Psychedelic rock and revolt? Not a natural pair.
That’s what I thought first when I read that Yawning Man have a new album titled The Revolt Against Tired Noises.
Yawning Man are a long-standing band from La Quinta, California. They have been around since 1986 and are often listed as one of the first Desert rock outfits, influencing bands like Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. Major success has eluded them, but they have come a long way since their beginnings, experimenting with genres and collaborators. The Revolt Against Tired Noises is their sixth LP and obviously an attempt to move further forward.
Have they succeeded in their attempt? Well, the music still sounds very drugged, as it always did. But that’s what you’d expect of psychedelic rock. Apart from that, there is a combination of images and concepts that don’t really combine beginning with the band name and the album title (yawning man revolting against tired noises?) and continuing into the track list. There you find titles like Violent Lights, Skyline Pressure, Ghost Beach and Misfortune Cookies. They are not outright contradictory, but definitely a bit off and twisted. Is this trying to tell you that something is not quite right, or is it just something someone would come up with while under the influence? Who knows. In any case, this unspecified “fedupness” with things does not transcend into the music. I don’t hear much revolt in the sound, neither frustration nor anger, which would be emotions leading to revolt. There is drama, yes, but most of the time the music flows nicely along. Deeper, disruptive tones, while present, do not disturb the harmony for long.
The Revolt Against Tired Noises primarily features a mixture of psychedelic rock, seventies rock and a bit of stoner rock – an all too popular combination these days. Six of the eight tracks are instrumentals, two feature vocals. The vocals, when present, do not stick out and do not provide much character, because they are mixed into the music. And trippy instrumentals are what Yawing Man are known for and good at.
My favourite track on the album is Skyline Pressure. I like the introductory folky tune and the way it is taken apart and put together again in the course of the track. Violent Lights is also worth pointing out, because it has a more experimental character then the rest of the material. Ghost Beach, the final track, is probably the most dramatic. Drama is provided by the deep undercurrent of the bass, but also by the guitar through changes from dreamy to more experimental sounds.
Among the two tracks with vocals there is one you might already know. Catamaran is and old Yawning Man song that has previously been covered by Kyuss (And The Circus Leaves Town, 1995). It is the one track on the album where you can hear the band’s stoner roots. It is also the only track where you can actually make out a bit of irritation, when the vocalist sings “Please, let go my sleeve”.
Since it does not aggressively demand attention, and this is an indicator of maturity, you can listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises in two ways: passively, as background music, or actively, listening for subtle changes in the sound, hearing stories emerge. Either way is good. This is beautiful, harmonious psychedelic rock, but not really a musical leap forward.