There is some contention about what subgenre of rock Nashville native rockers All Them Witches would fall under.
While some would describe the group, which released its fourth studio album in February, as a bluesy-psychedelic rock fusion, others broadly classify it as just basic indie stoner grooves.
Both opinions are true, but this is so much better than that implies.
It is a sound that should come as familiar, that sort of neo-psychedelic yet Southern and old-school country-tinged rock many local bands employ these days, where the grooviness – the kind inherent in both blues and jam bands – is on display in full force.
There are so many times the guitars take you suddenly and soar, so many moments on Sleeping Through The War where you just can’t help but lose focus on everything else, except for the music.
Hell, I did that exact thing several times while writing this review. One of the things that I love most is the way each song, no matter what level it starts at, always seems to kick it up a notch.
And it all happens at different points, so it never feels repetitive.If that sounds frantic, it’s actually a pretty mellow album. It helps that more than half of the songs on the album are longer than 6 minutes in runtime, so it really gives everything a chance to breathe.
The whole thing would not be as impressive if not for almost hallucinatory guitar playing by Ben McLeod and group founder, bassist Charles Michael Parks Jr.
A good example of the band’s style can be found on the song “Cowboy Kirk,” which starts with a steady rhythm before layering in a repeated riff and, finally, Parks starts crooning.
The track comes together nicely, but it’s about a minute-and-a-half into the song before the riff changes into something a little more bouncy and fun.
Other songs display the group’s range of influences, particularly on “Internet,” the nearly 10-minute epic that closes out the album. The song displays its Southern blues influences most heavily, perhaps because it is the song that most prominently displays the piano and organ work of Allan Van Cleave, and a harmonica solo. The song kind of winds the album down slowly, fading down until all that’s left is a ripple of sound that wanes.
I will say I usually paid more attention to the music itself over the lyrics, at least partially because I can’t always make out what Parks is saying.
The main exception is on “Internet,” on which Parks wearily talks about the way our lives are played out on the digital landscape.
“If you’re asking me, I got one thing to say/If I can’t live here, I guess I’ll go live on the internet,” he sings, with a note of resignation.
This is a great album to have on in the background. You can let the music wash over you without being an active participant. But the deeper you go, the more rewarding it is.