Feb 20, 2011

Tia Carrera – Cosmic Priestess ...

Tia Carrera on Small Stone Records and from Austin, Texas have surprised the hell out of me with this album titled "Cosmic Priestess" as I wasn't expecting such a psychedelic riff fest of this quality from a band I had never heard of (something I am not proud of, I must say). The band made their debut in 2009 with "The Quintessential" which is an album I am currently waiting to receive and expect a review of that album also in the near future. There is many retro-rock albums being released these days and most of them are very good, some are excellent like the recent Orchid disc, another one to add to the list is this 4 track mind-melting jam fest from Tia Carrera. This is pure jam-rock that sounds so live, that is almost sounds improvised and that adds to the magical amount of warmth of the recording. The band is just a trio, Erik Conn on drums, Jamey Simms on bass and guitar and Jason Morales who delivers more guitar and bass parts. It is totally instrumental and it so it should be, the music doesn't required vocals as that would most likely only take away some of the vibe of these tunes.

Starting with a Sabbathian riff that kicks off opening track, "Slave Cylinder" the band quickly raises goose-bumps with its spontaneous vibe. This tune is filled with psychedelic grooves that are immediate and infectious but what is appealing from the get go is the way the band works together as a unit. Feeding off each other at every turn, you can imagine the band members huddled together in the studio enjoying each others playing as much as what they are doing on their own. "Slave Cylinder" had me sold on the band on the first spin but the album only gets better from here on. Second track, "Sand, Stone and Pearl" is a more colorful track than the album opener with the use of electric piano and more variation in the playing. It is also even more of a psychedelic trip with added elements of jazzy drumming and mesmerizing guitar work from Morales. Like the opening tune, "Sand, Stone and Pearl" builds its power up at every twist and turn and it is pure 70's psyche-rock all the way but it keeps a nice balance between stoner-rock riff work-outs and 70's prog-rock musicality. Thankfully they never get pompous or repetitive and the music seems to switch just at the right time which is the albums strong-suit. "Cosmic Priestess" only has 4 songs that stretch the album past the hour mark but it is so exciting to listen to, that time flies by every time you put this magic silver disc in the player, especially while driving as this is a perfect cruising 'down the highway' kind of a record.

The main reason the album is as long as it is comes from the inclusion of the 33 minute, "Saturn Missile Battery" which I think might be the inspiration behind The Soda Shop calling this album, "a mind altering skull fuck." This track alone could have been the whole album as this is such an all encompassing piece of kick-ass rock. It begins with a lot of insane soloing and pulverizing drumming and doesn't let up till about 12 minutes later before you get to the first break in the madness. The loose live vibe means there is times when the band seems to be on the brink of going off the rails but they somehow manage to keep it together and during the 33 minutes of this tune, you do get the feeling they are perhaps pushing themselves a little beyond their musical capabilities but that is some of the magic of it. The sense that this is like a band playing right in front of you in your living room, laying down killer riffs, solos, infectious hooks but doing most of it off the seats of their pants. Of course they would have rehearse all this but a large chunk also sounds like it was played 'at the moment' and not planned at all, I might be totally wrong on that but I love that organic, natural approach to performing. "Saturn Missle Battery" is the albums center point and the albums highlight and they could have recorded this one track alone and I would have been more than satisfied.

The last tune and the weakest of the four tracks is "A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing" and this inclusion to the album seems a bit out-of-place at this late stage of the CD. Morales still delivers a stellar performance on guitar but after the 33 minutes of the previous track, this last song seems a bit overshadowed and lets say, un-needed. Some folks might find the loose structure of "Cosmic Priestess" a bit much to take but fans with a passion for the free-flowing jam band thing will surely dig the album. This band is certainly made for live performances and in that respect, Tia Carrera have captured the essence of the band very well with this recording. There are moments that will have you head-banging madly, other moments will have the air-guitar shredding like it hasn't done for a long time while other passages are very hypnotic. The psychedelic elements are very trippy indeed also and while thinking about this review and trying to think of a band that sounds like them, I came up empty. They have their own chemistry and their own way of doing things and while it is not 100% original, it still sounds very fresh to my ears. Small Stone Records have another winner with Tia Carrera's Cosmic Priestess.....8.5/10
Tia Carrera @ Facebook
Small Stone Records

2 comments :

  1. Hey, good job reviewing this badass band! Just a couple of things. 1) This is at least their 6th album and 2) it sounds improvised because IT IS :) they don't fuck around

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  2. Thanks Jess for the info, I really missed the boat with this band. I am so ashamed !!

    ReplyDelete

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