By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
By Derek Askey
Crawling from the aural and psychic wreckage of Brian Jonestown Massacre a couple of years ago, guitarist Bobby Hecksher (who's also worked with Beck) blinked his eyes a few times, massaged his bruised limbs, and promptly got back on the horse. This time, though, one of his own device, christened the Warlocks and aiming to indulge and inflict a singular brand of aural-psychic wreckage via a white-light/white-heat brand of tribal psychedelia every bit as punishing as that purveyed by Hecksher's old employer. And, it must be said, not altogether disregarding of the sonic legacy implied by the chosen group moniker; both the Grateful Dead and the Velvet Underground dallied with the name "Warlocks" very early on.
A six-song mini-album clocking in at 40 minutes, The Warlocks hails from the same inspirational lava pool that gave the world Spacemen 3, Jesus and Mary Chain, Monster Magnet and, yes, BJM. The band sculpts a mighty wall of sound, whether single-mindedly thrumming through a meaty, distorted slab of troglodyte crud ("Caveman Rock"), allowing rich textural nuances to seep through the pores of the monolith (strummy acoustics and trippy effects infest "Cocaine Blues") or lighting the rocket's fuse in preparation for an interstellar passage ("Jam of the Zombies," a live recording, recalls the halcyon journeys of yore by the 13th Floor Elevators).
Significantly, too, the record's lone overt homage is at once loving and obsessive: "Song for Nico" oozes with a darkly ominous, Velvets "Heroin"-like vibe even as its fuzztone drone casts a deceptively tingly melodic glow. The Warlocks, it would seem, are both innovators and, true to their name, master conjurers. Dark magick is afoot.
As a footnote to all the foregoing: Nobody who was ever associated with BJM does things half-assed, and that goes double for folks who also wind up in the Bomp Records orbit, long a haven for musical misfits and unreconstructed garage punks. To that end, a press release dated October 20, 2000, circulated bearing the following info: "Greg Shaw [founder/owner of Bomp] and Bobby Hecksher inked a two-CD recording contract today. Well, Shaw's signature was in ink, but for Bobby, the impulse to sign in blood was too strong to resist. According to the contract's fine print, there is also an option on Warlocks' bassist Jen Chiba's soul, and those of her unborn babies, but it may not be exercised unless the band fails to sell at least 500 records." Gentle consumers, your choice is clear -- protect the womblife from Bomp-style damnation, and buy this album.