Upon hitting play on this record I immediately got transported into a very psychedelic space. The drums and guitar on Dire Wolves’ ‘The Process Of Weirding Out,’ inject the right amount of atmosphere into a track that feels like an album cut from one of Jefferson Airplane’s best records. I hear a lot of Grace Slick in the singer Georgia Carbone and Laura Naukkarinen’s voices. Whether or not the Airplane was a direct influence on this song, the echoes of 1960s San Francisco are acutely felt here. One of the problems I find with a lot of psychedelic music is that the singer tends to pale in comparison to the rest of the band, and delightfully, that’s not the case here.
Dire Wolves’ second song ‘Lake Of Moon,’ opens with nice chords and a riff that reminds me of the 13th Floor Elevators. I think an x-factor to this band is the violin. It took me a second to figure out what instrument I was hearing, which is a testament to Arjun Mendiratta’s ability to blend in with the rest of the band.
Their last song on the split, ‘One Day The Sun Rose Blood Red Over The Hill,” takes the psychedelic aspects of their music further into the future. This record sounds a lot like a girl fronting Spacemen 3 which sounds as good as it does on paper. I also hear elements of 80s goth-rock with the echo on the vocals. Subtle tribal drums fit nicely with the rest of the song. My only criticism of the song is I might have mixed the guitar little lower, but perhaps the band wanted more emphasis on guitar than vocals.
Dire Wolves succeed in bringing the right kind of psychedelic vibes to their music on the first side of this split. As I said before, my biggest problem with most psych music is the vocals fall short, and this record has some of the best psych vocals I’ve heard in a long time. I highly recommend listening to this band and look forward to seeing what they come up with next.
Headroom’s first track, ‘Aomidori,’ has a heavy opening, but the lead is melodic enough that even with noise the track manages to be catchy. This music is psychedelic but brings to mind more of a combination of shoegaze with 90s indie rock and 80s underground. I hear some J. Mascis in the guitars, but that’s as close to a particular band that any element of this track reminds me of.
‘Ling Chi’ takes this up a notch. The scramble of noise hear reminds me of being a high school kid listening Daughters or The Locust, which may be the furthest bands from what influenced this track. I enjoy a good patina of noise and this one is pretty fun. Maybe not music to play for mom, but it will definitely wake you up in the morning. Again, this track even more so sounds like nothing else I’ve heard before and is even more original than ‘Aomidori.’ Great use of synth to add to the cacophony of sounds.
After ‘Ling Chi,’ I have no idea what to expect with ‘Soft Power.’ Do they get even crazier or return to the sound of ‘Aomidori’? The answer is the latter, but with more droning on the guitars. I really like the style of the guitar players in the band, and the rhythm section is tight enough that it doesn’t feel meandering in the way some instrumental rock can. Farfisa and synth add nice texture to the song. I recognize a sound I believe is from the Korg Microkorg, but it’s used in effective stabs. ‘Soft Power’ never gets boring, and as someone who doesn’t listen to much instrumental rock, I’m impressed.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Dire Wolves / Headroom split. They’re very different bands, and one might prefer one to the other, but they both bring something interesting to the table musically. In a time when so much music seems like it simply follows the latest trends, it’s nice to hear music that doesn’t feel like a distinct product of 2018.
Classical violinist and piano player. Mostly self-taught guitarist took lessons with Vic Juris who was sampled for Gang Starr’s Mass Appeal hit. Appeared in Music of the Heart with Meryl Streep (d. by Wes Craven.) Long-time home-recording artist.