The music business is a bit like politics, in that it is incestuous and often works on the basis of “it’s who you know not…” etc. Take the example of Weathermaker Music, for example: until now, every release issued by the label has had a direct link to Clutch (the company, of course, was established in 2008 by the band and manager Jack Flanagan with the express intention of being a vehicle for both the group’s own releases and those of various side projects, such as The Bakerton Group) – the first two signings, The Company Band and The Mob, both included what their website describes as “Weathermaker Music principals”, while last year’s recruits Deep Swell also featured Clutch guitarist Tim Sult. So, despite hailing from the same part of the world (the US state of Maryland), Lionize herald something of a landmark for the label, being the first independent act to enrol on the WM roster…
Of course, it’s hard to escape the clutches (sic) of their bosses entirely, as drummer Jean-Paul Gaster also handled co-production on this, Lionize’s fifth album.. but, it is there that all comparisons end, as both the band and the record are a completely different beast all together…
Right from the driving, swirling intro Hammond organ of, well, ‘Intro’, through the breathless heavy bluesiness of ‘Breather’ and ‘Evolve’ to the hard-hitting romp ‘n’stomp of ‘Electric Reckoning and ‘Amazing Science Facts’ and the loquacious swagger of closer ‘Sea Of Tranquility’, it is clear that this quartet draw on a rich well of influences, from early Deep Purple through fellow suvern brothers such as The Black Crowes to Euro prog giants like Focus via funk, soul and reggae as purveyed by the likes Funkadelic and Parliament.
It’s a heady mix which sounds like a surefire car crash… but, dammit, it works – and on so many levels, to produce an elegant, hard-hitting and well-rounded album which also is a compulsive and hypnotic listen. The rock solid drumming of Mel Randolph’s exemplary drumming and the funkiness of Henry Upton’s fuzzed-out bass drive each of the 11 tracks with the unstoppable power of a runaway railroad engine (well, these guys are from the deep south of the USofA, so you’ll forgive us the occasional Americanism, right?), allowing Nate Bergman to weave guitar lines that flow between the blues and psychedelia with graceful ease and to hard-hitting effect.
Yes, it’s a very ‘retro’ sounding album – and that is very much a bad word in many critical (and fan) circles: but, Lionize manage to bring it to life in a way which a very few bands – and I’m thinking specifically of The Answer and Rival Sons in this regard – have managed to achieve, to produce a rewarding album that will draw the listener back into its grooves time and again.
Intro / Breather / Evolve / Electric Reckoning / Jetpack Soundtrack / Replaced By Machines / Reality Check / Lazarus Style / Amazing Science Facts / Skynet / Sea Of Tranquility
Recommended listening: ‘Electric Reckoning’
‘Jetpack Soundtrack’ is out now via Weathermaker Music.