Valley Queen - Supergiant

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2018-07-13
Valley Queen - Supergiant
Valley Queen - Supergiant

This is a great record that melts candle-dripped melodies onto the rough edges of guitar-fired rock ‘n’ roll vinyl grooves.          

Natalie Carol has an amazing voice. It’s tough; it’s sweet; and then it’s luxurious carpet thick, while the band wood burns its sympathy into a smoky oaken frame. Shawn Morones’ guitar bends and echoes the melodic intensity of the vocals.

Just listen to the second song (and title cut) “Supergiant.” There’s a fuzz guitar riff and continued solo that’s anthemic, while the vocals push the song to the stars, with brief moments to refuel, with a heart-exploding pulse.

Now, I certainly hope the band were trying to rekindle a bit of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s fire with “Chasing the Muse.” To be fair, the tune veers from “Cowgirl in the Sand,” but the passion is in total sympathy with that 70’s measured thick and heavy beauty. Natalie Carol’s vocals are quite incredible as they roam freely through the melody. The guitar solo simply smokes with fire.

As I said, this is melodic rock music with rough edges that are, thankfully, still painfully sharp.

And the vocals really do explode in the (almost) folk of “Ride,” as impossibly high and extended notes beg for the freedom to “create and destroy.” And then the guitar punctuates the plea. “Gems and Rubies” continues the (almost) folky vibe with quiet band backing and, again, vocals that soar with beautifully odd and deep inflection. This one has an absolutely gorgeous and very naked vocal. This tune, like the later “Two of Cups” and the final cut “Highway Pearls,” has a slight Eastern flavor.

Just be warned: The melodies often bend in obtuse and rather unpredictable tangents, and only through the shear willpower of Natalie Carol’s vocals are the weird musical welds made beautifully fluid. Of course, the band, Neil Wogensen (bass), Mike DeLuccia (drums), and the before-mentioned Shawn Morones (guitar), are the steady sympathetic frame, in various degrees of volume, on which this Supergiant can burn. And this band does burn.

“Boiling Water” is full on band sound that rumbles and rocks. The same is true for the jangly “Bedroom,” which deserves to be immensely popular. My friend, Kilda Defnut, says this sounds like Fleetwood Mac, if they made a record without the pressure of commercial concerns and Christine McVie wrote most of the tunes. I don’t know because I lost interest after Bare Trees, but she is probably right.

But truly, I needed this record. You see, in my town of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, we have our own version of that iconic Lulubelle III cow from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother cover. It’s a great big fiberglass dairy cow in front of our famous Cedar Crest Ice Cream Company.  

But then, while I enjoyed my single scoop Daily Grind waffle cone (coffee flavored ice cream with a caramel ribbon and chocolate covered expresso pieces) some piped radio played “Fakin’ It” by Simon and Garfunkel and Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Of course, I had to ask two summer college women employees if they knew the songs. They simply shook their heads; and then, when asked, confessed with a shrug that they collectively had never heard of Bob Dylan, Simon, or for that matter, a Garfunkel.

I could laugh. I mean, it’s not that big of a deal. But, truly, these songs are a pretty big part of my take on the soul of our culture. So then, as The Cure sang, “I walked away alone/With nothing left/But faith.”

Young people pounding on the doors of the sacred citadel’s perception is always important.

I needed the very first song on this record, “Silver Tongue,” which is a bit of disheveled and lurching rock that has a pulse rate that flares into some red warning zone. But really, this first tune is only a prelude, like a pack of eight Crayola crayons, while the rest of the record unfolds, with technicolor textures, into one of those jumbo-sized sixty-four Crayola boxes. Suddenly, there are colors within colors within colors. This is the type of record that conjures some sort of faith.

This band knows Dylan; they know Simon, and they even know a Garfunkel. They probably like ice cream. Sure, they know all the old stuff well enough to quote the very best and then stamp their own personal take on the rough edges of rock, the rough edges of life, with melodic wax that drips on the reality of all the Stones that Roll, too many Watchtowers, and the tough lyric, like the moral of some Nathaniel Hawthorne story, that gets beyond just “fakin’ it.” This is a really nice rock ‘n’ roll record that doesn’t pull emotional punches, and as Bob Dylan once sang, it is “knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s doors.”

 

 

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