If one thing is certain about psychedelic rock and blues rock, it is that they will never die. Any style of music that can continue to pervade and influence some fifty or more years after bands started shoving them together in a drug-addled, scuzzy haze is obviously completely incapable of being killed off and might well outlive humanity. Until that day, we might as well continue to enjoy it, particularly when it comes to Stubb, a London three-piece comprising two members of the avant-garde grunge sludgers Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight (in the form of the rocking rhythm section of Chris West on drums and bassist Pete Holland) and guitarist and lead vocalist Jack Dickinson. Sent to me a few weeks ago by the band, ‘Stubb’, their debut album, is something of a diamond in the rough.
Proclaiming to be influenced by ‘heavy rock and psych from 60’s-70’s among other influences, Stubb originally formed in 2006 by now only original member Dickinson but it was only 2009 when the current line-up came together. ‘Stubb’ was recorded live with minimal overdubs and with a nice thick guitar tone, which is recognisable from the off. Any trepidation about this being another clichéd psych-rock release is thankfully largely unfounded. While Stubb are perfectly opaque when it comes to displaying their influences, they do so with effortless quality and with sparkling relevancy. ‘Stubb’ is eight tracks of mostly dirty, heavy rocking grooves, and the opening quartet are a real treat. The muddy tones of ‘Road’, complete with vocal mimicry of the post-chorus pre-solo lick make for a nice mid-to-fast flashy groover, before the deeper, bluesier grooves of ‘Scale the Mountain’ come into focus. The third track ‘Flame’ is epic, beginning in Kyuss-esque fashion, before morphing into a wonderful groove halfway through, and the uptempo boogie of ‘Soul Mover’ is bound to make you want to shake.
The album’s finale, ‘Galloping Horses’, is possibly my favourite track of the record, indeed what a way to finish. I had worried the album was beginning to ebb slightly; the folky acoustic track ‘Crosses to Bear’ is a change of tack, though it took a few listens to fully get into. The next couple of tracks suffer from that problem, for me personally at least, and it threatens to meander to the finish. But with ‘Galloping Horses’, just as it looks as they’ve dropped the proverbial baton, Stubb recover it to go out with a bang, with an incredible earth-shaking main riff which at one point speeds up and eventually slow downs. That riff is wholly infectious, and propels this seven minute monster into stratospheric rock bliss.
This is one of those albums best involved with an ice cold beer and maybe even some bell bottoms. Fans of the likes of Blue Cheer, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and modern acts like Graveyard are bound to find something to like here. It’s not all out trippy or anything like that; the psych influences are reined in enough just to make their presence known, leaving the real rock action to take centre stage. I’ve often made my plea for more real, more dangerous British rock bands to get more attention over the so-called pretty boys, and I wholeheartedly welcome Stubb to this renaissance, however much it owes to the past.
NB: Cheers to Stubb for supplying a promo