The most exciting local album release of 2015 has to go to Easy Giant’s debut album “Holy Wave.” The brainchild of Thick Newton and Terraplane front man Chris Emmington, this solo psychedelic rock album comes at you like an electric wave. It’s early-90’s Seattle grunge mixed with 60’s West Coast rock meets ambient indie. It creates a dreamy, timeless mood that feels both happy and lost at the same time.
Recorded in his home studio with the help of friend and bandmate Ryan Taylor of The Sextones, “Holy Wave” presents a deeply textured album that reveals something new with every spin. Distorted keys and layered vocals built around fuzzy guitar and organ riffs create a sense of otherworldliness that is somehow still familiar.
The sound reminds me of modern psychedelic rock groups like Fleets Foxes and Tame Impala, as well as classic indie rockers Pavement. It’s the perfect way to start a morning of riding or wind down at the end of one.
Opening track “California” is a Nirvana-infused slow burner mixed with just a hint of The Kinks and Velvet Underground. “Books” offer some classic, crunchy funk. Like the other songs under three–minutes on the album this track is just an idea; it presents a theme, gives you a taste, plays with it and fades out, leaving rife opportunities to be remixed and reimagined as time goes on.
It’s early-90’s Seattle grunge mixed with 60’s West Coast rock meets ambient indie.
The reverb drums and ambient rock of “Slow Dance” takes listeners to a washed-out landscape of a stony daze. “Future Stare” is a fantastic slacker rock single of synthesized fuzz featuring a Norwegian Wood-esque riffs and dreamy vocal overlays. The drums sounds far away in “Flow,” which pairs the background music from a Pulp Fiction dance party with a desperate bird call.
Title track “Holy Wave” is reminiscent of David Bowie with its wah-wah guitar and wall of sound vocal harmonies. The shimmering ambience of the instrumental “Mt. Shasta” provides echoing keyboards in a room of mirrors and sounds like going through a warp zone. “On My Way” begins with mysterious vocals before building to a satisfying crescendo of Yes-like keyboards.
Later in the album, “Heartz” features some nicely drowned harmonies and guitar jamming, while the catchy “Love Potion” channels Yo La Tengo at their spacey dream pop best. The 1:47 minute “Daze” provides a barely distinguishable falsetto over a heartbeat baseline. Album closer “Lightning” is a surf rock opus that ends with a fade out of Taylor’s psychedelic ragtime keyboards revisited from the beginning of the album, offering a nice final touch to well-constructed effort.
Emmington has succeeded in mixing and blending the sounds of the album to create seamless captivating listening experience. You can never quite hear what the man is saying but you don’t care because it simply sounds good, and that’s what makes it intriguing. The album just flows – you forget it’s on – and in some ways that is the best kind of music, the kind that you notice at first, and then you don’t, because it meshes with your environment and with your thought so well.
Above all, this album is eminently listenable; you can hear it once and then play it again from the top. Sure to become a favorite in your music rotation, it is a truly creative, well-produced effort and a testament to Emmington’s talent and ambition. As it is, “Holy Wave” stands alone in terms of cohesiveness and creativity in the realm of local Tahoe albums, a rightfully celebrated effort from one of our own.
You can learn about Easy Giant’s upcoming tours and projects at easygiantband.com.