Mondo Drag: New Rituals

[10 May 2010]

By Stephen Haag

Hailing from the psychedelic hotbed of, uh, Davenport, Iowa, this stomping five-piece recalls the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth… namely the mid-‘70s, when Led Zeppelin crossed bombast, prog, and cherry-picked mythology to conjure up epics like “Achilles’ Last Stand”. So yes, Mondo Drag boldly goes where many others have gone before on the ironically-titled New Rituals, but the band pulls it off with aplomb, as well as with the requisite saxophones and keyboards, from the swaggering, start-stop rhythms of “Light as a Feather” to the jazzy Deep Purplisms of “Fade Out”, the glam boogie of “Serpent Shake” and the pastoral “Black River”. While some songs are little more than excuses to jam for five-plus minutes (viz., “The Apple”), the band—led by lead guitarist Jake Sheley and bassist Dennis Hockaday—can really bring it, and rarely devolve into stoner rock drudgery/wankery. Mondo Drag may be dwelling in the genre ghetto of ‘70s psych/hard rock revivalism, but damned if they don’t do it well.

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