imbuing several tracks with a Bardo Pond vibe, although, like Liz Fraser (of Cocteau Twins) before her, it’s not what she says (the lyrics are fairly unintelligible), but how she says it that ultimately adds another instrument to the already heady mix.
While I’ve been frustrated by the Bardo’s recent unstructured excesses, the basic blueprint of the light and fluffy female vox lifting the heavy psychedelic sludge out of its muck and mire is something I enjoy and by reining in those excesses and providing more structure to the improvisational jams, Grimble Grumble succeed where the Bardos have left me cold, and Leaves Leader is certainly recommended to listeners in the same uncomfortable headspace.
The soft, cloud-floating vibe of “Wish Song” contrasts with the adrenaline-fueled “Casanova,” adding a welcome variety to the album, although the abrupt coda to the former may result in a bummer of a head crash. The dirgy, molasses crawl of “Intro” builds from its Stonesy “Moonlight Mile” opening to a pulsating, atomic-powered mindfuck before yielding to the acoustic strum of “Fall,” itself evolving into a scrunching, squawking, head-rattling guitar duel between Dhamee and Hudson with Martinez’ throbbing, Crazy Horse basslines bouncing your head off the walls. Fuck Pearl JamI want to hear Neil Young jam with these guys. I think you’ll also like the low-key swampy swagger of “Emma Sleeping Blues”sort of like Creedence on ‘ludes.
A welcome return and exciting addition to the collections of fans of Bardo Pond, Linus Pauling Quintet, Kinski, Paik and other heavy, psychedelic, predominantly instrumental jam bands.