I only get my rocks off on the road – Theme to a psychedelic Western – a ‘potted’ history of the Marlboro Men - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #107

So the second record from Australia/Spain/Sweden’s superb Marlboro Men just dropped, did you download it? I did, I’ve been watching intently; I intend to watch intently any band which features an image of a cowboy riding a dinosaur on their debut album. Their first album was the soundtrack to the cover. The gloriously insane and beautifully enjoyable and criminally underrated theme to an imaginary (psychedelic) western. It wasn’t original like Goat, but like that Super Oil 69 loveliness it was so damn right on and righteously motivated y’ couldn’t help but be dragged in and washed ashore in a strangely peaceful haze of psychedelics. It was so bang on I still spin it, but I never wrote about it before because I wanted to keep this little discovery all to myself. I’d judge all humans with opening question “what do you think of the Marlboro Men’s debut album?” and they usually looked lost and confused and I assumed they were not one of the chosen (very) few. The Marlboro Men consistently drop a blues that is so soothing and righteous I’d subscribe it to insomniacs who don’t respond to strong drugs. So when their new album ventured onto the scene I started to get a little worried, there was a lot of talk about how it was different to the first, because the first was a chilled out train ride on a blisteringly hot Aussie afternoon, ZZ Top after three bongloads. It was so laid back it was just lying spread-eagled on the salty desert floor having a staring contest with the midday sun.

Release one.
The first album was a revelation, not only could we all bask in the sultry dusty sun of the genius of that album artwork, but the whole thing reeked of sweaty sundrenched sundeck antics moving at a quarter of a mile an hour. A snail’s pace galavant in the early evening fuzzy the next day but smooth and super. Summertime was in the cracks in that record, the needle dug out little bits of it with every spin. The sound was so warm, even the MP3 sounded like the reassuring duvet-cuddle of vinyl. The opener, Almeria Mirage, was one of the truly great instrumental rock tracks of 2011 (one of the few good songs) but I kept it hidden away. I guess now they’re revealing themselves to be a bona-fide post-Kyuss phenomenon capable of lord-knows how much productivity I better get with the sharing and start spreading the word about your new favourite band.

The new album is just that, wholly new; Who Says You Can’t Get High at 95 Miles Per Hour is far more rocking than its predecessor. The guitars for a start, are so bleedingly raw you’re liable to catch salmonella. The bass is an electric snake, upgraded from its role as strictly backing in the first record to full on front-end poundery; all this musical manoeuvring could have diverted the Marlboro Men away from what made them them but the record gets the same Cajun dressing finish as all of their work and it just works. The first album was the soundtrack to an imaginary psychedelic western, this new record is the soundtrack to an unreleased Mad Max movie starring Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill. It’s full-auto carburettor-smelting ironmongering down the tarmac at the titular 95 miles an hour, with the lens six inches off the ground and the nose of the car zig-zaggin’ both ways across the screen and you’re sitting there with mouthfuls of masticated popcorn and eyes wide and amazing. Yeah! Yeah! It’s like the ZZ Top Gimmie All Yer Lovin’ video ‘cept cut with clips from Mad Max! yeah! Gone is the dirty vocal from a man who sounds like he smoked and leather-beat his larynx and then volunteered it as an opal-miners’ pub carpet for twenty years; the new album is a wholly instrumental trip, but I kinda miss those easy-accessible pseudoblues growled and squawked out all over the debut…

Enough about what this new record hasn’t got! Review the record you’re given, not the one you imagined. What it has got is a furious attitudes backed up by a gruff-looking buzzsaw guitar that mercilessly ploughs through the tarmac like a runaway snowplough. A highway is built in the mind by this record, the workies get at it and build it in record time; marvellous construction of a flat, beautifully snooker-smooth black highway stretching across the unending desert. There’s a whole opening committee, the great and the good of the town line up, but before they can cut the ribbon they are set upon by the bikeys, fearsome Hell’s Angels lookalikes brandishing switchblades and all wearing the same slit-throat mad grin under their face-fuzz. The little desert town had no idea what was bearing down on them the day the Marlboro Men came around, Genghis Khan on an iron steed with a fire-breathing anus and rock and roll eyes, rolling down the highway and through the eye of a beer can and up your daughters leg with no quarter asked, and none given. A devastating, barely-conceivable sadistic masochistic debaucherous clan of barely-caged aggression, inspiring dumbstruck terror at every stop on the pristine road. No time for stop signs, no cooling it down around the bend, no room at all for mistakes. The only danger is the threat of some other crazed outlaw pulling exactly the same shit hauling ass the opposite way. Who says you can’t get high at 95 miles per hour? Now let me tell you, I labour in the musical orchard most days, and lounge against the trees most evenings, and there’s nobody out there on the same road as the Marlboro Men, and nobody who could catch them if they tried.

Who Says You Can't Get High at 95 Miles Per Hour is available for just six Aussie dollars here at their bandcamp.
Written under duress by Steven.

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