Sunday, September 13, 2015
We Are The Star People - Turn Me On Dead Man
Turn Me On Dead Man
Alternative Tentacles Records Virus 453
I knew nothing about this Bay Area band when I bought this album. I had never heard any of their music. I bought it partly because it was cheap, partly for the dazzling cover art, partly for being on Jello Biafra's record label, but mostly because of the band's name. If you are a Beatles fan you are probably aware that you can hear what sounds like the phrase "turn me on dead man" when you play "Revolution No. 9" backwards. It was one of the clues in the "Paul is dead" hoax. Being a Beatles nut myself, I couldn't resist this record and besides it looked like a psychedelic record which is one of my favorite genres. It turned out to be a fine album, I'm delighted that I bought it, but it is more heavy than psych with kind of a whacked out grungy sound, although the lyrics are often very trippy. The band kick out the jams right from the start with "Heart of the Deaf" which is a paean to an evil goth woman who the singer is attracted to. The song features a pounding rhythm, a heavy riff and plenty of hard rock noise, but it is intelligent and controlled, far from the self-indulgent excesses of heavy metal. "Dreamchild" is another powerful rocker with spacy lyrics buried in the mix like a shoegaze song. I wish it went on longer. That is not a problem for the lengthy "Deep Space Pollen" which features a request to extraterrestrials to come to Earth and take the band for a ride in their spaceship although this might also be interpreted as a drug metaphor. The song is driven by a slow, thunderous riff and lots of metallic guitar noodling. "Missing Time" describes the experience of being taken by the spaceship, although it probably is also a drug trip metaphor. It starts slow and trippy and then some power riffing takes over for awhile before giving away to a calmer conclusion. Side two opens with "Her Majesty the Drug" which is a colorful invitation to take a hallucinogenic trip. The song starts out psychedelic but then a monstrous riff kicks in reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult's classic "Godzilla." The song returns to psychedelia briefly with some lyrical sitar-like guitar sounds and then the band rocks out again. This is my favorite track on the album. I like the dramatic shifts in dynamics as well as the trippy lyrics. The band quiets down for "Let Them Eat Flowers" which is the lightest sounding song on the album. It is another drug song featuring sky and flower symbolism and it is the most overtly psychedelic song on the album. The band returns to heaviness with the hard driving "Star People" which backs up its ominous lyrics about space invaders with a powerful sonic assault that drives the song to its conclusion. The song has a prog-rock sound to it as well which makes it more interesting than a typical hard rock song. The album concludes with "Uhura" which is a sludgy instrumental that I assume is a reference to "Star Trek" in keeping with the space theme that permeates the album. As an album closer, I find it a downer. I have a limited appetite for hard rock, but this band's use of psychedelia and prog-rock to flesh out their sound makes them very appealing to me. At times I wish the music was as trippy as the lyrics, but for the most part the band's sonic roar excites me. The band's dope-crazed, sci-fi lyrics stimulate me as well. It is an imaginative and creative album that I find consistently engaging. Recommended to fans of the Warlocks and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.