Those disappointed in the new album by the Sword – and God knows there are a lot of you – should find a great deal of solace in Talismana, the debut album by fellow Austinites Sweat Lodge. In spite of hailing from the same city and peddling similarly jaunty stoner romps, though, Sweat Lodge aren’t exactly musical twins of the Sword, more like kissing cousins: Cody Lee’s expressive vocals, while lacking in technical virtuosity, are out in front of the fuzzed out guitar/bass tone rather than subsumed by it, as is typically the case with the Sword’s J.D. Cronise. Caleb Dawson’s drumming also carries more of a swinging boogie cadence than the more straight ahead “splash the pot” style of his Sword counterpart, Jimmy Vela III.
In fact, taken back-to-back there is seemingly no call to compare the two bands aside from geographical proximity, and indeed, if the Sword hadn’t taken such a hard left turn with their near-simultaneous release High Country we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation; but High Country left an itch unscratched that Talismana is just close enough to provide ample balm for.
“Phoenix Ascent” and the title track veer the closest to the Sword’s agile doom aesthetic, but just as much of this album’s brief 35 minute running time is given over to lighter fare like “Boogie Bride” and “Tramplifier”, both upbeat fuzz rock songs in the California desert rock vein (ie. Kyuss, Fu Manchu). Hooks abound and are the primary reason to give Sweat Lodge a shout, not just because they’re a placebo for a pill that’s no longer working.