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Pharlee - Pharlee Award winner

Pharlee
Pharlee
by Dave Nowels at 30 April 2019, 2:31 PM

I’ll allow PHARLEE to introduce themselves:

Pharlee is a heavy-fuckin’-riff-ridin’ machine. The group was forged in the middle of the white-hot psychedelic jam scene in San Diego, California by members of Harsh Toke, Sacri Monti and Joy. Propelled by the powerfully emotional voice and fiery wail of blues-rock banshee Macarena Rivera, PHARLEE calls its energetic sound "psychedelic speed rock". Highly influenced by diverse acts such as Judas Priest, Betty Davis, Deep Purple and Motörhead, PHARLEE’S sound is equal parts soul-scorching, boogie-woogie bar rock and shadowy psych urgency. Confident and commanding, the band's debut LP is a dynamic and cracking hard rock album and a first-hand account of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the making of this head-turning new band.

That’s as accurate a description as I’d be able to muster. “Psychedelic Speed Rock” indeed. Hell yeah. PHARLEE’s debut opens with “Ethereal Woman” and my first thought is holy fuck, this is Thrash Jazz! It’s got complex time changes bordering on jam improve and a brooding presence. Macarena Rivera vocals harkens a late 60’s early 70’s vibe, while the music takes on a mind expanding consciousness. Pure craziness. It’s fuzziness, it’s sultry and it’s sexy. Think SANTANA’s “Abraxas” with Grace Slick on vocals. Very, very cool. “Creeping” finds Justin Figueroa keeping that Santana vibe going guitar wise, while Garret Lekas’ keys playing is reminiscent of Greg Rollie of Santana’s band and captures the style of Jon Lord of Deep Purple overall. Zach Oakley’s drums are maniacally rendered, replicating a constant rolling thunder.

“Darkest Hour” comes across as one of those tracks that must wail live. These guys simply have to be fans of the Jam Band scene. I’d be shocked if that’s not the case. All of the playing so far has been superb, with Dylan Donovan’s bass runs and Oakley’s drums particularly out of this world! Just when you think you have a grasp on a main theme, PHARLEE drop something different. “Warning” throws down a Middle eastern feel that I absolutely wasn’t expecting, but works incredibly well.
“Going Down” is a cover song that was originally written by Don Nix, but is  best known as being performed by the late great Freddie King. King is one of my all-time favorite blues artists, and one  I hold in the highest regard. PHARLEE does this version absolute justice. In fact, their version is simply blistering.

“Sunward” closes out this little adventure as a balls to the wall, take no prisoners sort of closer that leaves you craving more. Based on this six track release, this is a band that I can’t wait to catch live. I’m also going to be eagerly looking forward to any future output. If you’re a fan of a classic/vintage 70’s Stoner/Heavy Psychedelic music, PHARLEE definitely needs to be on your short list of bands to investigate.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Ethereal Woman
2. Creeping
3. Darkest Hour
4. Warning
5. Going Down
6. Sunward
Lineup:
Justin Figueroa - Guitar
Macarena Rivera - Vocals
Zach Oakley - Drums
Dylan Donavan - Bass
Garret Lekas – Keys
Record Label: Tee Pee Records
     


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Edited 02 February 2023
 

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