It had been a little while since guitarist/vocalist/producer/bandleader/”cult”leader Chris Schlarb and his rotating group of musicians, the Psychic Temple, released some new work since last year’s folky, genre bending IV. As Schlarb and Co. continue to find new musical directions, they never cease to surprise, so the notion of dropping an album unannounced on a Wednesday seems right up these folks’ alley. That’s just what they did yesterday with the release of Houses of the Holy Vol. 1 on Joyful Noise Recordings.
The album, recorded in one day earlier this past June in Joshua Tree, California, consists of five songs. It’s a quick album, just over 17 ½ minutes. The songs are neat, pointed, a little bit fuzzy, and right on the path this group has been making toward rootsy Americana (to the point that technically, it’s so far outside of jazz, they probably should be reviewed here outside of sentimentality and the utter constant brilliance this group exudes in any musical direction they choose). “Let Me Comb Your Hair” is gently loud rock, easygoing, with Schlarb’s vocals steadily more sturdy over the years and Philip Glenn’s work on the Wurlitzer bringing many a smile in his runs. Schlarb and Clementine Creevy’s voices sound great together, wonderfully complimentary. “If There’s Kindness in the World” has Glenn’s violins prominent, which is always great to hear on a Psychic Temple album– sweet but solemn, as always. “(Who’s Selling You) Conspiracy?” gets that rollicking energy back again, helped in large part by Tabor Allen, aka Cherry Glazerr, on the drums with his peppy work, leading into Schlarb’s fun, bendy electric guitar solo. It’s one of the most Psychic Temple like songs on the album, fitting the group’s themes of control and uncertainty while fitting in some impressive solos in the midst of tight arrangements.
It’s always great to hear from this group, even in a quickly-produced, lovingly crafted EP. Chris Schlarb and the Psychic Temple have always been tricksters who you’d want to keep around a campfire, so to be blindsided by this group for a little under twenty minutes of sweetness is something one could easily abide. This is a group that finds freedom in music, even if it’s just a day in Joshua Tree to bring us all a which 18-minute EP. It’s freeing to hear something this good to play over and over again, taken in once more by the Psychic Temple.
Houses of the Holy Vol. 1, the new album from Psychic Temple, is out now on Joyful Noise Recordings.
Tabor Allen – drums, percussion, backing vocals, electric guitar on “This World”
Clementine Creevy – acoustic guitar, vocals
Davin Givhan – electric bass, backing vocals, guitar solo on “Conspiracy?”
Philip Glenn – Wurlitzer electric piano, violin, mandolin, accordion, backing vocals
Chris Schlarb – acoustic and electric guitar, vocals
Produced by Chris Schlarb
Engineered by Devin O’Brien
Recorded at Time Machine, Joshua Tree, California on June 19th, 2018
Mixed by Chris Schlarb and Devin O’Brien at BIG EGO, Long Beach, California
Mastered by Matt Murman
Photos by Devin O’Brien and Tabor Allen
Layout & Design by David J. Woodruff
Recorded using an Antelope Zen Tour and a Trident Fleximix Sidecar into Logic.
Mixed using an Audient ASP4816 and Biamp 8802.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.