ALBUM REVIEW: JACK HARLON & THE DEAD CROWS – THE MAGNETIC RIDGE

I used some time today to circle back to the latest from Australian rockers Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows. Back in 2018, I stumbled across their album Hymns on Bandcamp and it knocked me down with its utter coolness, so I was pretty stoked to check this out when I heard it was being released in 2021. Then I forgot about it when it came out back in late May. Geez. Where’s my head at? Better late than never, I suppose?

The album sounds pretty awesome, with a clean production approach that lets every instrument shine. The drums sound great, with enough body and attack to drive the tunes when the going gets tough, and enough subtlety to steer the quieter parts too. The bass is gritty and bottom heavy, filling out the lower frequencies like a boss but cutting through as well to let you hear every note. The layers of guitar provide a ton of texture, from fuzzy chords to more saturated leads, plus weird effects and even some atmospheric wash. The vocals are solid and sit at a perfect spot in the mix, being neither too prominent or lost in the soup. The use of reverb and distortion on the vox works well and helps tie it all together nicely. The songs have a density to them that conveys the maturity of the song-writing that’s involved.

While I’m not sure if this eclipses Hymns (man, that album is dang near perfect and I listen to it often!), this is certainly a bad ass rock and roll album and is very well worth your time if you’re into bluesy, psychedelic heavy rock with concept album vibes. Check it out! – Jason

The Tale Of – The album opens with acoustic guitars accompanied by some electric accents and distantly mixed soundscapes, definitely setting the mood for the dusty futuristic western setting of the album. It’s a singer-songwriter sort of journey for the first two-plus minutes, the drums and bass joining in eventually (along with alien guitar sounds). It’s a chill sort of groove that works well. It gets pretty heavy as the song progresses and the bass sounds gnarly in the mix toward the end. Thumbs up.

The Magnetic Ridge – A lone fuzzy guitar opens this cut before the bass and pounding toms lead us into the tune. I’m instantly headbanging in delight. This is a rocker! The bluesy bends in the guitars sound awesome and make the bass groove that much more interesting, and the chorus is thick as a brick and lifts the tune well with gloriously fuzzed out sludge riffs and a cool vocal. Thumbs way up.

De La Luna – This brief interlude is built upon what sounds almost like the drone of a sitar with some slick guitar licks layered up top. It’s a short intro for the following track.

Rat Poisoning – Holy crap, this tune comes out of the gate swinging for the fences with a massively sludgey riff that straight up slams with the best of them. HEAVY. The cool guitar effects in the right channel are radical too. As a matter of fact, shout out to this band for their excellent use of effects as ear candy – never over-doing it but always killing it with these little details. The calmer and more hypnotic verse rides a relaxed groove that easily gets my head a-bobbing as it builds back to fuzzed out perfection. I like the use of dynamics across this song, ebbing and flowing and kicking out the ever-loving jams. The extended double-time instrumental bridge is great, especially for how it tees up the end of the song to come thundering back in. Thumbs way up!

Dream Sequence 1 – This is a weird little dialogue-based interlude that sounds trippy with a heavily effect voice glitching through a statement. It’s more or less a short intro for the next track, so it’s fine.

Langolier – Man, this is another tasty rocker! I’ve got a hint of a scowl plastered across my face and I’m banging my head in agreement with the insistent groove. This is thick AND catchy with slick fuzzy riffs and a cool vocal melody. The big riff that hits near the three-minute mark lands hard – HEAVY! Thumbs up.

Stray – The tempo comes up and I dig the glitchy guitar stutter that preceeds the rest of the band piling in on this track. This one is a bit wild and chaotic at the start, and that’s wonderful news. The country-western influence in some of the verse guitar bits is killer. This song cooks! I love the energy and the band is jamming it out hard. This is grade A stoner rock, and I love how they slow down the ending. Thumbs up!

Dream Sequence 2 – Here we have another interlude featuring more glitchy dialogue. It’s short and sweet, no complaints and pretty cool.

The Painter In The Woods – The band presents this track with a smokey, dust-belt-town sort of vibe that feels like desert psychedelia. It’s a smoldering sort of slow-burner of a song. The delayed vocals are the focus of this groover, and that’s alright. No complaints.

Absolved Pt. 1 – The bass gets to open this track and gets my blood pumping for the up-tempo romp that ensues once the band joins in! Rocker! I like how the left channel guitar mostly sits out the verses of this song, letting it hit that much harder when it comes back in. This tune rules! It’s catchy, energetic, and scratches the riff itch nicely. Thumbs way up.

Absolved Pt. 2 – As the title suggests, this is a continuation of the prior track, and I’m not all that sure why it’s treated as a separate track, except that the vocals seem to drop out in favor of some guitar leads. The massively heavy riffing two-thirds the way through rule and I’m still into it. Thumbs still up.

Black Road – After the electrified intensity of Absolved, the quiet, clean guitars that open this track are a nice palate cleanser and work well with the bluesy slide guitar accents that follow. The dirtier chorus that inevitably comes lands nicely and gives the song a cool destination. Parts of this remind me of the guitars in Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, and that’s about the most left-field reference I think I’ve made on this blog yet. This is a solid rock song and I’m into it.

1 thought on “ALBUM REVIEW: JACK HARLON & THE DEAD CROWS – THE MAGNETIC RIDGE

  1. Pingback: YEAR END REVIEW – 2021 | supercorrupter

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