Raw, beguiling psychedelia from Californian newcomers.
Crystal Antlers boast an eye-popping resume: frontman Johnny Bell is a former chimney sweep; the sextet grew up on the apparently rather mean streets of Longbeach, CA, aka the ‘hood that gave the world Snoop Dogg (last year they nearly had to cancel a bunch of shows when they emerged from rehearsals to find their tour-bus on breeze-blocks). Their music is almost as distinctive as their backstory: Tentacles mingles raw garage-pop, fuzzy psychedelia and apocalyptic metal stabs with an air of exuberance.
On paper, it’s a potentially stomach-flipping gumbo. But somehow Crystal Antlers parlay an anything-goes strategy into forceful, doom-laden music, a perfect soundtrack for uncertain times. Granted, there are proggy overtones throughout, yet Bell’s splintered yell prevents things from sliding into a comfort zone. He rants and rumples through the protean throb of ‘Time Erased’ and whilst his ragged delivery metastasis into full-blown death metal shriek on ‘Your Spears’. Tentacles is a brooding, difficult record – one that, at times, seems determined not to be liked. But there’s something about its mingling of ugly truths and bludgeoned poetry that will keep you glued to the end.
Key track: ‘Time Erased’