As the voice of Desert rock, John Garcia‘s CV is pretty impressive. He’s fronted a fair few classics with the likes of Kyuss and Slo Burn and shown he’s still got it following last year’s almost-Kyuss album with Vista Chino. But up until now he’s never struck out on his own.
Now after more than 20 years John Garcia the solo artist has brought out a self-titled album (Napalm). Featuring guitarist Robby Krieger of The Doors and recorded at his Horse Latitudes studio in Los Angeles, the album features songs that Garcia has collected through the years but never released. The results are a bit of a mixed affair all in all.
Opener ‘My Mind’ is a belter, Garcia’s gritty and instantly recognisable vocals cut across simple but dirty guitars with a huge chorus that sticks in your head for days. But unfortunately the album rarely gets as good again. A cover of Black Mastiff‘s ‘Rolling Stoned’ follows and has an enjoyable stoner vibe but is largely uneventful, and ‘Confusion’ lacks any kind of drive.
As a whole there is less of a stoner groove and more of a fuzzy 70s hard rock feel about the album. While some of the slower songs work, ‘Flower’ and ‘His Bullets Energy’ show off Garcia’s soulful yet raw vocal style, these quality numbers are outnumbered by the more laidback ones, meaning there often feels like a lack of urgency to the record as a whole.
Despite the fair share of average moments there are some real highs. The stomping Danko Jones-penned ‘5000 Miles’ is probably the albums best song with its bluesy gallop, while ‘All These Walls’ (a re-recorded version of a Slo Burn demo) and ‘SaddleBack’ are brimming with the kind of energy that’s lacking elsewhere.
While not up there with his classic releases, John Garcia is a solid if unspectacular affair with some real moments of quality but plenty of uninspiring ones too. Fans will lap up another helping of Garcia’s impressive vocals, but anyone hoping for another dose of Kyuss-inspired psychedelia will be disappointed.