If Spacemen 3 and Mazzy Star smoked an opium-laced hookah and conceived a flower child shod in pointy genie boots, it would be Tess Parks.
Her album Blood Hot sounds like how this must feel:
If heroin’s not your thing (and I hope it’s not), my friend Dan put it like this:
But seriously that guitar tho…cruising down the road in the summer going 85 with a sarsaparilla on the seat next to you…
Yeah, a cool glass-a sarsaparilla.
I wasn’t sure about the album right away, but it grew on me fast. The opening song, Somedays, is a catchy stomper with poppy percussion, a top-drawer guitar hook, and Hope Sandoval-y vocals. I like the way it builds, and though the cymbals get a little clattery, I think the drums really make it.
The second track, Gates of Broadway, is a sultry slow-burner with melodic vocals. The guitar tones evoke Spacemen 3, thick with doped-out bluesy psychedelia. The entire album is like that, and when you listen to it loud, it can seem droned-out and maybe monotonous for a sec, until you wake up and realize that you’re being moved by alluring rhythms and solid musicianship. I’m intrigued to learn more about her bandmates on this album: Thomas Paxton-Beesley, Anthony Nemet, and Andrew McGill.
I will say that Blood Hot gets me so good partly cuz it evokes for me so many of my favorites. (Spacemen 3, The Darkside, Mazzy Star, Opal, Brian Jonestown Massacre, even a bit of Bowery Electric.) I’ll admit that it doesn’t quite reach their heights, but I admire it for taking their sounds and those of their influences and making it into something different and delicious. I’ve read other reviews that say the album is “a bit pre-owned” and “formulaic and predictable,” which is 5% true, but largely I disagree.
I’d also like to point out that sometimes, when someone’s playing from their soul, they channel influences that they don’t even think of as influences. I remember reading, for example, that Wooden Shjips’ Ripley Johnson wasn’t even into Loop or Spacemen 3. When you hear their Loose Lips after Loop’s Be Here Now, it’s surprising, but then again, it’s not. Sometimes great minds think alike independently.
Similarly, Tess has her influences and predecessors, but her stuff stands on its own.
And most importantly, she knows how to rock ‘n roll.
In the meantime, I’ll go see what she got up to with Anton Newcombe.