Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gerry Alvarez (Gruesomes) Odyssey: Candy Prankster is Colorful Fuzz!

The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey

Candy Prankster
Ricochet Records and USA through Get Hip Distribution

Who knew that a punk fuzz purist would go completely psychedelic? Founding member/guitarist/singer for Canadian garage kings The Gruesomes created Gerry Alvarez Odyssey and made Candy Prankster in between time with them, and it's quite a contrast. The album has hints of psychedelic pop intertwined with dense, upbeat melodies. The title track has a heavy fuzz riff as an intro, but it's psych rock done with mostly chords. It's really interesting that there's little "psychedelic" effects, and no 12 string guitars. Just a basic song with a good fuzz riff and some great rhythm guitar that's both melodic and fuzzy. In compliment to the guitars that punch in like alternating bursts of colors, one's only left to consider the meaning of "Ratty desert is so dry, hushback clouds are in the sky, candy prankster takes you high". It's not really a trip, but an alternate reality without the hassle of the traveling. "The Prophet" is a little less of a freakout, but it has some nice licks that seem to be an inspiration from George Harrison's "Something". It's easy to say a song sounds like the Beatles, but George was the better guitarist of them, so it's more than complimentary. Can psychedelic rock be a bad trip? Not really. If it were, it would be called crap and not psychedelic rock. "It's Only Just A Dream" breaks the mold because it gives a vivid description of what sounds like a bad trip with "The sky is melting, slowly, it catches in the rainfall, a crowd is standing lonely, the hang their heads inside behind the wall", but the music has plenty of rough fuzz that alternates into acoustic refrains during the chorus, which also has great vocal harmonies. This one's pretty special, but hints start to come in of playing tapes backwards that are obviously Revolver inspired. Then again, we know how this works. Great rock 'n' roll steals from the past, but it's done right when it's stolen from the best. Additionally, it's been an awful long time since someone had the ambition to do that. Great song.

"Fly By Night" takes a little of a straightforward approach, but it relies on the overall theme of Candy Prankster of melodic fuzz songs that are both hard with a pop edge. That's a lot to say. I'm not sure anyone else created something out of those elements. Other standouts are "Urban Shaman", which is lush, but has a slight air of droning much like later works from The Church. "Heaven" is amazing! One is going to feel the obvious inspiration from "Tomorrow Never Knows", but Gerry deeper voice sounds better and has an air of authority. Not only that, but the solo guitar is great and the rhythm guitar feels like a droning, Tibetan chant, which John Lennon originally intented on "Tomorrow Never Knows", but "Heaven" is more convincing in using the effect that's it's hypnotic and mesmerizing, although it might carry a stronger attraction than it's inspiration since the perspective is Western instead of Eastern. Gerry Alvarez also shows a talent for deeper, electric folk music on "Universal Man", which relies on a more country like guitar at times that eventually intertwine with full powerchords to become a loud but still slow rock song. "In The Garden" is obviously similar to "I Am The Walrus" but with stronger vocal harmonies and a background that's psychedelic and instrumental, but the strings aren't as prominent.

Candy Prankster makes no bones about it's inspiration in John Lennon and his early psychedelic period, but the album somehow remains nearly "all about the fuzz" and therefore, has a heavy guitar chord base that is almost always loud and takes the lead, as in reminding one that it's still a culmination of '60s garage influences set to possibly more thoughtful songwriting, although the sky takes a common theme not only on "Is It Just A Dream" and "Heaven", but also "Open Up Your Mind" in its spaceship effects that are definitely somewhere off the ground, while "Time In Motion" causes the thought of anticipating the opening lyric "When the rain comes", but it suddenly feels more abrasive and eventually only shares the affinity to "Rain" with its prominent bass melody. It's also less pop friendly than "Rain" in that it has just a hint of being a little bit disturbing. "The Trail" is a perfect ending in it's gentler tempo that almost sings the listener "goodnight" by the image of riding off into the sunset that has a greater expanse as "a deep, dark ocean." Gerry Alvarez Odyssey take a big leap on Candy Prankster by putting the fuzz into deep psychedlic rock. In truth, "the fuzz" has always been a crucial ingredient to psychedelic rock more than garage rock. In conclusion, they put the fuzz BACK into it! The result is a creative, rock 'n' roll landscape deep in psychedelia but minus the 12 string Rick-o-sound. It's simultaneously basic and heavy pure fuzz all the way. After all, one can't take The Gruesomes out of a Gruesome, but The Gruesomes have a few tricks up their sleeves and Gerry Alvarez Odyssey will get you fuzzed up with Candy Prankster! Like anything great and fuzzy, turn it up to get the full effect.

Candy Prankster

Candy Prankster is available directly from Ricochet Records in Canada and USA through Get Hip Distribution. There's a free download of the companion pressbook The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey: Traveller's Vision, that has photos, articles, and so much more. Even better is the book Candy Prankster: A collection of short stories, drawings, lyrics, poems, and photos that's available as a hardcover book.

Other Gruesomes members Bobby Beaton and John Davis have their own side project, Fuad & The Feztones. Their music is r & b/early fratrock, Boogaloo your socks off music that's as fun as their name suggests. If you'd like to learn more about them and join in on building The Beeramid, there's more info Here. It's also available available directly from Ricochet Records in Canada and USA through Get Hip Distribution.

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