by Jason Hoffman
Call it a hunch but I’m willing to bet that Kevin Hambrick, the lone creative force behind Blueberry Hurricane, has more than the national average of lava lamps around his comfy abode. From the moment the first note hits your ears until the last nuance of sound finishes vibrating your eardrum, you’ll be immersed in a wash of retro late-60s sound. Hambrick’s Lennonish voice only adds to this mystique, as do the vintage instruments and excellent period recording sound captured so perfectly by Soundmill Recordings. The opening song is a glorious train wreck of psychedelic, Doors-induced vibe with lots of wailing, bluesy guitars. “Crying in My Sleep” was an early favorite with a George Harrison feel, double-tracked vocals, excellent fuzzy 60s guitar and some dead-on songwriting. In “So Exhausting Being Me,” Hambrick layers an effected vocal over a freaky reversed guitar track. There’s a lot going on in this two-minute song with dueling vocals, keyboards and heaps of lean guitars. “I’m Not My Music” finds Hambrick back in full Lennon-mode with such twisting lines as “I’m not my music/ The music is me/ And sometimes it’s all that I have” sung with a very intriguing melody and some ballsy, blues guitar riffing. With its irregular meter, adventurous use of rhythm and intentionally rough edges, “Venice” reminded me of the two early Zappa-era Alice Cooper albums, which is to say that I liked it a lot. “Goin Down” gets even stranger with a sparse mix of vocals, warbly guitars and a backward something keeping beat. Good stuff, Maynerd!
My only beef with this album is the length. These 10 pop gems add up to less than 30 minutes. Yes, they are 30 wonderful minutes, full of the same easy, experimental feel that was characteristic of some of the best music from the late 60s, but the album ends with you wanting more. I guess this is better than the other extreme and since he played every instrument on the album (my guess is that each two-minute song took many multi-tracked hours to record) such brevity is excusable. The songs are exceptionally well-written, full of catchy hooks and startling changes.
Hats must also go off to Soundmill Recordings for so effectively capturing the authentic 60s guitar and vocal tones. For fans of psychedelia and good pop rock, this album is definitely worth the drive to a nearby Wooden Nickel Records store.
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