Keith Gibbs: Guitars, Vox
Rick Ferrante: Drums, Percussion
Jason Casanova: Bass, Paperwork
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios, Allston, MA.
Additional Mad Oak recording by J. Saliba.
Leads and additional vocals on “Took Me Away” and “Whatcha’ Gonna Do” recorded by Be Hussey at Comp-ny in Burbank, CA.
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs in Ann Arbor, MI.
Design and Layout by Joey Toscano.
Cover photography: Nathaniel Malmrose, Susan Malmrose, Dillon Hall.
Live band shots courtesy of Mariana Oz at Hellfire Red, Karen at Rockframe, Phil Reyes at Co)))re, Alric Kazor, and Yvonne Foronda.
The 3rd release on Smallstone. LA`s finest Stoner Rock band is back with a great record! 12 great Stoner Rock songs with a lot of downtuned guitars and a lot of fuzz (with some influences from the mighty Kyuss and older 70s stuff like Led Zeppelin) you can find on "III" and so far it is the best and most energic output from that 3 piece. Most problem with all that Stoner Rock releases is the fact, that real cool melodies on the vocal sides are missing. But Sasquatch are different! They have the power and class of the big bands (Dozer, Unida, Fu Manchu), especially on the vocal side (Keith Gibbs)! The opener GET OUT OF HERE shows some old Soundgarden (Loud Love) dynamics with some Unida riffing. Slow, dark and heavy! The following TOOK ME AWAY is a blast too! Rough vocals and great melodies...I remember the mighty years of Stoner Rock 1998-2001! PULL ME UNDER is another highlight! Very slow with a fat chorus and a kick ass groove! Again the slow burning vocals from Keith will went directly in your head - awesome! QUEEN, another unique song, is Doom Metal with some classic Heavy Metal passages. Infectious melodies by the way. COMPLICATED is a more "mainstream" song; a song who can get into the heavy roatation of some radio stations and hopefully make that band bigger! 12 varied songs full of power! "III" is a great Stoner Rock output, maybe one of the most important Stoner CDs in the last month! GET IT!
I’ve been a Sasquatch supporter since day one. My first encounter with the band was some demo tracks on mp3.com, before they became the Smallstone heavyweights they are now. “Knuckle Down,” gave me a sonic mental bonghit back when it was just a demo, and I still remember the elation of finding the S/T debut at a Pittsburgh record shop right when it came out. Score!
While sometimes a slouch at reviewing, I’m a finagler that still gets the goods, and I bought II when it was released, but never unleashed my pen upon it. A damn shame as a recent play through reveals a tighter, tougher set of tunes, even if the S/T has such a special place in my heart, and still received the most plays over time. The trio of Keith Gibbs (vocals/guitar), Clayton Charles (bass), and Rick Ferrante (drums) are one of those teams you can always count on. They’re the rock n’ roll opposite of the Pittsburgh Pirates, dependable, solid, and always on their game.
I grabbed III a few months after it came out. It almost slipped right under my radar, but I managed to make it to the party just a few hours late, and the food was still hot n’ steamy, and the beer sporting that charming, slightly warmed over froth that ignites the taste buds for that next slice of pizza. III is the usual Sasquatch crusher, running on a classy “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” engine that’s been tuned and tightened even further; it’s hard to pick a favorite with these guys as they’re so consistent, but I think this is the one.
You can tell these guys know each other inside and out at this point. Keith lays down riff after riff of pure power as he sings his heart out with that one of a kind smoky, soulful croon, while Clayton and Rick make sure each tune stays in the pocket. They continue to dabble with light psychedelic touches added to some of the slower, more intricate tracks, adding vintage guitar solos, and feverish percussive bursts as necessary. It’s class from the first note to the last, and Keith is knocking out some highly memorable choruses here. I love the man’s voice, and he’s crafted a serious set of hooks this time around.
Overanalyzing III is pointless, but in the end I’m sure I will, cause that’s what I do! But the idea here is simple…this is classic rock that touches on everything from Kyuss to “Batmotorfinger” era Soundgarden to 70s heroes like Mountain and Sabbath. The feel is there and the delivery is on point. Opener, “Get Out of Here” lays down a power chord salvo that’s sure to get you going, dropping solos as needed, and hulking it’s shambling form directly into the savage soul rock of “Took Me Away.” They hit the groove in all of the right places, making all of the adjectives I could muster up null and void in the process. How can I describe great rock n’ roll music, as anything other than great rock n’ roll music?
“Complicated” could be a radio smash. It has that early QOTSA feel but with a meatier, bluesy vibe, instead of the arid desert stomp of Homme and co. Light touches of spaced-out riffing permeate the verses, the chorus is almost too catchy for its own good, and there’s a real fiery guitar lead right before the curtain closes with the rhythm work adding all the proper accoutrements. It’s with “Pull Me Under,” that the band really tears at my writhing guts. Easily a favorite on the album (and an all-time favorite Sasquatch tune in general), Keith wrangles with a lightly, FX enhanced riff oozing with void, and psychedelia, as a lush bass line wraps itself around the insistent beats, and watery vocals. Everything moves along with intent and purpose, building up to an especially bombastic chorus that drops about two tons of riff-concrete on your ass. This tune is thicker than my saggin’ gut after a generous Christmas feast. As usual, Keith strangles a beautiful solo out of that guitar right after the second chorus, and it manages to keep on going until the track’s bitter end, with Rick showing off those quick sticks, and pronounced chops that made him Sasquatch’s secret weapon since the early days.
Following up with one of their heaviest tunes ever (although track #9 “Queen” is arguably a might heavier), “Soul Shaker,” will indeed live up to its title by squeezing the very soul outta your throat with riff after riff of buzzsawin’ lumberyard rock that’s heavier than the combined mass weight of about 35 elephants. The riffs roll hard, breaking off into silky smooth lead snippets surrounded by a particularly sternum shattering rhythm section, building a head of steam into a hugely memorable chorus full of throbbing drums, restrained melody, and Keith really giving those vocal chords a good workout. The solo only ramps up the action another notch, topping things off to perfection. Peeling back the oppressive girth of “Soul Shaker,” the Kyussian “Walkin’ Shoes,” and the acoustic-tinged “New Disguise,” open the album up a bit. “Walkin’ Shoes,” relishes the boogie aspects of Welcome to Sky Valley, and “New Disguise,” has a mechanical, lockstep clanging to the chorus that almost sounds like some kind of stoner/classic rock themed industrial music, with the leads and acoustic guitars blending together thereafter, recalling the last time I was parched in the desert and had a difficult time finding a reliable oasis.
“Queen” comes rumbling in next, and it’ll hit you with an uppercut before you even had a chance to see the jab. It ties “Soul Shaker” for the honor of being the heaviest, mothertruckin’ track on the record, sounding like Pepper-era COC getting run over by a pack of slowly converging steamrollers. Keith winds this one out with another squealing, fuzz-busting solo that mingles with a battering set of drum patterns, and a bass line that holds everything in step, clearing the path for another heavy set of grooves contained in “Leave It Up to You,” a desert-burnt, Sabbath barnburner with lots of added effects, and swirling instrumentation (a slinky, fuzzed out bass line, and an LSD enhanced guitar solo round this one out nicely, along with the superb vocal hooks). Again, they are kind of reminding me of COC trading booze exclusively for bud.
The closing threesome really puts things in perspective for me, offering up 3 killers, two of which are also among my favorite Sasquatch tunes ever. “Bare my Soul,” grooves harder than anything these boys have done. Period. End of sentence. Those psyched-out guitar licks sear the back of my neck like sonic sunburn, coiling around the steady beat of my heart with warm low-end, and masterful time keeping. The vocals grip me, putting Keith’s own unique spin on universal relationship troubles, exploding with a virile, emotive rasp as the band set the riffs, solos, and rhythms on overdrive for the second half of the tune. It’s one of those epically heavy moments where the entire band clamps down with bear-trap strength on a pummeling, Sabbath-y riff, laying it all on the line in the process. You can’t help but nod your head like some drugged-out follower of an insane death cult. If Keith told me to take the some 20-foot drop off my porch headfirst in this song, I’d gladly oblige him banging my head along to the sheer groove of this song all the way down. And then “No More Time,” is a lead-enriched, riffed-out, souped-up, uptempo son of a bitch that hits me the same way the catchy, quick reflex boogie “Boss Hog,” did on the S/T. You can definitely catch me mouthing the lyrics to this one, when I should be waiting on customers at work! Closer, “Burning Bridges” ends things just right with plenty of desert-baked guitar thunder, and tumbleweeds blowing over the rhythm section, as it constructs a catchy chorus, sweaty riffs, the occasional psychedelic touch, and furious leads/solos into a shrine of cacti and cow skulls that stretches so far upward it reaches the sky.
III rules, and delivers everything I expect from Sasquatch with just a little bit more fine-tuning injected into the songwriting. Not a snoozer in the bunch, and I daresay this is their finest outing to date. For lovers of good ol’ fashioned rock I don’t think it gets much better than these guys. This is one of the most consistent rock bands to ever grace the face of the Earth, and anyone who pines for the heyday of 70s, 80s, and 90s heavy, classic rock can do no wrong by picking up III. This is a boogie-drenched masterpiece, so please don’t perform the injustice of taking it for granted, and not grabbing one up for yourself! If you’ve been missing out on the band thus far, what are you waiting for?! You’ve now got 3 great albums to buy!
- Jay Snyder
With every new album, Los Angeles' power trio SASQUATCH are getting better. Well, that phrase sounds flat and empty, but it's indeed the case. At least, for my taste. This does not mean, however, that I think that the band had a bad start with their first two albums. Since the beginning it was obvious that they have the decisive potential to perform powerful riff-driven heavy rock which will be remembered for a longer period. Of course here, nothing new will be invented, but that doesn't matter as long as the tracks are packed with solid hooklines and crunchy riffs, and, boy, are SASQUATCH good at it! Their third record aptly named 'III' is a hard rocking, fuzzed-out titan which contains some of their best tracks and shows quite clearly that SASQUATCH has grown together into a strong unit over the last nine years. It is a consistent, powerful album that hits really hard at gut level.
All the songs share a menacing, irreverent and molten-lava quality that makes this their most consistent and memorable album. From the first song to the last, there's a heavy and pulsing purity of intention that keeps all the songs flowing together seamlessly. One of my faves is 'Pull Me Under', which somehow sounds as if The Obsessed and early Soundgarden have merged. Despite my comparison SASQUATCH have their own identity, which is primarily due to Keith Gibbs' excellent voice that is also very dynamic and holds your attention throughout. 'New Disguise' is based on bluesy acoustic guitars and brings back memories of Led Zeppelin that otherwise play a not to be underestimated role in most of the twelve songs on 'III'. But, like most bands that are on the Small Stone Records roster, SASQUATCH do not focus on completely reviving the 1970's even if it's their primary basis for resource and influence in their work.
The album comes together to take on a timeless quality which is present in the best rock and roll and Benny Grotto's excellent production underscores this fact. It is also nice to see that SASQUATCH have invited Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet, ex-The Atomic Bitchwax), but also without his guest contributions it would be a great album. 'III' offers a hefty dose of super heavy bone crunching blues-drenched heavy rock, and everyone who likes the previous releases will love the new one. But even for those, who like bands such as Soundgarden or Led Zeppelin, you should give SASQUATCH a chance, because they really do deserve it. And if you're all about the riffs, dear reader, if you love the classic rock guitar gods, then you'll get a huge kick out of 'III'. Buy it and you won't regret this surely.
Phat-ass ballsy riffs. Huge! This is the kind of thing that makes rock and roll as heavy as metal while still retaining its rock spirit. Sasquatch's "III" is one of the latest issuings from Detroit stoner rock Mecca, Small Stone Recordings. It's simultaneously raw and capable, and the guitar sounds alone are enough to whip your head around 360 degrees. Seriously, you could flog a motherfucker with these. Add on top of that appropriately swampy production (in a good, deliberate way - it goes with the genre) and potent vocals, and you've got a ponderous, heavy punch in the gut kaboom of stoner rock HEAVY!
- Upchuck Undergrind
Now, if the mythical Bigfoot, or Sasquatch with whom this band shares its name were to listen to music you can bet your ass that the big hairy bastard would kick back with a few beers and listen to big hairy bastards like Sasquatch!!!
Now, many people would say that rock and roll isn't big or clever, and there are an equal number of people that would claim that that is exactly what makes it so fucking awesome in the first place!!! The finest rock and roll bands have made careers of keeping it simple and not messing with a winning formula…AC/DC, Motorhead, the Stones…etc. If they have ever tried to mess with the formula they've invariably come unstuck and produced a turd pile bigger than old Bigfoot would be capable of!!! Sasquatch understand that to be effective rock and roll needs to be simple, powerful, fundamental and primal and so take the fuzzy grooves of stoner and mix it all up with a greasy 70's blues vibe that aims straight for the heart and the crotch.
Opening track "Get Out Of Here" blasts along with its foot on the floor while follow up track "Took Me Away" hits a gorgeous lazy groove that would have had a million American teenagers reaching for the reefer in their bedrooms 35 years ago. "Pull Me Under" is a mammoth slow burning semi ballad…I say semi as it's too damn heavy to go all the way but broods in the finest tradition of bands such as Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Each track here is a lesson in concise riffs, simple yet effective structures and how a rock band should just get to the fucking point!!! To describe Sasquatch as simplistic is by no means to do them a disservice, the three guys that make this beautiful noise, Keith Gibbs on guitar and vocals, Rick Ferrante on drums and Jason Casanova on bass each play out of their skins. Ferrante lays down a lazy but tight groove that rolls right along with the dirty and low bass lines. Gibbs' voice is a soulful yet earthy croon that brings to mind Dave Wyndorf with maybe a touch of Zakk Wylde and he wrenches the blues out of his guitar with more than a tip of the hat to Billy Gibbons. Anyone can stick a bunch of riffs together and call it a song but it takes some real skill and no little amount or heart and soul to pare it back to the essentials and write quality, unfussy kick ass rock and roll in the way that Sasquatch do. Look at "New Disguise" for example which breaks out the acoustics and rides along on a two note riff that remains compelling throughout.
Led Zeppelin got away with numbering their first three albums…on the strength of this album it's not impossible to think that Sasquatch could be on their way to earning the right to leaving their name and title off the next album. Yet another top quality release from Small Stone…buy it, download it, steal it but get your hands on it!!!
I made a vow several months ago to only review bands who were named after things that were featured on Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, the cult television show of a bygone age.
With cult band Retro Mustachioed Copper Who Saw Lights In The Sky apparently being on indefinite hiatus, my vow, admittedly made after trawling trashy TV channels and drinking way too much coffee, seemed to be doomed to failure. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move in the pile of bad discs that had landed in our mail box. I couldn't be sure what it was, but I had to investigate....
I know little of Sasquatch the band. DNA found in six massive footprints left near a pile of beer cans and broken drumsticks claims to have traces of Keith Gibbs (guitar/vocals), Rick Ferrante (drums) and Jason Casanova (bass). This is the third album from the LA power trio (coming four years after the second album and its awesome Planet Of The Apes inspired art) and, when I cautiously placed the disc into my stereo, the heavy as fuck, fuzzy classic rock that spewed out nearly blew me away. 'Get Out Of Here', the opening track, proved that this band are, unlike the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, fur real.
I'm guessing that there have been many comparisons between the voices of Keith Gibbs and Chris Cornell but, with the latter seemingly happy to make godawful solo albums, Keith wins by TKO. But yes, you will be reminded of Cornell and Soundgarden at their finest. Call it stoner rock, call it swampy (as Boggy Creek) Southern rock, call it what you will, but if you dig the heavy-duty grooves of Corrosion Of Conformity ('Deliverance/Wiseblood' era), Kyuss and Monster Magnet (check out the track 'New Disguise') then you have a new favourite band. 'Queen' sounds like Gibbs has borrowed Tony Iommi's fingertips with its huge Sabbath-inspired riff. When he's not giving Cornell a lesson in how to rock, Gibbs throws a vocal bone out to Down-era Anselmo.
One album, three men, a dozen dirty rock tunes; this record is highly recommended to all ass-kicking cryptozoologists out there.
- Gaz E
First impressions are important, but sometimes misleading. I got the new and 3rd album from Sasquatch at the same time as a bunch of other stuff. Played it once or twice, liked it OK and then forgot all about it. While sorting through a bunch of crap on my desk I rediscovered this thing and decided to give it another spin. Then another one right after that. Woke up the next day and a bunch of the songs were playing in my head. Damn, this thing rocks! Better late than never. Actually, I’m not really late at all since this was an advance copy and the thing comes out officially on April 13.
Sasquatch hail from Los Angeles and play 70’s style acid rock mixed with retro 90’s metal like COC, Soundgarden, Kyuss and Monster Magnet. It makes sense that they are on Small Stone Records since they have much in common with bands like Roadsaw, House Of Broken Promises, The Glasspack, etc. Chances are if you like any of these bands then you already have the first 2 Sasquatch albums and are stoked for the new one. You should be because it sounds great.
For a 3 piece, these guys have a huge sound. Keith Gibbs comes up with guitar riffs that sound like Black Sabbath with Jimi Hendrix soloing over them. He also sings in a rough but melodic voice. Rick Ferrante lays down a solid beat with Jason Casanova on bass (and paperwork!) to form a tight but loose rhythm section. Most of the songs on III are around 5 minutes and the whole album is really strong. Fast ones like “Get Out Of Here” and “No More Time” are real fist shakers. In a just world a sea of longhairs would bang their heads in obedience to the driving boogie. Slower ones like “Queen” and “Bare My Soul” will have you crossing the Bridge Of Highs in style.
Not much left to say other than pick this muther up and blast it loud n proud!
For a minute there, stoner rock fans were worried that they'd caught the last glimpse of Sasquatch -- da band, not the big-footed one -- as the years since their excellent second album mounted beyond three, but it turns out the L.A. trio was simply breaking in a new bass player (ex-Tummler man Jason Casanova) and stocking up their riff box in preparation of this third sighting arriving in early 2010. Well then, as the saying goes, patience truly is a virtue, because the end result may just qualify as the band's best record yet. Plugging in right where they left off before, it's no exaggeration to say that Sasquatch conjure previously unknown thresholds of fuzz-distortion out of their amps while laying down the earth-rumbling foundation for power chord bonanzas like "Get Out of Here," "Pull Me Under," and "Leave It Up to You." And when he isn't wringing out seemingly infinitely sustaining power chords and exciting leads out of his Gibson Les Paul (watch his deft fingers rescue "Walking Shoes" from stoner blues mediocrity), leader Keith Gibbs once again proves his mettle as both vocalist (hear him go almost Chris Cornell on the impossibly heavy doom grind "Queen") and chorus architect -- a luxury very few stoner rock bands possess. III isn't without imperfections of course: "Soulshaker" and "Bare My Soul" both trundle along somewhat inconspicuously, and the part-acoustic "New Disguise" sounds a little too familiar to experienced stoner rock ears. But not even these can dent the album's overall high quality and consistency, making it three stellar efforts out of three for Sasquatch, and boosting their reputation as one of the last true-blue stoner rock bands that still matter.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
It’s been a long wait for III, the (you called it) third album from L.A. power trio Sasquatch. The band may have taken its time crafting this particular opus, but rest assured it’s worth the thumb-twiddling. Frontguy Keith Gibbs is in rare form, laying down the licks like a hybrid of every good heavy rock guitarist you can think of and singing with grizzled soul. There’s more here than just the sensual pleasure of the sounds, though. The threesome has always stood apart from the hordes of 70s rock revivalists because Gibbs writes actual songs, with melodies and arrangements, rather than just string a couple of power chords and a riff together. III collects a bunch of strong tunes that’ll bring out the air guitarist and head nodder/banger in anyone – check Bare My Soul, Complicated and the groovy, partially acoustic New Disguise for some particularly primo laying down of the rock & roll law. With Pull Me Under, the band even pulls Soundgarden out of its mothballs before the real band could do it. Hard rock, stoner rock, heavy music – whatever the fuck you call it, Sasquatch has it down, my friend.
- Michael Toland
In the pantheon of rock lyrics, there are few lines as stump dumb yet undeniably iconic as "You want it, you got it, baby." Sure, a vintage David Lee Roth yowl ranks higher, but that not only goes without saying but it also isn't even English.
It's telling that the above factors in the chorus of "Get Out of Here," the lead track on Sasquatch's third full-length (named, appropriated enough, III). While usually pegged as stoner rock, the Los Angeles-based three-piece is really an amped up and fuzzed out classic rock outfit. Take away guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs' Big Muff and dial back the distortion and what you get with these guys isn't too far removed from what American forebearers the Nuge, Grand Funk Railroad, and Montrose (well, at least the first album) were serving up and dishing out in the '70s.
It's a simple recipe, one almost as simple as the chorus to “Get Out of Here” - focus on not only the riff itself but on how well it leads into the chorus, which itself has to have the type of hook that's big without being overwhelmingly so. Time has shown that's easier said than done for most bands, but Sasquatch rises to the occasion on III. There's a surplus of catchy moments and well-crafted songs.
Sasquatch has always known their way around a barn-burner or two, and III's represented with “Took Me Away,” “Walkin' Shoes,” and “No More Time.” Sure, none of these songs quite match the one-two punch of II's “Barrel of a Gun” and “Seven Years to Saturn,” but it's not for a lack of trying. Where the band really outshines its previous material is on the slower burning material. “Pull Me Under,” “New Disguise,” and “Queen,” and “Bare My Soul” find fertile new ground in the “Love Done Me Wrong” category of blues-rock songwriting. I hate to wish ill on a band that I like, but if that's what it takes to get more tracks like these, well, so be it.
What's also notable about III is the wider, more confident range of songwriting. In addition to the numbers mentioned above and groove-friendly jams like “Soul Shaker,” “Leave It Up to You,” and “Burning Bridges,” the band branches out with the buoyant and almost radio-friendly “Complicated.” Hell, even “Walkin' Shoes” and “No More Time” burn with a brighter, peppier energy. It would have been easy to rely on the formula some could argue was pretty much perfected on their debut, but to the band's credit, they keep pushing themselves. Even better, they succeed at it.
It may have taken longer than expected, due to the departure of original bassist Clayton Charles (ex-Volume/Tummler four-stringer Jason “Cas” Casanova joins drummer Rick Ferrante in the rhythm section), but Sasquatch continues their winning streak with III. It may not be the best rock album of the year, but it's set the bar pretty damn high for 2010. You want it? Sasquatch has it, baby. Highly recommended.
- John Pegoraro
All right, I swear to Satan I heard this one coming over a year ago. I live in a basement you see, surrounded by four walls of thick concrete foundation, and beyond that lay the cold, dark earth; it’s a windowless incubator with end-of-the-world charm that picks up the slightest underground vibrations. A speeding midnight train 25 miles away will shake me from my sleep like a hungry grizzly bear. So, naturally, the SECOND the bottom end bastards in Sasquatch hunkered down in whatever forest-deep, rickety tin shack they like to call home and started recording III, I FELT it, man. My teeth started to bleed.
What’s even crazier is that now that it’s finally here, III ain’t nearly as devastating as I or II, but I guess that’s like saying having an anvil dropped on your head will kill you less than being run over by a bulldozer. I suppose what I mean to say is III is a looser, groovier, knuckle-draggin’ record than any of its predecessors, which just means Sasquatch strips the meat from the bone before beating you with it. Dig the songs “Pull Me Under,” “Soul Shaker,” “New Disguise,” and “Leave It Up To You” for the best boogie-fried examples. Of course, there’s still plenty of heavy, speed freak, stoner fuzz on III to keep things honest, but it just so happens that there’s some fine cosmic chemical magic mixed in with the thick desert dust now. To sum up, I’m still sucking the rusty iron from my pearly whites and it tastes like fucking victory.
III, Los Angeles rockers Sasquatch’s appropriately-titled third album for Small Stone, is like one of those girls. We all know those girls. You see them out and about whenever you’re brave enough to leave the house, and those girls know they’re super hot, and they know they’re way out of your and everyone else’s league, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Hit them with a bus and they’d still be hot. They know it, you know it. Even your girlfriend wants to have sex with these girls, and if she says otherwise, she’s lying.
III is like that, but with rock. And instead of being a total bitch, it’s all into Planet of the Apes and The Simpsons and stuff. Maybe I’m projecting.
In any case, what the trio does with this album is fuse the unmitigated fuzz stonerism of their first, self-titled album, with the classic feel of its 2006 follow-up, resulting in a brand of rock as much indebted to Grand Funk as Fu Manchu. III doesn’t even immediately strike as a stoner rock record, with opener “Get out of Here” (as in, “I gotta…”) based on a solid groove, but executed in a manner thoroughly modern despite any Southern rock influence. Highlight cuts “Pull Me Under,” “Burning Bridges” and the more boogieing “Walkin’ Shoes” follow likewise patterns, but somehow remain definitively stoner rock. The only answer is that Sasquatch are reshaping the genre to suit their needs.
“Pull Me Under” (thankfully not a Dream Theater cover) rocks slower than either the riffy and catchy “Complicated” or the chunkier, Helmet-style starts and stops of “Soul Shaker,” and with no shortage of character. Immediately following “Get out of Here,” “Took Me Away” centers around a bluesy riff executed with more than a little fuzz grown in. There’s more going on with III than fuzz and riffs though. Guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs is definitely at the center of the proceedings, but bassist Cas and drummer Rick Ferrante push the songs onto another level entirely, adding personality and well-placed flourishes to the material that prove both memorable and exciting to the ear.
If anything, I’d like to hear Gibbs take similar liberties with his material. Why not throw a quick squibbly lead line in between two verse riffs? It’s long since clear by the time the record’s back half opens with the acoustic-based Monster Magnetry of “New Disguise” that Sasquatch have a talent for arrangement waiting to be put to use, but there are moments of III that seem to be calling for a playfulness of which the band mostly steers clear. Fortunately, there’s enough rock to go around on a mid-paced groover like “Queen” that these are at best momentary distractions. And though I don’t want to tell Sasquatch how to run their band or anything, they could easily milk that guitar solo in “Queen” for another 17 minutes or so. Just saying.
“Leave it up to You” echoes the simple, catchy structure of “Complicated,” despite a somewhat slower pace and more laid back feel. Another killer solo from Gibbs plays out over running grooves from Cas, and it’s once again apparent that with Sasquatch it’s not just about any one player, but rather how well the three members of the band fit together as a unit and the yet-underappreciated excellence of their songwriting. Though “Bare My Soul” borders on hard psychedelia, “No More Time” once again grounds the album with a return to the faster rocking side of the band they showed on III’s first half. Like “Took Me Away,” the track is on the shorter side, but missing nothing and demonstrative that the presence shown throughout these songs doesn’t wane even when it could reasonably be expected to do so.
Aforementioned closer “Burning Bridges” marches III out on one of its most free-flowing, jammed-out moments, and as though it hadn’t been established already, once again the album proves worth the wait. I don’t know what held the band up between II and III, but these songs have the makings of classics in the genre, and are firm reminders of why Sasquatch are the great American hope for the next generation of stoner rock. I could continue to wax philosophical or fall into exaggerated hyperbole about how much ass this record and this band kick, but if you’ve made it this far into the review, you probably know that already. And if not, you’ll know it as soon as you listen to the album. 2010 just got its first highlight.
- H. P. Taskmaster