Mondo Drag
Crank this to 9 of 11
|    Editor's Pick
Psychedelic rock
Sounds Like:
Deep Purple, Kadavar, Uriah Heep
What do you get when you cross late sixties sounding psychedelic rock with modern day psych rock? The answer is Mondo Drag. This band from Oakland, California’s has released a heavy, bluesy psychedelic rock album that is sure to make waves here in 2015. They seem to carry a sound that is reminiscent to an early Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, yet keep things fresh with modern day heaviness.

Band Members:
John Gamino (Keyboards & Vocals)
Nolan Girard (Guitar & Synthesizer)
Jake Sheley (Guitar)
Ventura Garcia (Drums)
Andrew O'Neil (Bass).

This album, released through Kozmik Artifactz contains seven highly entertaining tracks. The production has a lo-fi analogue sound that brings out a raw, live feel and very much captures a seventies psych album aura. The vocals of John Gamino are perfectly suited for this kind of music, he ensues a slightly trippy, spacecd bluesy vibe that sticks with you. Think of a more rhythmic version of Deep Purples’ original singer Rod Evans. The music is also very plentiful with a broad range of compositions, from heavy blues to soft, mesmerizing instrumentals – there is something here for everyone to gravitate towards.

Track Listing:
1. Zephyr 2:34
2. Crystal Visions Open Eyes 4:36
3. The Dawn 3:04
4. Plumajilla 6:40
5. Shifting Sands 5:24
6. Pillars Of The Sky 6:45
7. Snakeskin 6:10

Opening the album is “Zephyr” and this just sets the tone right away. It will transport you back to 1968; this song feels like it could fit right into the classic Deep Purple album The Book of Taliesyn. It’s a short fluent song that hits on all notes and is very easy to get sucked into. The synths, percussion, guitars and vocals just blend together so effortlessly, we were immediately fired up for what the rest of the album has to offer. Track two, “Crystal Visions Open Eyes” continues to impress, the song feeds off track one and keeps the psychedelic trip moving along. Moving onto “The Dawn” which is one of the standout tracks, is tremendously infectious, the rhythm will hook you from the start. We absolutely love the slight transition at the 1:16 in, it just gets even better. It’s so friendly and uplifting, if you are into the band Graveyard, then you’ll be instantly drawn to this one.

Three tracks in and we are very impressed, can they keep it up? Well track four “Plumajilla” is another standout cut and is very vibrant as it’s one of the more diverse ones. They hit on all cylinders here and the use of the synths is spot on. The way the synths are integrated and become a very important role in this song and others is tremendous. The flute also shows up from time to time on here and is quite a fine addition. The intense jam session that builds will later give way to mellow, trippy soundscapes at the 2:55 mark. The acoustics are a refreshing touch here as the soft sounds will build up gadually to a climactic ending… well done. “Shifting Sands” is next up and this one has sort of a Kraurock/Prog rock style to it and the echoed vocals help give off a space rock vibe as well. It’s a bit diverse compared to the other tracks; we foresee fans of Hawkwind or Farflung drawn to this track like bees to honey.

The last two songs continue to bring us the type of psychedelic music that we have come to love from the band. The instrumental “Pillars to the Sky” is soothing and a bit reflective, somewhat resembling Pink Floyd. The piano is a classy addition; we feel it’s an underused instrument in rock today. Little by little we are staring to hear more bands begin to add the piano, especially in the Post-rock genre. It can be powerful and soft, adding vibrancy to songs. The final track “Snakeskin” is tremendous. The building rhythm in the beginning leads us on some exploration. We are just waiting for the song to just kick in at any moment. At 2:57, the drums and keys pick up its pace and we are on our way. The vocals become more prominent and the fluent rhythm takes us to another level and the powerful ending comes to a sudden drop off to end.

Man, what a way to kick off 2015, it should be a great year for obscure rock music. We can see this album being in contention for a spot in our top 11 albums of 2015. - 1/26/2015

Standout Tracks: Snakeskin, The Dawn, Plumajilla
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