Review Summary: Bold as the desert, hot as the sun
The busiest man in desert rock has seen his legacy grow and crumble more times that he probably wanted. Not satisfied with being responsible for fathering a whole genre with the legendary Kyuss, John Garcia stepped into the new century with a plethora of exciting bands and projects: Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano and Vista Chino (formerly a Kyuss' greatest hits carnival infamously titled Kyuss Lives!) were some of the adventures that kept Garcia's engine burning fuel for the first years of the 2000s. These were also years generously spend collaborating with an ever-growing list of artists, from Orange Goblin to Danko Jones or Mondo Generator, the latter featuring original Kyuss members.
Since that time, and after a first modest solo album under his own name in 2014, Garcia had turned off the switch for a while, sprouting an acoustic album titled The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues
that included some interesting interpretations of Kyuss classics as well as his own songs. Tracing back to his roots, he tried to build a studio of his own from the get go. It was an idea that it seems brought him more grief than joy, and the prospect of a brand new "electric" release slowly vanished in a sand storm of studio politics. In short, it didn't work out. After the wreckage, as Garcia has declared himself, he wisely contacted old friend Chris Goss, former Kyuss producer as well as the mastermind behind many landmarks albums of stoner rock and guitarist of rock godfathers Masters of Reality. Goss was brought into the mix to infuse new blood and eventually, together with Garcia, they managed to reanimate the once forsaken project.
The result speaks for itself: John Garcia sounds great here, like fresh off the Kyuss age. The unique tone of his voice has suffered considerably less than it should after almost 30 years of rough, smoking hot singing. In addition, his songwriting skills leave nothing to be desired when listening to the eleven tracks that conform John Garcia and the Band of Gold
. The material is on par with his best work with former bands Slo Burn or Unida but, realistically, without reaching the extraordinary heights of Kyuss.
"Space Vato" shows promise right off the bat, introducing the album with a short but intense burst of stoner rock, although it quickly slows things down when first single "Jim's Whiskers" knocks on the door. Garcia plays with this dynamic throughout the whole album, pulling the reins when it's clear that the Band of Gold wants to run free and just get wild. This cautious control over the band's game tames what could have been a wilder whirl, but it somehow adheres to the "simpler is better" motto that Garcia wanted for this album. On the other hand, his latest release sounds as heavy and brash as it should, and songs like "My Everything", "Don't Even Think About It" or "Popcorn (Hit Me When You Can)" will surely put a smile in your face if you have ever trembled with the impossibly charming sound of Kyuss.
John Garcia and the Band of Gold
slide down the sands of nostalgia hoarding everything that made the iconic frontman one of the most recognizable voices in rock history, backed by a solid band that know their role, and that is more than capable of delivering a fairly decent blend of stoner and classic rock'n'roll without any superfluous embellishment. It’s this time of the year and the snows of winter are already melting. John Garcia has spoken.