Pastoral pummel. Listening to Heron Oblivion's album feels like sitting in a lovely meadow in the shadow of a dam that's gonna heave-ho’ any minute. Members of this new San Francisco combo have put in time in both raging and relatively tranquil psychedelic sound units—this is the premise and the synergy behind this very unique and special new album.
On the West Coast side, Ethan Miller and Noel Von Harmonson were together in Comets on Fire, who spent a large chunk of the mid-2000s playing unbridled, blistering rock worldwide, fueled by a steady diet of amphetaminized Crazy Horse, High Rise, MC5, Chrome, and Fushitsusha. Noel did time afterwards with Sic Alps and Six Organs of Admittance, while Miller settled into Howlin' Rain and Feral Ohms. Charlie Saufley resided at the psychedelic pop fringes with his band Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound (kindred spirits to Comets to be sure). He was joined in California by Meg Baird, a leading light in the modern psych-folk canon thanks to her work in Philadelphia’s Espers and as a solo artist (she is also the original drummer for Philly post-hardcore degenerates Watery Love).
Three shades of light run through Heron Oblivion: Baird's rich, beautiful vocal approach, the locked-horns bass and drums of her and Miller's streamlined-but-motorik rhythm section, and a twin guitar tapestry that both aligns with the dreaminess of the songs and crackles out of containment to froth over the rim, punctuating Opal/Fairport moves with dramatic, explosive fuzz solos. Meg's gorgeous singing resides within an untouchable domain and never struggles, nor has to combat the avalanche of guitars that ebb and flow.
The group first properly gigged in April of 2014 opening for War On Drugs. Most recently they toured the West Coast with Kurt Vile and Cass McCombs. Heron Oblivion was recorded at The Mansion in San Francisco by Eric Bauer.
-Brian Turner/Music Director WFMU Jersey City NJ