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Music Review: Your Highness Electric- The Grand Hooded Phantom

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For godsakes, you boys of Your Highness Electric. Where the hell have you been all my life? After eons of holding out in vain for smart, groovy riff-rock like yours, praying that someone someday would hit upon just the right formula, I was about ready to give up hope. (One can only heap so many expectations on Clutch, after all.)

It’s been hard, living without you. I mean, sure, there are others who came close enough to tide me over temporarily. Late-model Fu Manchu was a reasonable but ultimately hollow alternative. Puny Human had me convinced for awhile that I’d found my soulmate, but after the honeymoon period was over, I realized they lacked the psychedelic element I so dearly crave. When I met Wolfmother, I nearly threw The Party of the Universe to celebrate that my search had, at long last, come to an end… but they betrayed me by only meeting my needs half of the time.

But you, Your Highness Electric – you and this Grand Hooded Phantom of yours are the real thing. We have a real connection; I can feel it. Don’t deny it. You wax poetic about mustaches and pestilence, twisting in and out of a guitar-laden madness that makes me simultaneously compelled to trip balls and dance like an unbathed, violently happy flower child. Maybe “weed child” is more appropriate. Whatever. You regale me with fluid basslines and not-so-subtly sanded-down vocals. You berate me for thinking I’d never find you with rhythms that seep into my unconsciousness to wrest me from slumber. And where most bands fail miserably taking their name from their idols’ lyrics, your nod to Jon & Vangelis’ “Deborah”- that’s right, don’t think I didn’t notice – is upheld by your formidable songwriting ability, coming off as a true homage rather than tawdry coattail-riding.

Straight up, dudes, you’ve got a winning album here. Allow me to congratulate you on your debut being a first album to end all first albums. Let me share with you some of what I found to be high points: on “Army Green” alone, you do a better minimalist, blue-eyed-blues rock than Jack Black could piece together from all his moments of supposed genius. “Apocalypse Town” is a loose and lazy jam with smoothly sliding overtones that never slip into the realm of sloppy. “Bob, Sugar, Sex, Magic” screams “We are rock incarnate. Accept us into your lives and you will be greatly rewarded.” “Carnal Knowledge” insinuates the “If They Mated”-style offspring of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Robin Trower, and makes me weep tears of gladness that someone has faithfully carried forth their combined influence. Overall, the collection of songs is consistent without being boring; it’s complex and interesting without being overwhelming or frenetic.

If you’re curious what I’d do differently, though – which I can’t imagine you wouldn’t be – cut out the dead weight. You’ve got a couple tracks on here that, if removed, would’ve made this a more compact, thoroughly beefy album. As it is, this sucker’s long, and your audience’s attention span? The opposite of long. Far be it from me to tell you which songs are the weakest… but they’re “Know Gods, Know Masters” (too plodding – ruins the pace of the album) and “Ain’t No Not” (cool intro, but you’d do better to snag the listener right off the bat by jumping straight into the commanding opening riff of “Our Albatrosses”).

Other than that, though, you’ve made me a very happy girl. You’re just the band I’ve been waiting for. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.

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