Easy Giant’s first four releases have established Chris Emmington and company as the most popular recording artists ever to come out of the Truckee/Tahoe region.
Listen to “House of the Wizard”
“Holy Wave” of 2015 was the raw beginning recorded in Emmington’s Tahoe City apartment with keyboard wizard Ryan Taylor before he began his productive collaboration with snowboard legend Danny Davis.
“To The Moon” was released when Emmington relocated to Oslo, Norway, on a songwriter’s visa. This poignant moment in time continues to be the most popular record so far.
Then, 2017 proved to be a creatively fruitful year for the artist because he also put out the “Sierra Sierra” EP featuring the mind-altering madness of single, “House of the Wizard.”
All the while Easy Giant has attracted a steady fanbase of listeners through their strategic relationship with the international snowboarding community. The latest LP, “Old Rev,” delivered in November brings the sound of the project back to where it all began: Southern California psychedelic, surf rock.
“Wind” begins of at the intersection of Rishikesh and Huntington Beach capturing the spiritual aspect of early 1960s rock with the sensation that surfing became. Like a rider on a steep curl, there is sense of urgency in Emmington’s voice as electric guitars blare in between uncanny vocals fading to feedback like the almost invisible clouds left behind a slow-motion launch off a foam-crested roller.
The singer’s voice is layered at least as deep as the surf as “Sunriser” meets us with antique synth interwoven with Emmington’s channeled gibberish. His mad insistence continues, keyboards shrieking and pealing into jangly fuzz guitar and fat, unapologetic bass. It’s all slightly anxious, foxing and heady, full of the raw key changes and obscure lyrics that have always been Easy Giant’s mark.
Emmington’s penchant for eclectic yet memorable riffs, take on new life in this return to the psycho-spiritual side of surf rock. Both songs are so far each less than 3 minutes long as is the case with over half of tracks on the album. We sometimes forget there can be so much trippiness in short recordings; they keep you on your toes so it’s aurally activating.
“It’s only getting colder, it’s getting wonderful,” he sings on this flawless 142-beats-per-minute airplane ride through disorienting psychotropics toward somewhere presumably better. He’s relaxed, energized and in the pocket with every song delivering an almost undecipherable Pink Floyd pearl from a long-lost California abalone.
“Sandman” chills the mood back down with a horn-infused, falsetto swing before “The Tube” brings back that familiar sound for a song about surfing a giant wave. I can imagine Brit pop teenyboppers dancing Austin Powers-style on shore as this one plays out of the Big Kahuna.
The stellar “Old Dance” is an unsettlingly slowed-down version of a Talking Heads played by a 1963 garage band that you can’t help me move to. Once again, Emmington uses old-time signatures imposed over four-four time to create an Oriental groove of sine-wave transitions. It sounds like a 2020 New World mashup of re-reversed George Harrison guitar licks spun out on the midnight beach of celestial Goa.
The riff for title song “Old Rev” comes in with so much tapping echo that it creates a swirling universe all its own. Tribal beats are joined by lush vocals and warbling synth to create the beautifully textured sound of Easy Giant fully realized. That there is immense space for jamming in this formula speaks volumes to the notoriously raucous indie band’s live concerts. They recently visited a sold-out Alibi Ale Works in Truckee in November as a part of the Absinthe Films world tour for the third year.
“Mars Rover” has that Dr. Dog lo-fi sound matched with a high-pitched harmony that makes it easy to see why this is already the most popular song on the album with more than 12,000 plays within the first month of release. It’s upbeat and fun in a carefree sort of way. The song ends at 2 minutes, 26 seconds and there is a 20-second gap before deep-bass forest of “Garden” comes in almost as an afterthought perusing the long-forgotten swing of lust and anarchy laid low by the tides of change.