Warlocks, Gris Gris | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Warlocks, Gris Gris 

Though psych quartet the GRIS GRIS are from the Bay Area, a region known for producing bands with hypnotizing licks and epic space jams, their sound is rooted elsewhere. Their second long player, For the Season (Birdman), tokes heavily upon the sounds of the late-60s south, especially the 13th Floor Elevators and the gurgling swamp haze of early Dr. John (from whose classic 1968 album the group takes its name). The album was written and recorded over three months in a cabin on some wooded acreage in Kosse, Texas, about 45 miles southeast of Waco. Side one is a song suite, a gloriously damaged collage of jammy jangle held together with megadoses of tremolo. Throbbing B3 organ drones and slow midnight boogie ramble together in weird ditties about doin' it, contentious relationships with "the pigs," and end-time blooze. Singer and songwriter Greg Ashley seems preoccupied with apocalyptic visions, judging from the biblical prophecy of "Down With Jesus" and the dark chorale of "Big Engine Nazi Kid Daydream," which contains one of the weirdest analogies put to tape in some time: "Lead the pilgrim to the slaughter / Like a circumcision doctor." Ewww. --Jessica Hopper

California psych band the WARLOCKS are definitely taking a fork in the road on their new album, Surgery (Mute), but they're not moving in a new direction so much as following up on some of the sounds on 2002's The Phoenix Album. Unfortunately it's not the more promising ones they're following up: at its worst, Surgery is overly cautious and conventional psych pop burdened by a completely inappropriate amount of introspective self-pity. It's best when the psychedelic drone rock the band almost mastered early on in their career takes over and searing guitar dries out the worst of the oversaturated sop. But since this is a band that's built its reputation more on live shows than recordings, their odds for redemption onstage are a good deal better than even. --Monica Kendrick

The Warlocks headline, the Gris Gris plays second, and Miss Alex White & the Red Orchestra open. Fri 10/21, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $14, 18+.

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