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Full stream: Fu Manchu & Moab — Scion AV Split 7″

I have never lived outside of the Midwest, and as a result, my relationship with stoner rock is primarily seasonal. No matter how soul-warming the desert grooves of the most devoted disciples of the sound-as-permanent-road-trip modus vivendi can be, it just ain’t that easy to feel right with Kyuss when you’re digging out from a foot of snow. The busy bees/saviors of music/devils incarnate at Scion A/V, however, are hell-bent on putting such contrarian listening inclinations through quite the squeeze with this 7″ split between Fu Manchu and Moab.

Fu Manchu’s “Robotic Invasion” digs in with an insistent swagger. These long-running Californian good-time peddlers know their way around a riff or two, so it’s no surprise that this hard-edged fuzzbomb sinks its teeth directly into your brain’s pleasure center. What really sells the song to these ears, though, is a chorus that feels more old-time Clutch than cactus. Before you know it, though, the lads fire off a guitar solo that burns lasers through your eyes, so good luck plotting a homeward course on any earthbound map.

Sadly, my chief recollection of Moab’s debut full-length Ab Ovo involves thinking, “Damn, that singer sure sounds a heck of a lot like Ozzy.” Their side of the split, “No Soul,” doesn’t do much to alter that initial impression. But unlike Black Sabbath, Moab’s stonier brew of the doomed draught features riffs that turn back in on themselves instead of propelling relentlessly forward. But then, late in the song, a funny thing happens: Moab hooks me. The tension between the steadfastly thrupping bass and the increasingly weeping lead guitar flourishes becomes even more palpable, and highlights (without mirroring) the interwoven threads of the vocal harmonies. All of this turns a three-minute genre exercise into a rather special little exploration of the porousness of musical borders.

And then – BAM! – it’s over. A drum kit tumbles down the stairs. Not even eight minutes of rock and roll; doesn’t ask much, but makes a good show of lifting even the most seasonally affective of one’s doldrums.

— Dan Lawrence

This split 7″ will be distributed for free at the second edition of Scion’s monthly rock showcase. The showcase, which will feature Indian Handcrafts, Dirty Streets, and LSDJs, will take place tomorrow (10/30) at The Satellite in LA.

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