6 Apr 2013
The Chaw Review
Reviewed by Jason Simpson
Listening to the rippling flamenco guitar of ‘Campaigning Man’, which opens the debut album from The Chaw, it is clear this is not just another disposable album from a flash-in-the-pan band.
It catches your ear, sinks into your nervous system, impresses with its fluid virtuosity; you may feel as if you are listening to Al Di Meola, somewhere in the universe. The reverie is quickly disrupted with the roiling psychotic breakdown of ‘Everything Wrong’, which shows another face of The Chaw, a mixture of Lux Interior’s rock ‘n roll worship with classic minimalist psychedelia with modern filigree of atmosphere and noise.
This unlikely amalgam of styles, seamlessly segued like a Max Ernst collage, draws the listener in, informs you that this is music worthy of attention, introduction into your record collection. The Chaw ooze chops and class; they have impeccable roots, producing sublime and psychotropic fruits. As soon as you let this music in, start to pay attention, the details begin to emerge, becoming clearer with each successive listen.
The sleazy, grinding B3 organ is the first detail that separates this band from faceless hordes of weak-kneed imitators; it sounds like Terry Riley performing in a haunted chapel. The meaty hooks and tight, sharp breakdowns are the next thing that differentiate The Chaw from the chaff; these songs are well written and rehearsed. The Chaw are a brilliant barbed machine, pummeling out benzedrine epiphanies. Fans of Billy Childish or Thee Headcoatees (if there are any of those left) speed-riddled erotica will rejoice! There’s a new contender for the throne.
Once you’re sold, the innovations become obvious. The Chaw are stringing together 5 decades of psych history into a distinctive and inividual whole. You’ve got reverbed-soaked western guitars that will have you astrally traveling across cracked, barren landscapes. You’ve got Bonham breakdowns that will make you headbang. You’ve got sick syrupy basslines, holding it all together, effortlessly twining with the drums. The
Chaw's rhythm section are total badasses, allowing for moments of guitar revelation. This is all held together by the distinctive, honeyed baritone vocals, a mixture of Jim Morrison, Nick Cave, the aforementioned Mr. Interior. You’ve heard stuff like this before, but never strung together in this way, and you don’t have to rediscover the Periodic Table to make a delicious cocktail.
There’s so much music out there, time and attention are the entire battle. You have to go along with a band, you have to choose and believe, otherwise ignore and forget. Ignoring and forgetting The Chaw would be a mistake. For those that still value songwriting and performance, this band will leave you seeing stars. They will have you driving through canyonlands, with shadows racing across the plains. Here in the northern hemisphere, Spring is breaking; a perfect time for driving with the windows time. A perfect time to discover The Chaw’s self-titled debut.
‘The Road’ or ‘Mount Diablo’ are good places to begin, if you want to bang your head, drive fast or make love. ‘Campaigning Man’ and ‘I With You’ will show the more sensitive side of the band, (every rock ‘n roll band needs a ballad or two), and are personal favorites. The variety of tempos and moods has something for every fan of classic psych or garage rock, and I highly advise you give a listen.
RIYL: Led Zeppelin, LaMonte Young, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized,
The Doors, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, driving, looking at stars