Written By: Lauren Espina
As computers continue to dominate the face of modern music, The Warlocks have been crafting guitar-driven neo-psychedelic tunes since 1998 and has offered consistency to listeners with an affinity for moody, 1960s-inspired rock and roll. Much has been said about the group’s cult status, as they have been described as underrated and underground at the center of many journalistic features.
After the late 1960s, psychedelic music did not see a return to the mainstream. While there have been notable revivals, particularly marked by the 1990s rise of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the mid-2000 emergence of The Black Angels, psych music continues to be a gift that grows through the cracks of the concrete surface of popular music.
That magical spot is exactly where The Warlocks’ music exists, and the band has developed a cult-like following, not because of its so-called underground status, but because of its steady stream of releases and the distinctive, distorted experimental songwriting prowess of Bobby Hecksher. The group’s music is so consistent that newest album, Skull Worship could have been released anytime between the band’s previous seven LPs, which is a complete compliment. The band has its shoegazing, stoner rock sound dialed in, and for this record, while so many records leave the studio squeaky-clean and polished, Skull Worship revels in all of its scuzzy, fuzzy imperfections.
With Dead Generation stationed as the first song, the record starts on a catchy, attitude-drenched note that digresses into a sleepier sound, creating a drowsy atmosphere that lasts for the better portion of the record. Skull Worship genuinely sounds like a nice combination of the band’s first two records: 2001’s Rise and Fall and 2002’s Phoenix, but is slightly hazier in its form and style.
The distortion-heavy guitars of Chameleon somehow lends themselves to an overall minimal psych outcome, while Silver & Plastic is filled out with individual acoustic guitar strums that weave a desolate sonic tapestry. He Looks Good in Space, although ultimately a dreary number, offers a slight reprieve with subtle hopeful undercurrents. The record drones forward like a dream that could at any given moment, turn into a nightmare, but ultimately serves as sonic polaroid of a moment when your mind unhinges, and you’re not sure if its good or bad. You just know it’s different, transformative and mind-altering. And that is exactly what psychedelic music is about.