Greatness On The Installment Plan: Driftwood Pyre’s “Strangeways” EP

strangeways-ep

Driftwood Pyre claimed Tulip Frenzy’s 2015 Album of the Year honors, and a few days later, we were pleased to publish an interview with the Minneapolis psych band who carried the half-filled chalice left over from First Communion Afterparty.  Where FCAP was a Summer of Love band reborn with punk grit, Driftwood Pyre revealed themselves open to other nominally more straight-ahead rock influences, including the likes of Oasis.

Now, en route to a follow-up album to their incredible Driftwood Pyre debut, they’ve released an EP, Strangeways, which fills us with confidence in their future, for this is another installment on their march toward greatness.

“Shatter Star” kicks off the proceedings with a nod to Anton Newcombe, a heretofore unacknowledged influence on Liam Watkins, either in his current band or in First Communion Afterparty, which we think was the greatest psych band of the 21st Century, no small praise. On “Into Blue” we get a taste for what a fine punk band they must be live, an exultant, up-tempo number, important to have second in the line-up lest we think that mid-tempo rockers are the land where the band resides. Courtney Olsen’s drumming kicks like a herd of wildebeest, and with the full panoply of ex-FCAP guitarist Joe Werner on lead and former Rocking Horse People-bassist Aaron James laying a solid rhythm down, we can hear the band in all its glory.

“Protozoan” is a reminder that no one starts a song with a slow-picked guitar line as sensuously as Liam Watkins. “The Tide” sounds like what woulda happened had early Dream Syndicate crashed a Television rehearsal, all jangling Fenders and too-animalistic drumming. By the time we get to the lush and sludgy title track, keyboard player Jeanne Oss adds sonic space winds to the proceedings, as Watkins’ voice reminds us of everything we loved most about his former band.

Strangeways fulfills the essential showbiz challenge: it leaves us wanting more.  For anyone who missed their chance to grok on First Communion Afterparty during that band’s unfortunately short life, you have much to look forward to with Driftwood Pyre.  For God’s sake, start now.

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