So, Cobra Family Picnic? I’d not heard of them before either but let’s have a look at their pedigree. They come from Tucson, Arizona, just like The Myrrors, and includes members of other Tucson bands such as The Desert Beats, The Night Collectors, and Wight Lhite. Originally formed by bassist Boyd Peterson and keyboardist Leslie Wood, The Myrrors link is further strengthened because this album is coming out on Myrror Nik Rayne’s label Sky Lantern, as well as Cardinal Fuzz in the UK. So far so good I’d say. Well actually it’s better because this is an absolute stonker of an album and, while I admit that I had few expectations when I started listening to it, I was totally blown away from the very first hearing.
The first thing that hits you with this album is that it does not plot an even course throughout. There is not a single atmosphere being created and sustained during the set. Instead this, for me, is an album of many different moods; nine tracks that are all in their way freaky and showcase different aspects of what many call ‘psych’. In fact I would go as far to say that this would be a great album to play to someone who wanted to know what ‘psych’ music was all about.
For me this album has pretty much everything you would want. In addition to a diverse series of tracks, there are also a number of intermezzos (‘IPT 001’, ‘IPT 011’, ‘IPT 111’) which are laid back and experimental. Like spacey dream sequences they disorientate you and take you out of your listening comfort zone. These tracks break up the set really well for me and take it to a different level of sonic intelligence.
Album opener ‘Draags’ lifts of with some NASA samples before dropping into a beautiful jazz rhythm. This is a really clean and melodious track that initially just flows out of the speakers in a very fluid manner, but gradually gets taken over by something heavier and darker while never losing the underpinning sonic structure.
‘Elysium’ hits the ground running with an immediate repeato bass riff that locks in at the start and just keeps going. Reminiscent of The Doors and early Wooden Shjips it develops through the vocals, which weirdly manage to sound melancholic and uplifting at the same time. This is one of those tracks that really gets into your head and I can really imagine freaking out to this in a live setting.
Next up is ‘Frost’, which I am really excited to be premiering here. Kicking off with the drums front and centre, this track opens out really nicely into something which is a bit more raw than the rest of the album. There are elements of garage here, but as the band lock into a motorik beat there’s plenty else happening too, especially when the vocal kicks in and adds real depth to the song…but that relentless drumming never abates…teriffic.
‘Gilgamesh’, the first track released from the album is, in many ways an amalgam of what has gone before. There’s some fantastic tuneage between the verses, and I really like the freaky guitar bridge on top of some ace motorik rhythms; oh and that organ just hits the spot perfectly…give it a listen below to see what I mean. Probably the key track of the album.
After the third intermezzo, ‘Moody Mountain’ has a real sense of vastness to it, of unending spaces. It is the track for me that that most has that ‘Myrrors’ sound to it. That sound of a band who come from a desert town. There is an eeriness to ‘Moody Mountain’ that really grabs you from the outset, a feeling of isolation and aloneness. The track is empty in a very real way…wherever you go you get nowhere.
This leads really well into the final, and longest, track on the album ‘Contact’. Perhaps the desolation of ‘Moody Mountain’ was necessary to underline the ‘Contact’ here. Here the band come back to the motorik beat of previous tracks and deliver an extended freak-out which you really don’t want to end. Again you can sense it getting in your head, and that’s a great feeling.
So, Cobra Family Picnic? A band new to me but one that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know over the course of this album. And what a set of songs it is. Sometimes you want to put on an album and be pulled in lots of different directions. This album does that, often within the same number. There are many styles being played here, but always in a way that works, there’s no jarring or dissonance as such. What there is is a progression of sorts through different emotions and settings which, when put all together, give you an immense feeling of satisfaction by the end of the it all. I’m sure, no I’m certain, that this is an album that’ll get pulled off the shelf with motorik regularity.
Magnetic Anomaly is a Cardinal Fuzz and Sky Lantern records co-production, released on both limited blue/lilac recycled color vinyl and standard black vinyl, as well as in limited single-runs of Sam Giles vinyl-replica CDs and hand-numbered cassette.