The garage-doom record you always wanted, but were too afraid to ask for
If 2015 and 2016 were any indication, 2017 has certainly shows that supergroups are coming back to the forefront in a big way. While this is nothing new in the music scene, it has become more apparent, recently, that supergroups pose a necessity for most musicians, to escape redundancy and to experiment with new sounds. In the early 2000s, many big collaborative albums were produced, but were always under the guise of guest vocalist and musicians. It left a manufactured tone about the record, one that felt as though the labels were just trying to squeeze dime after dime out of shifting paradigms in musical taste. A true supergroup combines all the best attributes and skills of the players to create something fresh and exciting, for fans and musicians alike. It doesn’t always work, of course; Giraffe Tongue Orchestra is an excellent example of an extremely talented group of musicians whose full length album left far too much to be desired. The Dead Weather, on the other hand (featuring Jack White, Allison Mossheart [The Kills], Dan Fertita [Queens of the Stone Age], and Jack Lawrence [City and Colour, The Raconteurs]) have made a number of albums that continue to grab people in one direction or another. So when it was announced that King Buzzo and Dale Crover (Melvins), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes), and Omar Rodríguez-López (Mars Volta, At The Drive-In) were joining forces to create Crystal Fairy, the prospect was definitely a positive attention grabber.
Oozing with crunchy grunge riffs, the group’s self-titled debut is a tightly focused piece of psychedelic doom. The band makes excellent use of their individual strengths, the players riffing off of each other splendidly and boldly letting the listener know that they are in control. The songs command attention, from driving power chord riffs in “Secret Agent Rat” to sludgy doom rock hitters in “Moth Tongue”, to pure psychedelia in “Under Trouble.” To say that they know what they’re doing is an understatement, and while it is impossible to ignore the influences of 90s grunge (which invariably follows the Melvins’ influence from Buzzo and Crover), they make the best of it, fusing it with electronic undertones and Latin rhythms from Lopéz, and plenty of post-punk snarl from Teri Gender Bender.
To put it plainly, Crystal Fairy is both exciting and incredibly enjoyable to listen to. The collective assemblage is a supergroup, and well-labeled in this case; they definitely live up to the hype that surrounds their individual members as a cohesive unit. They’re playing with each other, not against, and they’ve managed to craft an excellent piece of music. While perhaps not as technically avant-garde as many albums by The Mars Volta, there is plenty to go around to entice even the staunchest of fans, especially in tracks like “Bent Teeth.”
Overall, the album is 41 minutes of pure musical enjoyment, daring people to get the hell up and dance around their apartment like the fools that we all are at heart. Unafraid to be weird, unafraid to be loud, and unafraid to feel, Crystal Fairy is one of those albums that reminds us just how much fun music is to make.