On one hand my kids need to eat, on the other, bitchin’ heavy psych albums like this drop from the sky demanding instant vinyl purchases. I’ll worry about making PB&J sandwiches with the heal of the loaf for my kids who don’t like crust after I pick my jaw up from the dirty floor where it dropped upon a listen to No Keys earlier today.
This is a great moment. I've been looking forward to some new Dommengang since their last album made into my Best Of The Year list. Pretty psyched for this one. Fine psych/classic/groove rock from these gents.
On No Keys, Dommengang channel the wailing, psych-rock abandon of their previous work into a lean, dark-edged record colored by loss, change, and the sheer force of growing musicianship. Guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem have grown closer even as they live and travel ever-further apart, and No Keys captures the raw energy of their moments together, with wailing, improvised blues-rock as unrelenting as it can be tender.
No Keys reflects the sprawl of Dommengang’s spiritual home of Los Angeles; this is music for the late-night drive into the California desert, a real and metaphorical escape for a rootless band always searching for a balance between the city and the rougher expanses of nature. That restless spirit lives in No Keys’ hazy, fuzzed-out guitar and the pure catharsis of Dommengang’s highest riffs, which approach the warm, double-voiced textures of the Grateful Dead or Canned Heat while touching a nerve all their own.
No Keys was recorded with guitarist and engineer Tim Green (Joanna Newsom, Howlin’ Rain, Sleepy Sun, Fresh and Onlys, Golden Void )—now a close collaborator, if not family, of the band. Dommengang records live with minimal overdubs, and their spontaneous force, rooted in the joy of playing together, is undeniable on every track, from muscular riffs to scorched-earth dirges to sweeping ballads.
The liveness is tempered by only a few effects and additional instrumentation, introduced in the mixing stages: the skittering reverb and echoes that lend Sig’s guitar solos their trademark stratospheric quality, the rippling distortion adding depth and weight to Markham and Bulgasem’s hypnotic groove, a touch of lap steel and Hohner organ. Guest vocals from Camilla Saufly-Mitchell (Golden Void) on “Jerusalem Cricket” temper Markham’s cries of “No keys,” and Adam Parks’ (Timber Rattle) buzzing organ rounds out album closer “Happy Death (Her Blues II)”.
No Keys is rock’s primeval power incarnate—alive and well, even if it’s sometimes living out of its van, without a key to a permanent home.