Music Reviews
Cold In The Guestway

Gypsyblood Cold In The Guestway

(Sargent House) Rating - 7/10

A producer announces over the introductory guitar notes of Take Your Picture that what you’re hearing is “take 1.”  What you’re actually hearing is “band attempt No. 2” from the nucleus of Gypsyblood, Adam Jones and Kyle Victor.  As a “band”-aid, pun intended, adhered to whatever festering wound was left after the break-up of their first band, Karma (With A K), Gypsyblood does raise the question about creative partnerships:  Did the break-up offer these two a clean enough slate to do something better?

The fact that Jones and Victor have managed to work together after the tumultuousness of their first band’s dissolution, (Victor walked offstage after a live show and made his way home without his band’s company), confirms some kindred, or at least common, creative alliance, the results of which can be heard in Cold In The Guestway.  Gypsyblood’s debut winds up an interesting mixture of popularized indie rock sounds, namely the hazy lo-fi/garage rock sheen that’s more or less defined the millennial imperative to sound vintage and, thereby, sound credible. 

While I don’t want to minimize their songwriting for the sake of carefully chosen “raw” production, the anti-clarity Gypsyblood achieves remarks a great deal about what you’ve been listening to for the last ten years and what new trends are currently surfacing.  The Phil Spector-fetishism of Vivian Girls (A Song Called Take 2), Yuck’s revisionism of Dinosaur Jr. (When I Was A Boy), The Horrors’ interpretations of Bauhaus and the Jesus & Mary Chain (Bright Futures), the maximized volume and vocalized tones of Japandroids (Take Your Picture):  It’s all in here. 

Summary, though, or not, Cold In The Guestway manages to steer clear of painting-by-numbers.  In Our Blood is like an impassioned pile driver, pairing soft and rugged.  They utilize this pairing with R.K.O. Is M.I.A. as well; rapid snare beats interestingly offsetting the slow plucking of guitar strings while the vocals rally together like a wave of drunken cheer.  Endless Summer comes off like delinquent New Wave while Dirty Thieves captures the free-spirited acoustic jam nature of something like Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions series.  It’s probably the album’s most spontaneous sounding moment.

While Gypsyblood earns points for coloring outside the lines a bit, other songs like 2-4-6 In The Dark and Hey Gloria, while not a complete lift, locate and puncture the Magnetic Fields/Jesus & Mary vein.  Superstition comes close to emulating a brand of garage similar to Sic Alps, though Gypsyblood’s variation sounds more complete: thicker, heavier. 

Since renewing their working relationship, Victor and James have apparently written 50 songs together.  Thinking about this number and the few times I saw the name Guided By Voices attached to Gypsyblood critique for the sake of comparison, to their credit, they can at least edit themselves sufficiently.  Cold In The Guestway is a twelve-track jolt of indie rock heft and thoughtfully altered homage, a second shot at creative redemption that yields some loud and worthwhile results.