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Sky Cries Mary - Secrets of a Red Planet Award winner

Sky Cries Mary
Secrets of a Red Planet
by Dani Bandolier at 21 May 2020, 11:35 AM

Trail Records psychedelic rock artists SKY CRIES MARY (1989) fly high and bend minds out of Seattle, Washington in the USA. This band has a convoluted history that is difficult to suss out. Vocalist Roderick Wolgamott and drummer Ben Ireland are the two constant members having formed the band in the late 1980’s and count over 20 members since the band’s inception. "Secrets of a Red Planet" - the band’s 11th studio release - began as a 3 day improvisation recorded and engineered at Soundhouse Studio in Seattle, Washington where SKY CRIES MARY guitarist Jack Endino is the studio manager, He the Producer of SOUNDGARDEN and NIRVANA infamy. Founding member Ben Ireland describes wanting “to create something brave and gorgeous, so we took a lot of risks, taking care to avoid cliches. Each member brought a high level of musicianship to the sessions. A cosmic telepathy of sorts evolved our music into orchestral compositions.” Lead singer Roderick Wolgamott describes his lyrics as “personal and autobiographical, yet rooted in the mystical Persian tradition. Through vocal expression, we are consciously traveling centuries in minutes”. I don’t know about all that, but sounds like it could be fun. Interesting fact - In 2012, former SKY CRIES MARY bassist Jon “Juano” Davison joined British progressive rock band YES taking Jon Anderson’s spot as their lead vocalist –  a cracking gig. As a result, he was unavailable to rejoin the band when they reconvened in 2016.

First track ‘Waves of Mourning’ opens with bitchin’ tanpura drone and immediately gets my attention … I never wanted to truly be freefree from desire … the song whirling and hurtling towards the refrain at the 4 minute mark that reminds me so much of Marty Balin - Grace Slick singing together that it damn near puts me on me knobby knees remembering the good-time soul shining vibes of JEFFERSON AIRPLANEthe fix is in‘Die of Laughter’ continues with the Debra and Roderick good girl-bad guy vocals and I am a-liking the obvious DOORS - VERVE swerve with the guitar players painting more from the Nick McCabe palette than the Robby Kreiger colours. I do wonder who played the synthesizers since nobody was directly credited. ‘Intermezzo’ is a cool instrumental and has an Eddie Van Halen-in-a-chopper guitar intro slicing into a freakout fadeout. ‘Trapeze Dancer’ goes full KASABIAN-TAME IMPALA, calling up ‘5 to 1’  by the DOORS and U2’s ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ with Debra and Roderick alternately singing and breathing the song … how to surviveI want to knowhow to liveinside the show … This tune-age I doth proclaim my favorite song. By the way, ‘Trapeze Dancer’ will also be released as a short film based on the single, a collaboration with Portland artists COASTAL STATES and Eye Contact Maui. Righteous.

‘Drunken Pilot’ has a hazy melody and even hazier lyrics … I can watch the paint dry, I can uncoil your toil … but the chip-chop mescaline synthesizer lines save the day; I just cannot get enough slices of that 3rd eye baloney. Roderick strokes backward vocals at the 7 minute mark à la the ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ orgy scene. If the band dons black hooded robes and screws the crowd while they perform, I am ordering a ticket for their next gig like now and hope I can get past the gate. Closer track ‘Born from My Mouth’ offers more of the same three-ring circus organ grinder madness with the whole band taking turns on their high-wire and trapeze act, all without a net.

Compared to ‘THIEVES & SIRENS’ from 2017, this release is the ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN kid that put on a couple of years, went to Ozra - then tuned in and dropped any semblance of remaining in the perception of a square song. Which is to say, there is much more written song focus on ‘THIEVES & SIRENS’. ‘SECRETS OF A RED PLANET’ get’s half naked in the psychedelic skinny dipping pool – we get the live musical psilocybin freakout and not so much a deliberately penned studio illusory experience. But I dig it - its a musical work born from live performance. These are some seasoned hands on deck and ‘SECRETS OF A RED PLANET’ gives us a Titanic ocean-crossing cozmic trip without the iceberg part, and at the end of the day I wish I saw more bands that possessed this synaptic fearlessness - even if you may end up in the life boats.

The dani bandolier Spotify playlist of reviewed bands … you have only your chains to lose.

stoner-guía luz negra on Spotify

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Waves of Mourning
2. Die of Laughter
3. Intermezzo
4. Trapeze Dancer
5. Drunken Pilot
6. Born from My Mouth
Roderick James Wolgamott - Vocals
Curt Eckman - Bass
Jack Endino - Guitar
Ben Ireland - Drums
Debra Reese - Vocals
Kevin Whitworth - Guitar
Record Label: Independent


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