2.5 / 10.0
So it has come to this. I try and make a point of keeping an open mind, and not doing things like judging a band based on their name. Look, there are plenty of bands out there with bad names, who still make good music. Probably the best good music to bad band name ratio will likely always belong to the Shins. Herbcraft? Yup, it’s everything I was afraid of and everything you should be afraid of too. When I first got my grubby digital download mitts on Herbcraft’s third album, The Astral Body Electic and their first for Woodsist, I initially took some small hope that the album’s six tracks were short because this was an EP. Alas, the songs here log in at an average of almost seven minutes apiece, which along with that questionable name and the totally spacey album art (man!), means listening to The Astral Body Electric is best done with a maximum of built up patience because doing so is truly a trip down a slightly amusing patchouli stankified time tunnel that I am pretty sure I could live the rest of my life without descending again.
Now to be fair, I should note that Herbcraft’s newest is on Woodsist records, a label I greatly admire. It’s home to White Fence, Purling Hiss, and several great acts. The label is run by a member of Woods, a group of fellow travelers to head Herbcraft-er Matt Lajoie, in terms of their late 60’s influneces. Now, Woods are one of my favorite acts, as despite the occasional descent into jam band territory, particularly on 2011’s Sun and Shade; truly a mixed bag if there ever was one in that it included some of that band’s best psych pop ditties, as well as some of their most perseverance-testing, Terrastock styled endless hippie fried noodling. Unfortunately, The Astral Body Electric is more or less comprised of the sort of the sort of psychedelic space rock that tests my listener’s mettle about as much as any form of popular music can.
I tend to seek out and listen the all the noise/garage/psych music I can find, but with understanding that the suffix of ‘pop’ can be placed appropriately on the end of each of those prefixes. Shorter songs with lots of ideas are usually preferable, in my mind, but I have also been known to engage in the occasional Bardo Pond or Charalambides marathon listening session. Unfortunately, it bears saying that Herbcraft, and all the dreary flower child tropes that go along with The Astral Body Electric come across as music made by the unfavorably indulgent, for the pharmaceutically enhances set. This is made all the less interesting in that the record is so emphatically unoriginal in sound, presentation, and spirit, making me wonder if Lajoie, was, in fact, born 65 years too late, so he could have truly been in his element, 45 years ago. I can understand not wanting to play the music of your parents if it was, I dunno, Pat Boone, or even the Eagles, but isn’t it just as bad if it’s rehashing the same kind of tunes they dropped acid to and rolled around in the mud? Hell, isn’t that even worse?
Purchase: Herbcraft – Astral Body Electric