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 Post subject: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:23 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:59 pm
Posts: 318
VISTA CHINO
Peace
Napalm Records
Sept. 3rd, 2013

(PREFACE)
I'm rather surprised given the build-up towards this record with these particular musicians, that there wouldn't have been some manner of album review, formal and detailed or informal and brief, in this particular forum (not including H.P. Taskmaster’s brilliant review). Coupled with the album leaking almost a month ago and some of us downloading it because we couldn't wait a second longer (myself included, but having pre-sale-purchased the CD, a Red vinyl, and tickets to see them twice this month, I didn't feel quite as naughty-naughty), it's a bit more odd. So besides the two bonus tracks 'Carnation' and 'Sunlight At Midnight', I've gotten to sit with Peace about a month now. It's given me pause to write about it, more than most (or virtually any) other albums that come to me. Private 'journaling' really, not since StonerRock.com have I contributed much in the way of album reviews anywhere. I loved that site/ community and may have lost my taste for this stuff when we lost SR.com to god-knows-who that fucked with it and ruined shit for everyone. But the years, the weight of expectation, then trying to shed that weight (which is really a burden) in order to open my mind and listen to something for what it is, culminates in a lot of thoughts, feelings and ideas. So you have your briefest review below, and below that the “brain dump” for those who give a shit what one man thinks…

(THE QUICK LONG AND SHORT OF IT)
If you go into this album expecting to hear Kyuss, hoping to hear Kyuss, hoping to hear as close an imitation of Kyuss minus Josh, then you will be doing yourself a disservice and you won’t really ‘hear’ Peace. If you are a fan of Brant Bjork’s long solo career, this debut by Vista Chino has much, much more in common with that; more in common to the vibe, feel, style and execution of a fat, heavy Brant Bjork solo album with John Garcia singing and Nick Oliveri on bass. Including cooler desert breeze moments and jazzier flares, with Brant’s always in-the-pocket and oozing with swing drumming. John’s age defying voice has never sounded stronger (it’s sounded ‘as good’ such as Unida’s unreleased album, but my point is he’s still going real strong).

(FOR THOSE WITH TOO MUCH TIME)
It’s been 18 years since Josh Homme last played in Kyuss. And if his first Queens of The Stone Age full-length outing reflected still-vivid reminders of the band from whence he came three years before, albeit in a slightly more poppy and stripped-down manner, then Josh’s sixth and most recent Queens of The Stone Age outing, this year’s …Like Clockwork, reflects virtually none. Eighteen years later, albeit a long time, I cannot hear much of a trace of the ‘Circus Leaves Town Josh’ vs. the ‘...Like Clockwork Josh.’ He is gone (although ‘I Appear Missing’ is one of the stronger songs he’s written). Of course, it has been almost 20 years and people can and do change, for our purposes, guitarists- how they write songs, record them, their tones, etc.

For some fans of the Queens, safe to say the johnny-come-lately’s quotient, that’s probably just hunky-dory. They have no frame of reference (speaking generally), of pre-Queens when a little band called Kyuss was carving shit out, for themselves, and for many bands who followed in their wake.

For other fans of the Queens, safe to say those who have been listening to Kyuss since the early 90’s and likely followed many, most, or all of the post-Kyuss projects which include the Queens (Slo Burn, Unida, Brant Bjork & The Bros, Hermano, Mondo Generator, Desert Sessions, et al.), that’s probably not so good. Unless you do enjoy all Homme’s work, it’s disheartening that with time his songwriting is now pretty far removed from what originally made us love his playing, his tones, heft, fuzz, psychedelic-atonal-classic-denser-than-tungsten guitar tonnage (and coupled working with and off-of Scott Reeder? Fuckin forget about it… It’s on a pedestal with Iommi/ Butler. To me at least).

I myself am going through a like/ dislike relationship with …Like Clockwork. Trying to take it for what it is vs. what it’s not (which, in the interest of health, is what I’m attempting with most things). But the feelings aren’t as strong as a ‘love/ hate’ relationship. It merely hovers around ‘like/ dislike’. My negative feelings toward Era Vulgaris were very strong. The new one’s a little better, but my real love of the Queens centers around the 1998 to 2003 period. Back then I couldn’t get enough of them, and 2003 was the last time I saw them live as well. Like any of my great loves, I acquired as many live shows as I could. But the 3 albums over the last ten years, too much of feeling ‘vaguely annoyed’ colors the experience listening to them. The fanboy is gone.

It could be said that most all the post-Kyuss bands both Brant and John were involved in maintained threads of the desert rock vibe, whether overt and strong, or subtle and suggestive. Those two guys never forgot their roots or tried to reinvent themselves as something else entirely, despite the almost two decades since Kyuss. And though the journey, namely in the last 18 months, has been challenging to say the least (thanks to the nasty lawsuit), we come back around again to Vista Chino. In terms of personnel involved, it’s the closest to Kyuss we as fans have ever come. And whatever the tremendous weight of that expectation we put upon Vista Chino, and to whatever degree the band put upon themselves, an album of new material by three of the founding Kyuss members is now here… We can either wrestle with what got them here, or we can cast all that aside (best we can) and attempt to listen to their new album Peace on its own, allow it to be what it is (vs. what it’s not) and that’s probably the best or most positive vantage point you can approach from when listening without distraction to this album…

…If you can do that, ye shall be rewarded. I don’t believe I ever ‘got’ an album on my first listen, and this one was no different. My first listen to Peace left me a little flat even. But no sooner than the second spin-through did its secrets begin unfurling. Some of it feels a bit like Kyuss, more of it feels like a real heavy Brant Bjork solo album with John’s unmistakable vocals over the top (which now feel indistinguishable from ‘desert rock’). The jerky-rhythmic grooves are chunky and swinging. Each successive listen reveals that somehow they still have managed to begin carving their own identity. And the album gets better and better as it progresses. A pleasant surprise is Brant singing lead vocals on the first half of ‘Planets 1&2’. John takes over in the second half, along with a complete change of vibe in the song. The two guys never ‘harmonize’ or sing together, but ‘Dark and Lovely’ shows them doing a call-and-response style vocals. It’s very cool, and one of the best songs on the record. More and more moments show themselves. For me, it’s not possible to entirely separate …Like Clockwork and Peace as both albums came out fairly close to one another, and both were being developed right during the lawsuit of the two ‘camps’ against one another. One album is most decidedly ‘desert rock’. The other is a more polished, slick, moody pop record that has no inklings of the desert. Even if, in an alternate reality, the band did get Josh to play guitar with them, the songwriter Josh is now doesn’t really have a place anymore. Not with them. It wouldn’t, couldn’t mesh. And I wouldn’t want it to. Yes I would have loved Scott Reeder playing bass with them, he’s always been one of my favorite bass players. But that’s virtually an identical infeasibility. In summary, I really dig the Vista Chino album. Largely, I think, because I also dig the work this album has much more in common with than Kyuss, and that’s Brant’s solo records. And I look forward to seeing them in September over a couple of nights.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:24 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:59 pm
Posts: 318
Seriously though, I hear John doing stuff at 43 he couldn't do at 23. His vocals in 'Adara' he reaches almost impossibly high notes and nails them. Not only that but he duplicated it live at the gig I saw this week... But this here is an addendum to the above review. I realize this statement is only half-true:

"In terms of personnel involved, it’s the closest to Kyuss we as fans have ever come."

I recognize that the self-titled 1998 QotSA album also featured three Kyuss members as well. Though that album didn't feature Nick on the studio recording, only touring the album live...


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 Post subject: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 2:50 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:06 pm
Posts: 2647
Location: new york
His vocals on sweet remain are the best I've ever heard from him. My only problem with the album is that it seems scattered and too long. The track listings should have been sweet remain, planets 1 and 2, dargona, acidize, dark and lovely and the gambling moose.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:12 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:59 pm
Posts: 318
'Acidize... The Gambling Moose' is actually just one song. Yeah I think 'Good Morning Wasteland' and 'Mas Vino' could have been part of other tracks, like a longer intro or outro, sure. But the 2 bonus cuts aren't toss-aways. Both 'Carnation' and 'Sunlight At Midnight' I like. 'Barcelonian' should part of your list too (or I'd keep it in mine at least). Some folks are criticizing 'Planets 1&2' as being too close to 'Green Machine', and though the phrasing in the 1st part is, I think it's just different enough where it's its own thing. And the vibe of 'Green Machine' is 'up' whereas 'Planets 1&2' is a bit darker & heavier. A standout track...


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 Post subject: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:53 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:06 pm
Posts: 2647
Location: new york
Scrit wrote:
'Acidize... The Gambling Moose' is actually just one song. Yeah I think 'Good Morning Wasteland' and 'Mas Vino' could have been part of other tracks, like a longer intro or outro, sure. But the 2 bonus cuts aren't toss-aways. Both 'Carnation' and 'Sunlight At Midnight' I like. 'Barcelonian' should part of your list too (or I'd keep it in mine at least). Some folks are criticizing 'Planets 1&2' as being too close to 'Green Machine', and though the phrasing in the 1st part is, I think it's just different enough where it's its own thing. And the vibe of 'Green Machine' is 'up' whereas 'Planets 1&2' is a bit darker & heavier. A standout track...

I know it's one song but I think that it should be 2. I like about everything about planets 1&2. I like that its a greenmachine ripoff. I like how it seems to be a new version. Maybe I'm just over analyzing things but i like how brant sings that the war is finally over. Is it the war that inside his head that had to set itself free?


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:59 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:59 pm
Posts: 318
I know it's one song but I think that it should be 2.

Sorry I misunderstood you... 'Planets 1&2' is all sorts of cool, right with you there. One thing I'm finding a bit... 'odd' I guess we'd say, is that John is censoring himself live now. Anyone else catch Vista Chino lately? He's dropping any and all profanities from the Kyuss songs they play. I wonder why that's necessary. Even during 'Gardenia' on the line, "Six hundred sixty-six miles per hour," he goes so far as to dropping the third '6'. Would anyone really ever take the "666" out of that song, that band, and misinterpret it as genuinely satanic?


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:49 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:48 pm
Posts: 275
I've given it a few spins and I can't help but think it sounds more like a Beaver or Lowrider album fronted by Garcia. That's not necessarily a bad thing ("Mobile" and "Ode to Io" are quality albums), but those bands were chasing the Kyuss vibe as opposed to leading the way.

I agree that Garcia sounds in fine form. The rest of the band, not so much. Part of me thinks that losing J-Ho wasn't the biggest loss for nu-Kyuss, but perhaps not having Chris Goss around was equally if not more crucial to the vibe not being quite right.

There are a few songs I dig on here, "Dargona Dragona", "Barcelonian" and "As You Wish" are solid, but the rest leaves me wanting to listen to Kyuss proper.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:59 pm
Posts: 24
I like the album. I don't see the point in comparing it to Kyuss.

To me it is a solid heavy rock album with John Garcia sounding better than he ever has. It does have a cut and paste vibe to it (different singers and bassists from track to track), but that is probably an accurate representation of the making of the album. I think that it would have been better if the guitarist had been a bit more willing to show off his own identity on the album, as some of the Homme-isms seem a bit forced. Those minor criticisms aside I really enjoyed it.

Not a classic but not half bad either.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:20 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:48 pm
Posts: 275
I don't see the point in not comparing it to Kyuss. Shit, they would be calling themselves Kyuss or at least Kyuss Lives! were it not for a lawsuit. And when you have three of the four members of said band putting out new material, what other comparison is there to make?

If people want to judge it solely as a separate, new entity, that's their right, but it doesn't make sense to me.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:59 pm
Posts: 24
Yeah that lawsuit left a bad taste in the mouth. I suppose my 'I don't see the point in comparing it to Kyuss' comment was more because it was never going to be as good as Kyuss, so I might as well enjoy a half-decent album for what it is, rather than what it is not. Kyuss finished a long time ago, and the Kyuss Lives was essentially a bit of attempt to make some money. Vista Chino to me lie somewhere in-between the Alice in Chains reunion and later day incarnations of Thin Lizzy and Queen.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:44 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:36 am
Posts: 10
I've just found this forum (thanks to Crimson King and our journey to Soundgarden in Dublin).

Now I need to find this album. Huge fan of all things Garcia and this is the next chapter. Can't do QOTSA after Songs For The Deaf myself.

Great opening review and at last it looks like I've found a StonerRock.com replacement.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:47 pm
Posts: 1833
Location: Concordia
Image
Image
Solid and creatively unpredictable. How many bands really do that anymore?
Thumbs up! Will spin often.

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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:00 am 
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Libertycaps... I am drooling at your hi-fi system.


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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:47 pm
Posts: 1833
Location: Concordia
Hey. Thanks, man. You can have one too. If you take your time, it's not that expensive really. It's about 7 years of audio geek for me now. Well worth it, of course. If you sincerely love music, you'll eventually want to love your stereo(s) too.

Now back to the awesome that is the new VISTA CHINO!!

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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:21 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:37 am
Posts: 716
Location: A grave in Ireland
This is okay, but I'm having a hard time getting into it, and I think I always will. I've said from the first track that I heard that Garcia has never sounded better. That's the only really positive thing I can say about this. Whoever said that they're missing Goss more than Homme nailed it, because this albums sounds like crap. The production is just awful and really ruins it for me. It's not that original sounding, as expected, and just really not that inspired sounding either. The guitar playing is really uneventful, and the riffs don't grab me. Going in the sell/delete pile, someone else will enjoy it more than I will...

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 Post subject: Re: VISTA CHINO - Peace
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:10 pm 
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Location: Cali
I've been listening to this a bit and it's cool...



Planets 1 & 2




+1

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