When I spoke to former Kyuss frontman John Garciain 2014, he said the follow-up to his debut solo record could easily be an album of covers. In truth, Garcia’s sophomore album, The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues (Napalm), is instead an extension of his ‘An Evening With’ unplugged tour; nine tracks of stripped back acoustic music, featuring re-imaginings of Kyuss classics and some new material.
It’s desert rock, but not as we know it. Instead of thick, fuzzy guitars and Black Sabbath worship, it’s laid back, mellow, and simple. Rarely is there more than a couple of guitars and vocals. Opener ‘Kylie’ starts things off well; a swinging upbeat number punctuated by Garcia’s unmistakable howl. Despite being an acoustic original, it’s one that would no doubt sound great electrified.
Of the other originals on show, the simple chords and piano refrain of ‘The Hollingsworth Session’ is surprisingly emotive and a highlight, ‘Give Me 250ml’ is perfectly pleasant and upbeat but forgettable, ‘Argleben II’ is full of atmosphere, and ‘Court Order’ is just an instrumental out to bookend the album.
For many, it’s the reworking of the Kyuss classics that will be of the most interest. But to coin a clickbait headline, the results might shock you. ‘Green Machine’ – one of the more upbeat numbers from Blues for the Red Sun (Dali) – is almost completely unrecognisable. What was a dirty, crunching stoner classic is now a slow burner with a dreamy chorus. All the aggression has been replaced with a kind of melancholy.
The previously spaced-out trip of ‘Space Cadet’ has a newfound sense of swagger and a touch of softness about it, ‘Gardenia’ is stripped of all its heft and unfortunately loses something in the process, but ‘El Rodeo’ still manages to retain its ‘fuck you’ attitude and arguable matches the original.
Much like Brant Bork, Nick Oliveri, and of course Josh Homme, Garcia doesn’t need to be in Kyuss to make great music, but it doesn’t hurt. And this release won’t stop people wishing a reunion would happen.
Though acoustic records are sometimes up there with orchestras in terms of scraping the idea barrel, Garcia manages to pull it off with aplomb. It might have been released in winter, but The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues is the perfect kind of record to listen to while sitting on the porch and watching the sun go down on a summer’s day.