The Highest Order - Still Holding - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Highest Order - Still Holding

by Mark Steele Rating:9 Release Date:2016-08-12

Following their debut album If It's Real, Toronto's psych country rockers The Highest Order, with the line-up of Simone Schmidt - Guitar/Vocals, Paul Mortimer - Guitar/Vocals, Kyle Porter - Bass, and Simone TB - Drums. Aiming to grab our minds to travel again on the cosmic dust filled spaceways, they deliver to us 9-tracks of cosmic tunage entitled Still Holding.

Heading off at dawn we find smooth and warm guitars and drums 'Hurry Down' keeping it nice and easy shuffling 70's style, Simone's phrasing here and throughout the album has a more mellow Johnny Cash quality to it. She certainly glides over the guitars and bass parts with ease. The backing vocals have a sweetness to them that gives a sugar high.

Creeping steady muted guitar, followed arpeggios and humming note breaks into a paceful motorik beat on 'Hardball', showing nice phased guitars, simple bass and acid rock vigour leaning somewhere between Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. The vocals that enter 'Slip Away' soaks you in sunshine warmth with a golden sunny mid-tempo groove, incorporating three-part harmonies, a friendly groove, a bit of The Eagles found on here. Talking of feathered folk, The Byrds influence can be noted within the jangly speediness of  I'd Ask You To Stay', then it really lifts off into a galactic expanse for an excillerating Pink Floyd-ian moment, with halftime swing, feedback surfing tones.

The crisp and confident tightness on 'Keep A Window Open', brings a welcome Fleetwood Mac/Creedence Clearwater Revival vibe due to fuzzy guitar warmth akin to the latter's 'Rolling On A River'. Simones vocals are such sweet molasses in a Stevie Nicks vain. Around 3 and a half minutes, the cosmic rays enter in to provide a muddy fuzz guitar solo that you just have to sit back and meditate on.

A further transcendence emerges, a layered reverbed murky psych pop backdrop with 'Warm Front', fading with smooth overdriven lines, moving into a space folk groove 'Somewhere Out Of The Way' sees Paul's vocals lead you to sit back and ride the cosmic waves, well synchronised instrumental phrasing. A trip through a cosmic concourse contained by woody bass, wavering  guitars like chiming clocks,'Take Off' carries you over to the albums finale, 'Stare Down The Barrel Of Today' a sultry Simone hypnotises you over playful mellow wah lines, weaving pedal steel phrases steady backbeat. It gracefully takes you into the dusky horizon.

What really makes you smile about Still Holding, is that The Highest Order have somehow enlivened country rock music by inventively bringing us back to its late 1960s/early 1970s roots. They are a refreshing oasis, within what was becoming a dry and dusty landscape.

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