While it’s easy to put a premium on music that’s “fresh,” plenty of listeners can (and do) apply the same value to that which is familiar. On rare occasions the twain do meet, and so it is with Mark Deutrom’s newest project, Bellringer.

A one-time member of the Melvins during their late-’90s glory days, as well as producer on Gluey Porch Treatments and Ozma, there’s plenty of that era bleeding through on debut album Jettison. Opening with a riff straight out of the Stoner Witch playbook, “The God Of Roosters Does Not Forget” sets the tone with a quick shot of Southern rock swagger before slowing down and giving way to “Quitter,” an 8-minute desert rock opus that Kyuss wish was theirs. The guitar parts are immediately memorable and full of hooks, while Deutrom’s smoky Texan vocals complement them with a chilled out, slightly sinister vibe. Instead of a chorus between verses, the band completely changes course and throws in some shimmering guitar notes backing angelic group harmonizing; think the Beach Boys guesting on a ZZ Top b-side. It’s a left-field move, but Bellringer impeccably pull it off.

Where Jettison pulls off the fresh/familiar axiom is in its ability to sound timeless without adhering to a certain era. A song like “Inner Freak” might have ’60s jazz flute runs, some Man’s Ruin Records riffs, a male/female duet and more of the aforementioned harmonies, but as a whole it ultimately sounds unlike anything else. Josh Homme’s discography is probably the closest reference point for this album, but that does Jettison a disservice because it leaves out so much of the ‘other’ that’s going on. It’s that ‘other’ that makes it what it is: one of the more unique rock records to come along in some time.

—Chris Rowella
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