The Upshot: Psychedelic gem wherein all the cranial pleasure boxes get checked here, with revved-up raveups galore and a general vibe of joyful abandon at play throughout. Below, listen to some of the music via the Bandcamp app.
BY FRED MILLS
Shazam. That “5” out of 5 potential stars isn’t something I award lightly, but this platter’s an obvious future classic. Now, let it be acknowledged that it’s also journalistically dubious to quote from a band’s self-description, not to mention risky; Yo La Tengo used to submerge misinformation in their bios precisely to see what would get recycled as fact by the press, and sure enough, a number of foreign journalists who perhaps didn’t know any better took the bait. Here, though, I so wholeheartedly agree with said self-description, in classic wish-I’d-said-that style, that I see no point in going to the trouble of what would ultimately be a paraphrase.
Uttereth this San Jose-based outfit:
“The Gentle Cycle is utilizing vintage gear and a bygone recording ethos to birth a swirling, grooving style of rock ‘n’ roll that’s both timeless and relevant. The band come from an abstract foundation that’s more modern & forward thinking than most musicians beholden to period-correct tones. The Gentle Cycle balances universal emotions with astral, atmospheric sonic architecture.”
Damn. Wish I’d said that… What I will say, then, is that guitarist Derek See, having woodshedded with the latterday reincarnation of fellow San Jose icons the Chocolate Watchband, the Bang Girl Group, Joel Gion (Brian Jonestown Massacre), and more, finally makes his official debut as bandleader on The Gentle Cycle’s eponymous debut. It’s a delightfully rocking, ramshackle exploration of time and space via the inner eye, loaded with echoey, reverbed, and flanged guitar riffs, rough ‘n’ tumble rhythms, and cosmic lyrical ruminations—at least one foot and one paw firmly clutching the late ‘60s, while staking out a claim with the other pair of appendages as a contemporary avatar of all that is wylde and psychedelic.
From the throbbing orgaz-mo-tronic opening track “Follow Light,” which is all tumbling drums and clanging, cavern-filling riffage, and the fuzzed-out, Spacemen 3-esque overdrive of “Memory Day”; to the rippling, acoustic-based modal twang ‘n’ jangle of “Way to Decay” and the lengthy, hypnotic “Far Beyond,” a classic slice of Feelies-do-Velvets drone-choogle (there’s some Television worship in the guitar leads as well); The Gentle Cycle is as impressive a debut album as I’ve heard in eons. All the cranial pleasure boxes get checked here, with revved-up raveups galore and a general vibe of joyful abandon at play throughout. Hands down, yours truly’s favorite new release for 2017 thus far.
There doesn’t seem to ba a wealth of info out there on the band yet. Willfully obscure or mystique-fostering? Who know? Who cares! Head straight to the Bandcamp link listed above and grab this slab of wax pronto, before the secret gets out and all 309 copies are gone. The limited-to-200 green vinyl edition is apparently sold out, but there may still be a few of the 109 black vinyl left. Plus digital, of course. And take note: according to the Gentle Cycle Facebook page, if you donate to Planned Parenthood, Dakota Access Pipeline Fund, PBS, Oxfam or the ACLU, they’ll send you a copy of the LP ($18 or more donation), or a download ($5 donation). How cool is that?
DOWNLOAD: Not a weak track, but if backed against a wall: “Far Beyond,” “She Came This Way,” “Memory Day”