The Loons – Inside Out Your Mind (2015) review
The Loons on Bomp Records! Their best effort yet!
‘Inside Out Your Mind’ by The Loons (Bomp Records BLP4103-1, 2015)
It has been five years since The Loons released their third album ‘Red Dissolving Rays Of Light’ in 2010 on Greg Shaw’s Bomp Records. The band’s newest LP and CD ‘Inside Out Your Mind’ is likewise on the Bomp label and is their best album to date, no small claim on my part but….
‘Inside Out Your Mind’ is the third album recorded by the band’s present lineup of Mike Stax on vocals, wife Anja Stax on bass and vocals, Marc Schroeder and Chris Marsteller on guitars, the latter also contributing keyboards and Mike Kamoo on drums. With each successive recording the band seems to grow in confidence and performance as witnessed by the absolute vice grip bassist Anja Stax and drummer Mike Kamoo have on the band’s bottom end sound and the incredible ease with which Marsteller and Schroeder’s guitars complement each other.
The versatility of The Loons is obvious from the get go as the album’s opener ‘Siren City’ is a stomping little number with subtle lead guitar, infectious riff and irresistible hook. In other words the perfect two and a half minute single (ah, do I miss those) complete with an understated guitar solo all of which bring visions of the late Alex Chilton and Big Star to mind. The versatility of the band becomes obvious with the second track ‘Moon And Tide’ a delicate mixture of gently lilting guitars and ethereal vocals reminiscent of Michael Stipe’s early IRS recordings with REM. The guitar solo at the 2:15 mark builds ever so understatedly while driving the beat to the finish. The album’s title track’s gorgeous lead guitar line lie just beneath Mike Stax’s haunting vocals in the mix, while Anja Stax’s bass bounces, a la John Entwistle, loping over top of the other instruments. Two minutes in there is a driving guitar solo accompanied by Kamoo’s machine gun drums. The song’s bouncing beat can’t help but make you nod your head, tap your toes and sing along! ‘Out Of Frame’ has an insistent beat with rolling guitars and vocal harmonies. Just short of the two minute mark the song becomes a piece of psychedelic folk with the electric guitars reminding listeners of the garage/psych nature of the band. Kamoo’s drums are especially tasty on this number as are Stax’s lead vocals. Anja Stax’s bass introduces ‘Cruel Grey Fog’ joined shortly by vocals reminiscent of Roger Daltrey and a heavy driving beat led by Kamoo. Gorgeously distorted guitars lead the way to an all out rave up with racing drums and a stunning guitar solo. ‘Silence’ is an acoustic number reminiscent of Tim Harden, Donovan or Simon and Garfunkel. The tempo picks up to a marching beat bringing Phil Ochs to mind as side one of the album comes to a close.
Side two opens with ‘My Desolation’ featuring Kamoo’s drum intro followed by a heavy guitar riff, chiming guitars evolving into aggressive lead lines with just the right touch of echo, a true mod rocker with Who-like vocals. Fuzzed out guitars roar over the fiery beat of up tempo rocker ‘I Don’t Live There Anymore’. Containing some of Stax’s best lyrics the tune is the tale of inevitable aging and self examination: “Cause twenty five years go by in a flash, Those times were too bad to last.” But it also offers hope in “I don’t live there anymore.” The delicate ‘Head In The Clouds’ is filled with restrained guitars and features a string arrangement by Marsteller. Again Stax’s gorgeous vocals bring visions of a young Michael Stipe to mind. A snappy rock number, ‘Transparent Eyes’ features fuzz filled guitars and has a Rolling Stones feel to it. The song offers yet another monster guitar solo. The album’s closer and its magnum opus ‘As The Raven Flies’ is filled with overdubbed guitars, a driving beat and beautifully echoed vocals. The tempo speeds as the song progresses, then takes a Who-like acoustic break about three minutes in followed by a nod to The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ before the band returns to the tune’s original riff as it gradually fades, the perfect ending to an absolutely wonderful LP!
Anyone familiar with The Loons will already know how essential this latest documentation of their music is to psych/garage fans everywhere. If you are not familiar with The Loons there is no time like the present to get to know them and their music!
Review made by Kevin Rathert/2015
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