When I first saw that Witch had a new album out, I was pretty stoked. Witch is the stoner metal off-shoot of Dinosaur Jr., and I’m a sucker for both stoner metal and Dinosaur Jr. What I discovered is that Witch is ALSO a Zambian rock quintet from the ‘70s. So, instead of the outsized retro-riffing of J Mascis’s band, I got something that sounded truly retro: bare-bones psych-rock with a slight Afrikaans inflection, mastered so flatly that you’ll be fiddling with the volume seconds into the first track.
It was a nice surprise, to say the least. Lazy Bones!! is the sound of five talented Africans playing their own Woodstock in someone’s cramped basement. Whereas Witch’s Western counterparts paid professional to smooth over their rough spots, though, it’s exactly these rough spots that make Witch special (their name is, according to the press notes, an acronym of “We Intend to Cause Havoc”). The mic often blows out, as if the limited recording equipment could barely contain the performance. It lends even funk cracklers like “Look Out” some proto-punk urgency while enhancing the making the melancholic “Black Tears” resonate like a warfront diary entry. This scruffiness notwithstanding, though, Lazy Bones!! is still perhaps too subdued and reverent to stand outside of time. But it’s hardly a mere curiosity either, and as a fun wah-wah-and-fuzz-guitar trip, it’s solid gold.
// Notes from the Road
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