The power of the void. Restrained authority. The synergy between psychedelic space rock and cosmic roots music. These are high musical concepts that SoCal trio Acetone (viz. guitarist Mark Lightcap, bassist Richie Lee and drummer Steve Hadley) has grasped firmly and has adopted as its collective mission statement.
Their previous releases—Cindy (1993); I Guess I Would (1994), If You Only Knew (1996); Acetone (1998)—demonstrated the trio’s brave new world of stoner-pastoral vibes, without being able to attract the sort of attention their verve and craft deserves. Hopefully, the spanking new album entitled York Blvd will do the trick.
Equal parts Pink Floyd, (Vapor label owner) Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Allman Brothers Band, The Who and the Velvet Underground, Acetone’s latest opus boasts an “in-your-face” ‘live’ feel with an intensity that comes across like three talented musicians playing in your living room.
The foundation of the Acetone sound is Lee’s fluid bass chord structures underpinned by Hadley’s unfussy, subtle percussion. Lightcap is then able to insert primarily skeletal guitar embellishments and a fragile albeit wistful voice that emphasizes Acetone’s other worldliness and down home familiarity—a riveting dichotomy.
And when the occasion calls for it, Lightcap’s soloing finesse evokes prime Clapton, Gilmour and Hendrix in dexterity and tone. Check out “Vibrato” for languid fret virtuosity. Elsewhere, the bad boogie slide on “Like I Told You” and “It’s a Lie” definitely raises the ghost of Duane Allman.
Retro and futuristic concurrently, Acetone has no difficulties making nonsense of such perceived differences. From the lazy hip-hop of “Things Are Gonna Be Alright” to the jagged power mod of “Wonderful World”, from the slowburn “Stray” to the ragged glory of “19”, Acetone is adept at achieving the improbable, dragging ‘70s rock into the alternative rock arena where it thrives and prospers. With spare instrumentation and bare boned arrangements, with deliberately extended jams (many of the songs span over five minutes) and subtle atmospheric moods, Acetone is able to be aggressive, progressive, expressive and impressionistic whenever it is needful. York Blvd. is at the apex of a movement, a principle that never concedes emotional impact for stylish formats, Acetone dig deep into the core of modern-day rock and find a country-blues heart.
// Notes from the Road
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