Harsh Toke
Light Up And Live
(2013)
Crank this to 7.8 of 11
Genre:
Progressive rock
Sounds Like:
The Mystic Krewe of Clearlight, Earthless, Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound
Monday, November 17, 2014
Jam bands and stoner rock have been crossing paths for many years now. One of the most influential fusion bands that bridged the gap for us started back in 1996 with the great Mystick Krewe of Clearlight. They infused dark undertones with hippie laced jams. Its good to see that the genre still holds strong some eighteen years later and new bands are periodically  popping up these days. In fact the beautiful #1 climate city of San Diego has spawned jam fiends, Harsh Toke. There is no question that a toke or two or three will help the listener out on their debut full length album Light Up & Live.

Just four tracks totaling approximately 38 minutes:

Rest In Prince - 4:11
Weight of the Sun - 14:31
Light Up and Live - 9:48
Plug in to the Moon - 10:09

The  opening track "Rest In Prince" sets the classic rock foundation getting the clearer vocals out of the way before the jamming onslaught begins.  A pallet cleanser or appetizer of sorts for what lies ahead.

"Weight Of The Sun" takes the prize in the song length department. The song is basically a two in one hitting a lull and then charging back with six minutes of jam. The title track commences with a rich bass lines and slowly adding layers of echo effect and unique guitar rhythms. If you pay very close attention, the vocals subtly reappear midstream before reverting back to the jams. On the last track "Plug Into The Moon" Harsh Toke throw everything at you including the kitchen sink. This track definitely has the most energy and inspiration ending in quite the culmination of jams.

Light Up & Live
is better appreciated after several listens and some cheeba dust. The richness and multiple layers included throughout the album are impressive. Our one main gripe with the album is there are periods where the jams extend at one level of loudness and tone. They tend not to bring things down enough so the listener can regroup. We found ourselves a bit exhausted. Perhaps with time and maturity the band will learn the art of dropping things down more into a soft baseline or solo piercing guitar. Stop the percussion for a few minutes then bring it back. Offer the listener more variety and contrast.

We are glad to have stumbled upon Harsh Toke and look forward to their future endeavors. - 11/17/2014

Standout Tracks:
Weight Of The Sun, Plug Into The Moon
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