Band: Vista Chino / Album: Peace / Release: 9.3.2013 / Label: Napalm Records
Having recently been through a court battle with a former member over name rights, Kyuss Lives! have undergone a name change and emerged as…Vista Chino. We won’t get into any of that here. Here we will focus on life’s most important element – music.
But, it is difficult not to compare the sound and vibe of Vista Chino‘s debut album, Peace, to Kyuss Lives!. Because Vista Chino, whilst being a different band, essentially ARE Kyuss Lives!. There’s simply no way to ignore it (as if you’d want to): John Garcia’s unmistakable, soulful-smooth vocals coupled with Brant Bjork’s powerhouse drumming, and Nick Oliveri’s signature bass beats. But! I said I wouldn’t get into lawsuit semantics and I won’t.
So, I’m going to ask you to put all legal negativity out of your mind and imagine yourself driving down a road in the middle of nowhere with the top down. You hit the “play” button on your stereo and a cool summer breeze caresses your neck just as the music begins, which sets off an electric sensation that runs its way down your spine to your balls, wrapping them in a tingly, fuzzy, dirty warmth. That tingly, fuzzy, dirty warmth IS Peace by Vista Chino!
Now it’s time to crank it up and let Peace guide you to your unknown destination on wings made of desert sand and burning-molten asphalt. You will want to keep driving until you play it all the way through and then turn around and start over. This album is top of the class, head of the field, leader-of-the pack…pure Desert Rock.
John Garcia is still an artisan of the desert rock vocal universe; he’s just more laid back about it now as you can hear in the less aggressive vocals on Peace. But don’t let this deter you, as Garcia kicks it into high octane in all the right places on Peace, delivering an unfaltering melodic balance throughout.
Take “Adara” for example, on which John’s vocals are simply awe-inspiring, running in perfect parallel to the sadly sweet instrumentation. His aggressive tonality gives the almost tribally transient song the swift kick in the balls that it needs.
This is continued into “Dark and Lovely.” I love this track, which sounds like a wild jam and that’s what Peace sounds like overall; old friends jamming and having a helluva time doing it.
Another stellar track is “Sweet Remain” which has some very John Bonham-esque drumming by Bjork and vocals that could have been laid down by Robert Plant himself.
There are some absolutely shining moments on Peace. The cosmic jam “Planets 1 & 2” is an interplanetary cruise ship built out of psychotropic guitar solos by Bruno Fevery and the low down and dirty bass notes of Oliveri, hurdling towards a chilled-out black hole.
“Acidize? The Gambling Moose” isn’t as confusing as the title leads you to believe. Perhaps one of the coolest, cleanest guitar interludes ever recorded kicks in at the 2.30 mark. It’s sleazy, smooth, adulterated jazz meets Black Sabbath in a smokey bar. Damn cool…damn fine. It all comes to a head with a groove-sandwich of an ending. If you want guitar jams, you get em here! Bruno Fevery brings so much to the Vista Chino smorgasbord table of deliciousness with his nimble fingers of wicked riffs that you’ll probably want to rewind this song (and a few others) just to take another gooey bite or two.
I really dig the production on Peace too. Brant Bjork has unmistakably rubbed his sticky, finger-licking-good prints all over the production knobs on this one. It manages to be a dirty fuzzball fuck of a sound that has total instrumental clarity. It sounds beautiful. It sounds, well… peaceful. Yes, that may seem cliche’ and like total hippie rubbish, but the fact is that Peace sounds like a band that knows it’s direction, knows their instruments and most of all knows themselves. It may well be the physical manifestation of love or I may be crazy or high. Probably a little of both, but it’s working for me – just like this album.
The only element that I found myself pondering with nostalgia at times were John’s vocals. Wait just a second before you call bullshit, since I’ve emphatically praised his vocal performance on this album, and all of which I wrote is true. There was just a small part of me that wanted him to have that same constant, youthful, powerhouse vocals that he once possessed. However, unlike many vocalists who still try to sing at impossibly high ranges to disastrous results, Garcia has taken his unmistakable sound and uses his instrument with newfound inflection and a far greater sense of depth. And it works with the whole vibe. By the album’s end I had embraced the new sound in its entirety.
After all, this isn’t Kyruss – this is VISTA CHINO, baby! It’s a new day, a new band with a sound that could feasibly last for untold albums and decades to come. Peace kicks all the right asses, punches all the right heads and slaps all the right booties.
Don’t go out and buy Peace based on feelings of nostalgia. Go out and buy it based on the fact that Vista Chino have created a new monster, a new desert, a new Green Machine and it’s pure Peace.
I give Peace 5 out of 5 skulls!
Do yourself a favor and get yourself some Peace! Pre-Order it now…
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Watch the just-released video sampler of Peace here:
Rob Ryles lives in Melbourne, Australia. When he’s not writing for RockRevolt Magazine covering all of the things happening on his continent, taking sexy-selfies or trying to bring back that 80’s pornstar look, you can find him drinking in a bar, playing guitar & singing in his punk rock band Bricks.