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THE STEVENSON RANCH DAVIDIANS – Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs (CD, self-released)

Posted: January 21st, 2007, by Simon Minter

The Davidians were featured on the excellent Psychedelica Volume One compilation with the reverb-heavy, swooning ‘Getting By’. This is included here on this twelve-track album, which follows similar stylistic themes to that track: blissed-out shoegazing guitar music with one foot in the dreamy Californian desert of the late ’60s, the other in the introspective, effects-drenched world of Ride, Slowdive, Spiritualized, the Telescopes and so on.

As the album goes by, the mood rarely deviates from a sleepy-eyed, drowsy tempo. Vocals are delivered in a soft drawl that heavily recalls Richard Ashcroft when The Verve were at their best (circa A Northern Soul, as if you need to know), and the music is a fantastic blur of echoed, sweet guitar, with Hammond organ tones filling out the background. It’s to the Davidians’ credit that they don’t let the soporific nature of this music dip into a dirge – it’s carefully handled and contains enough melodic richness and drug-addled hypnotic grooviness to keep things fresh.

The music also steers clear of a kitsch ’60s bubblegum trap by introducing dark elements that create a foreboding sense of night on tracks like ‘Inbetween Everything’ and ‘Don’t Get Hung Up’, with brooding basslines and thick swells of sound that create a fog of sound that hovers in the room. Final track ‘No Tomorrow’ sees the album out with a pained and desperate sense of anguish – bluesy guitar lines developing into a mantra of noise that ends up exploding into itself.

Despite the heavy-handed gimmick of having vinyl noise and the sound of a turntable turning itself off grafted onto the end of the album – not really necessary, to be honest – this album shows the Davidians to be a band that are at ease with some obvious influences, and totally capable of lining up as equals with those influences.

The Stevenson Ranch Davidians

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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