Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Psyatics - Devil you Know

(I wrote up a "press release" for the new Psyatics LP, which is why I refer to myself in the third person here. I know it's weird to review a record that I'm on, but I think it's a good one and I hope that people give it a listen!)

The Psyatics were ready for a change. After four albums and nearly eight years of sonically sendin’ up dive bars from Vegas to Tokyo as a trio, singer/bassist Rob Bell and guitarist Jack Ball, along with more recent recruit, drummer Mark Bartschi (who replaced original stick man Jimmy Krah a couple of years back) wanted to add to their sound. Saxophone was discussed but no one materialized and so, after some drunken, late night conversations, Rob asked Rich Coffee (of Las Vegas’ The Swamp Gospel) if he would be interested in joining the fray. A fan who had ranted’n’raved about the group for years on his blog, Rich debated whether or not he would be a proper fit for the combo – his previous efforts were a lot more “rock’n’roll”, in general - but eventually decided to take the plunge.

 So now, with veteran rock’n’rollers Mark’n’Rich laying down a more solid groundwork for Rob’n’Jack’s more extreme excursions, the Psyatics retain the Psyatics’ psychosis but remain somewhat more heavily earthbound. After nearly a year of practicin’n’giggin’, the now-quartet entered the recording studio for the band’s fifth album, Devil You Know. While the sonic soundscapes continue – with Coffee adding his version of Crampsian noise and classic rock wahs to the mix – the group’s originals rock with swingin’ grooves, punky energy and added melodies. Rob’s devilish lyrics intertwine with his snakey, rovin’ bass lines, while Mark drives the tunes with his SoCal surf/rock snap’n’bash and Jack’s jazzy/noisy guitar layers over the top of it all, along with Coffee’s six string ranglings.

 With high energy punk (“Fill In the Blank”) sittin’ side by side with mid-tempo rock’n’rollers (“Damn Your Eyes”, “A Crown’s No Cure For a Headache”, “Good Gut Feeling”), mesmerizing grooves (“Hypnagogic Jerk”), a touch of updated Americana (“Here to Suffer”, a revision of a tune from Rob’s previous combo, the Yeller Bellies), a twisted Tex-Mex tale (“Banditos”), some soulful sax from friend Gene Howley adding to the political commentary “Stockholm Syndrome” (and he makes a couple of other appearances throughout), hypnotic rhythms (“Sin Eater”), a demented surf number (“Prints of Darkness”), and even a couple of covers, the Scientists’ “When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow” and an unrecognizable remake of Depeche Mode’s “Flies on the Windshield”, the proceedings close with the atmospheric, feedback-laden title cut.

 Any fan will absolutely recognize the Psyatics’ sound, but there is a growth in songwriting and playing here while the twin guitar attack naturally adds new stratum to their bedrock. Look for Devil You Know directly from the band or any of the usual options and see the Psyatics live on Friday March 27, 2020 at the Double Down Saloon, Las Vegas for their CD release party/show with a fantastic line up with the Pine Hill Haints, Fuzz Solow and the Jagoffs!