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The Record Machine
There’s a lot that can happen at a music festival. You’ll see bands you’ve seen before, bands you know will put on a great show. You’ll see bands whose vibe doesn’t match your own and ends in you pulling out some ninja skills and sneakily creeping away from their set. And if you’re lucky you might hear a mysterious band’s sound floating in the air from multiple bars away and, following it to it’s source, reveals a band that ends up being a highlight of the festival; a band that steals the proverbial show and leaves you wanting more. The Philistines were that band at this year’s Middle of the Map Music Festival. They owned the stage in a way that takes most bands decades to do, mostly thanks to frontwoman Kimmy Queen’s hypnotizing and slightly witchy dance moves accompanying the band’s immediately recognizable talent. After seeing the band perform their album live at MOTM, it left us wanting more. They were like this bizarre cigarette flavored ice cream that we just ate an entire carton of and needed another dose. Now, thanks to their debut album Backbone of Night which was put out by The Record Machine, we finally have more of the band’s seductively psychedelic sound.
The Philistines borrow elements of their sound from classic psych rock of the 60’s and 70’s but brings it into today by adding pop-influenced melodic vocals and catchy hooks. This is immediately present in the band’s first single off the album “A Twitch Of The Death Nerve,” which opens up with a commanding guitar that unblinkingly stares you in the face and straps a rocket on your back to carry you through the rest of the song. It’s one of those musical moments that makes you simultaneously awestruck that the band created something both utterly original and classic and seethingly jealous that they crafted something so simple and memorable. It’s sexy and it serves as the perfect “come here” finger wag to the rest of the song, which drips into the harmonized vocals of guitarist Cody Wyoming and Kimmie Queen. “A Twitch Of The Death Nerve” is boner-inducing rock to it’s very core.
In overly simplified terms, “A Twitch Of The Death Nerve” serves to represent two sides of the Philistines coin that make up their debut album. “A Twitch…” represents the heavy hitting, slap-you in-the-face guitar driven tracks that stand up and takes control (“1971” being another example of this). “Radiation Drive” serves as the chilled, more groove infused other side of the coin. “Radiation Drive” is one of those tracks that spins into the ether of forever and wraps you up in the flowing 8:12 timestamp of the song. Guitar riffs peek their heads up at varying moments and recede into the waves of fuzz and gently spaced out vocals. It’s as if you’re on a psychedelic journey through space and land on a planet where the Philistines rule with a trippy but relaxing hand. Personal tastes in mind, I’m usually not the biggest fan of a track structured like this but, keeping with the space travel idea, it’s a planet I wouldn’t mind making repeated visits to.
The opening track “Steep” showcases the band’s injection of pop understanding but fuses it with the sound they’ve studied since it’s inception and masterfully crafted into their own creation. It’s possibly the most luscious blend of their owned sound that appears on the album, featuring Queen’s siren song vocals that lead you into the treacherous and sinful waters of the track’s instrumentation, which immediately shows how cohesive the band members play together. Riotous guitar riffs blend with psychedelic strumming while grenade percussions serve to prod the soft but purposeful vocals winding their way through the immensely blended mixture.
Backbone of Night carries a healthy mix of these pseudo modern guitar-driven ballads and psychedelic laced groove tracks but the thing that is truly unbelievable about the album is that its the band’s first. No fucking way. After every listen I still find that hard to believe. The band member’s individual talent is immediately present (Kimmie Queen on seductive vocals, Cody Wyoming on shredding guitar and grizzled vocals, Michelle Bacon on “get out of my goddamned way” bass and vocals, Steve Gardels on volcano-erupting drums, Rod Peal on envious guitar, and Josh Mobley on cosmonaut keys) but the way they come together to form a melded and unified sound that bands take years if not decades to discover and perfect is simply unbelievable. The Philistines are a band that commands you to listen. I just hope they continue to make music for as long as humanly possible because there needs to be a lot more where this came from.
This review was written by Nick but it also has editorial support from his cat Yolandi, who sat on his keyboard and vigorously stared at the magic of the cursor gliding across the laptop screen.