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Psychlona / Palo Verde album of the year in the stoner rock/psych/doom scene

There is a creative trend happening in Generation 3.0 of the stoner rock/psych/doom scene. Album releases of bands in this expansive genre are not only getting better, but they are also still, collectively, finding new musical territories to dabble their passionate art in. Psychlona, hailing from the curry capital of the UK, Bradford, released their third effort this past August.

Psychlona – Palo Verde (Psycho Waxx)

Release Date: Out Now

Words: Sunil Singh

Like the complex and wild flavours that make the best staple of British cuisine, Psychlona has delivered an absolute smashing album of hot and spicy riffs, memorable musical shifts, and transcending instrumental parts.

Gasoline starts off the album in a surprisingly somewhat reserved gear, a curious intro that was light on musical salvo. Considering the band is known to have its musical sweet spot in all things fuzz and cactus-influenced, the restraint to not go guns a blazin’ on the first track would turn out to be a masterstroke upon listening to the whole album. That said, Gasoline is a catchy number that only gathers momentum throughout its length. It even sounds like there are some bouncy piano bits in the background.

Psychlona - Palo Verde
Psychlona Palo Verde

1975 starts off with another infectious hook, bouncing around with almost an accessible pop feel. That is all quickly erased as the band steers the song into its patented, relaxed grooves. Even by this second song, I can start to tell that Phil Hey’s vocals, with a tinge of needed gruff, have become more confident, leading the songs now, as to maybe being a happy passenger in the past.

“The video [1975] was shot under the masterful direction of Sam Drake,” guitarist Dave Wainfor says. “He really brings us all back to a time when distraction was never devoid of human connection. When rockers were good to each other, and music reigned supreme.”

In fact, the maturity of the whole band really shines on this number with the patience to draw out the middle part to a relaxed vibe of the era to which the song speaks. And, when the song checks back in with full band assault, only to quickly meander in some relaxed guitar noodling, you can only smile at the end.

While the first two songs got my head nodding, Rainbird’s airy exhale made me feel like I had been stoned for hours. Most of the song occupies a deep glaze. And then, Psychlona starts dealing their musical shifts out. Booster rockets are ignited. It’s a full-on space rock. You’re going to want to replay this song before moving forward. I sure did.

Meet The Devil makes no mistake in trying to paint the picture of where it wants you to be located, smack dab in the middle of the desert. The opening seconds feel like dusk. And, of course, when the band cranks it up, it pays homage to a band like Kyuss, but the song also has some pure Metal teeth. We aren’t even halfway through the album, and the band has only delivered aces. Whatever is the opposite of letdown is what happened next.

Up until now, my favourite Psychlona song was The Owl from their previous album, Venus Skytrip. That has changed because of Purple River. In fact, just in the first minute, my spidey senses felt something special come through the hypnotic opening. It is also important to mention that the album cover, gorgeous in every sense of the word, foretells the lysergic radiance inside. The 2022 Pyschlona vibe is exemplified by this song, which finds so many familiar edges of stoner rock and psychedelia.

Doesn’t matter what was going to follow. There was going to be an emotional drop-off after Purple River. And, maybe the band somehow knew this as they shifted gears–again–to something like an ’80s Gary Numan took hold of the Psychlona steering wheel. That is what Jet Plane initially sounded like before yielding to something, again, more Metal. The whole song is such a mashup of so many different sounds that you are diverted, at least temporarily, from how epic the previous song was. This could have been the throwaway song on the album. Far from it.

La Tolvarena brings the album back to the atmospheric feel of Rainbird and Purple River. And, somewhat ironically, it borrows some of the gliding speed and acceleration of The Owl in carrying the song’s groove. It ends with such interstellar majesty that you rightfully forget that Palo Verde has one more song. You also know it’s going to be a cracker of a closer.

Even though it is the last song on the album, Warped begins with a guitar that sounds like it is being tuned up, as if there is no rush to be anywhere.

The whole album is a testimonial to that patience and understanding of the importance of songs breathing with the barest of instrumentals. That organic playfulness sets up the song to showcase its final struts, which go barreling down desert highways with the historical sounds, tones, and nuances of all the trailblazing bands of the scene. And, in a few short years, especially after this release, they now have to be considered part of a pack that will lead the new generation.

Palo Verde must be at the top of the list of any Best of 2022 albums in this densely packed genre. It grooves. It punches. It ponders. Muchas gracias, Pyschlona! You’ve outdone yourselves on this one.

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