Thomas Gainer (guitar/keyboard/vocals), Rick Moore (bass) and Daniel Petrus (drums) are Velvet Bison. In 2015 they released their self-titled debut and are back with a four-song EP entitled Red Desert Ocean EP. The songs fit into the psych rock category and build on the foundation they built with their LP.
They open with “Star Gazer” which starts with a solid rocking riff not far off from a band like Ty Segall or many other garage bands out there. The song is mostly fuzz with some lyrics thrown on top between instrumental parts. The vocalist sings, “Star gazer you are / The child of a thousand stars / Searching through the haze / To find those cosmic rays.” The song has a little drum solo which may have been a tip of hat to the Led Zeppelin song “Moby Dick.”
Up next is “Red Desert Ocean” which is eight-plus-minutes long. It sounds as if there are two vocalists on this track but maybe it is just Gainer singing high. I’m not sure if the eight-plus- minutes are justified. Some parts linger for awhile and I thought the song was going to end. That being said the song is quite epic. As in the first song the vocals don't seem to be that vital of a part of the music.
The highlight was “Welcome to America” which felt like the most original song to me. I thought the organ worked nicely in the song and the bass and guitar parts were inventive. The song sounds like it's about to fall apart at times but comes back together. They close with “Gone with the Light” which burns slowly for the most of the song. I was again reminded of Led Zeppelin on this track. The band eventually builds the song up and starts to rock out.
I think the next logical step for Velvet Bison is to aim for a step up in production and recording quality. There is no doubt these songs would be more impactful if the production was on par with records released by Ty Segall or death from above 1979.
The songwriting is consistently good but the competition is fierce out there since this garage/psych resurgence happened. If Velvet Bison can do a little tweaking and bring up the production value I wouldn't be surprised if they start accumulating a large following.
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