Transcendental Road Blues
Saustex Media, 2012
Review by Kent Manthie
Besides my receiving a rarity – an EP of sorts on good old fashioned vinyl – from Austin, TX-based Churchwood I received at the same time, another 7-inch vinyl EP (four songs) from another Texas band, Chief Fuzzer. This one is entitled Transcendental Road Blues. It’s also being released from Austin’s great indie label: Saustex Media. Just as with the Churchwood 7-incher – Just the Two of Us – Chief Fuzzer’s 7-inch EP contains a card inside the package with the URL to go to and a code one puts in that allows one to download the entire 5-song EP onto one’s PC.
This one’s got more of a rock spine to it, as opposed to the bluesy, psychobilly, raw steely emotion. The first two tracks are the main ones that are listed on the back of the vinyl EP: “500 Lb. Badass” and “Bad She Gone Voodoo”. But there are also three other great tracks on here: “Fuzzer Theme”, the title track (“Transcendental Road Blues”) and one called “Whight”. After giving it a couple listens, I’d have to say that the title track is the most rockin’ track. It’s got a somewhat slowed-down tempo, but still a grinding, psychedelic-tinged edge to it. The guitars both chug-chug-chug along as well as, in certain points, climb to higher degrees of altitude, soaring, swinging and then veering off and changing course, finally coming back to its rhythmic duties. At 5:10, it’s the longest cut on the album, but, being so great a song, the time doesn’t really matter, as it just flies by and leaves the listener wanting more, more, MORE! The final cut, “Whight” is a good place to end on as well as the perfect follow-up for the just mentioned title track. It has a little bit of a Black Sabbath vibe to it – a slowed, heavy metal dirge. But they stay consistent throughout and don’t get caught up in a fever pitch, so don’t take the “heavy metal” thing too literally.
Cody Richardson, who both sings and plays guitar, does an excellent job on the axe. He may not have the most operatic voice in the world – but hey, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, right? He really shines, though, on the guitar and the undertones he lays down as well as the solo piercings and crying sure do shine. Being a trio, Chief Fuzzer rely on just Cody to get the job done on guitar and he comes through with flying colors. But as far as the other two – the rhythm section, you certainly can’t complain – drummer Paul Adams plays a mean set of skins, keeping time with a bombastic, rock-oriented (as opposed to the all-over-the-place jazz styles), seemingly simple fashion but when you see that he’s got to be the anchor then you appreciate his edgy, not flashy way of keeping things glued together. Bassist Shane Herring is also a great leg of this three-legged stool – he complements Cody’s more simmering, hot & spicy solos, by keeping things grounded and when Cody’s just trying to keep a riff flowing, when he’s singing, for example, then Shane is there as a double-threat, a deeper, thundering bass to accompany the taxiing guitar.
You’re going to really want to check this out – whether or not you’re a fan of Texas-style “psychobilly”, psychedelic-tinged rockabilly, or fire & brimstone, liquor-fueled rants that can seem over the top, but have a hell of a fun time doing it, you’ll see that Chief Fuzzer transcends (no pun intended) all those stereotypes, while still managing to stay in the same realm somehow. Listening to Transcendental Road Blues, it’s easy to hear how these guys would be welcomed wherever a crowd that wants to rock is – whether it’s at the Continental Club in Austin, First Avenue in Minneapolis, Café Metro in Chicago or CBGB/OMFUG in NYC, Chief Fuzzer will fit in anywhere. –KM