By Hale Melvin
There’s something interesting about music strongly influenced by a time and place, but which exists outside of it. With this album, and Tess Parks in general, it’s late 60’s acid rock. While it’s 50 years removed from that zeitgeist, it’s a further distillation of it.
Somewhere between the late 60’s and today, production techniques got better and singers like Tess Parks came into existence.
What separates this album from the rest of the acid-rock revival pack really is Tess’s voice. Her guitar playing is there for sure, but her voice is the x-factor that takes it to the next level. It’s not a conventionally beautiful voice. It’s raspy, has a limited range, but damn it’s got a lot of soul. It’s the type of voice that ONLY works for the music associated with it, but for us right now that’s perfectly fine.
The opener – “Somedays” sets the tone for the entire album, you essentially know what you’re getting yourself into within the first 30 seconds. It’s mid tempo. There are handclaps. There is singing but it’s just melodic enough to not be spoken word. The lyrics are there but it sort of blends into the milieu. A little bit of reverb + delay and some droning bass lines and you’ve got yourself an album.
Blood Hot isn’t just reiterations of the same formula. The fifth track, “Stick Around”, breaks the mold with a more heartfelt delivery, strings, slower overall tempo, lack of distortion and for the first time and the storytelling nature of songs come into the forefront as definite visual is being constructed. Its a mid-album highlight.
Then things return to the formula, albeit with a little twist. The next number, “Open Your Mind” has a distinct Spacemen 3/Jesus and Mary Chain vibe to it. Something about the the fuzz and background guitar track is just super late 80’s British psychedelic revival.
“Goodnight Love” is another down-tempo acoustic number, and “This Time Next Year” has a moderately intense build-up crescendo but you’re still operating within a familiar context.
The album closer, “Love Around,” shifts the formula just a little bit and you realize “oh yeah, this was produced by Anton Newcombe”. The key difference is the drum beat is a little more active and the guitar has that unmistakable Newcombe style distortion paired with that Newcombe style melody that 90% of his songs sound like, which is a good thing.