Running the gauntlet between surf and psychedelia
It only takes a few seconds of listening to take a good guess at where Holy Wave is from. Now if you guessed “Austin, TX” then you would be correct. Regarded as the birthplace of all rock that trips out in its own reverb, Austin is still turning out bands running the gauntlet between surf and psychedelia. Like their sibling band The Black Angels, Holy Wave has a lot to owe to the original Austin trippers, the 13th Floor Elevators, but manage to keep to their own identity enough to stake some territory on their otherworldly beach. Relax is full of unique, tightly arranged songs with a familiar sound, with some nice hooks thrown in for good measure.
“Do You Feel It?” starts the album off nicely with some half-tempo meandering. However, that meandering is quickly left behind as Relax stomps and surfs its way through the other 39 minutes, taking a few breaks here or there but ultimately barreling it out on that far-out coast. The album never seems to go anywhere much further than this with its reverb’d out self, but it doesn’t take much away from the listen. With a few outstanding tracks sprinkled between the other well-written tunes, Relax is a solid debut and worthy of a listen for any fan of Fender guitars and reverb brought together through the power of drugs. More than anything else though, Relax finds its place in the world as the perfect soundtrack for a sunny, warm, acid-laced beach party.
REC: 1, 11, 7
RIYL: Black Angels, 13th Floor Elevators, Brian Jonestown Massacre,
Reviewed by Doug Bybee on 2-17-14