Rev Chad Wells is always full of surprises. Yet, his latest musical foray, Cricketbows, stunned those familiar with the rock ’n’ roll oeuvre of this tattoo-slinging former frontman for B-movie punks The Jackalopes.
Where the ’Lopes were irreverent and hard-edged, created under the influence of The Misfits and cheap beer, Cricketbows is more experimental and, dare I say, a bit hippified. Wells has assumed the mantle of musical merry prankster, gleefully drawing mood-altering inspiration from psychedelic bands, krautrock groups, art-damaged folkies and other progressive-minded acts.
The 2010 Cricketbows release, “hOMe,” was a solo, home-recorded affair. It came front-loaded with stream-of-consciousness lyrics and mostly-improvised music that fell somewhere between folky Roky Erickson/Syd Barrett-style acid-casualty songs and extended, Krautrock-esque epics. It was a far cry from the martians, monsters, zombies and cool chicks that populate The Jackalopes catalog. In fact, punk rock was about the only genre not in the sonic stew.
Wells follows a similar far-out template on “Mycocosmic Transmission,” the latest Cricketbows album. “There’s quite a bit of lyrical improvisation on this one but a few songs were actually written down first and polished a bit,” he said. “I try to retain the integrity of the improvisational thing by capturing riffs and lines as soon as they’re created so they don’t have time to became too precise or slick or overly thought out.”
Where “hOMe” found Wells working out material on his own, he decided to get help from several guest players on “Mycocosmic Transmission.” Music legend Roger Joseph Manning Jr., known for his work with Jellyfish, Imperial Drag, Beck and others, lends his considerable keyboard talents to the songs “Gracious Peasant,” “Andromeda Suede” and “Edison’s Airship.” Wells’ daughter, Presley, lends some backing noises and vocalizations to the track “Sonus:1.” The song “Clear” features blasts of weird electronic mischief courtesy of performance artist/musician/pro-wrestler Jacurutu 23 and guitar from Wells’ brother JayJay.
The end result of these extemporaneous home recordings and easy-going collaborations is “Mycocosmic Transmission.” The album makes for an intoxicating playlist of retro-tastic musical nuggets that will demand heavy rotation status on whatever sound delivery system you use.
October 14, 2011