AN EYE FOR A BROW, A TOOTH FOR A PICK - Ground Components (Love and Mercy)
Although it’s frequently obscured by the fog of illicit drugs and deviant behaviour, but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was Hunter S Thompson’s quest to discover the fate of the American dream. What Thompson found – fat cats, hypocrisy and institutionalised ideological psychosis – simply led him to take more drugs.
There’s an element of Thompson’s deranged journey in the Ground Components’ debut album. “An Eye for a Brow, A Tooth for a Pick” is what happens when, in pursuit of the ragged edges of ‘60s garage and soul, caution is thrown to the wind and selfish hedonism becomes both the means and the ends. This is a journey into the abyss that’s as wild as a journey in an open topped car filled to eyeballs with Columbian chemical produce and Stanley Owsley’s finest kitchen creations. From the opening moments “On Your Living Room Floor”, it’s clear this is no ordinary effort – heart warming organ tones compete with grinding garage punk guitar chords and Joe McGuigan’s manic vocals conveying every last drop of catharsis. And then there’s “Fistful of Dollars”, a weird and strange sojourn into a world dominated by images of Clint Eastwood’s enigmatic contemplation, John F Kennedy’s exploding brain and Roky Erickson’s two headed dog.
But when the good times roll, they rock. “Stale Thoughts” is where The Doors might’ve been able to evolved to if Jimbo could’ve kept off the sauce for more than 10 minutes, “Hands In the Air” old fashioned rock’n’roll infected with plenty of community spirit, “Coming In From All Angles” sees MC Macromantics (Romy Hoffman) rapping over a funking 60s garage soul track to produce something that simply makes you want to dance and “Head in the Sand” captures the subtle beauty of 60s surfside punk. There’s some folky reflection in “As the Winter Months Approach" before a 10-minute radical re-interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” bludgeons the folk of the original into a wild shape that makes some of Dylan’s own artistic re-inventions seem like self-indulgent window dressing.
By the time the trip is finished you’re battered and bruised, and the all the better for the experience, and ready for more. It’s been a long wait for the Ground Components’ debut album – thankfully the wait is over, and it’s been well worth the wait. The ‘60s are dead – long live the Ground Components. - Patrick Emery
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