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John Garcia


Album Review: JOHN GARCIA The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

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Prolific and stoner are not two words generally seen paired together as the connotation of the latter is that of one who is lazy, but John Garcia is the perfect icon to break such a stereotype. And maybe it'd be a bit inappropriate to assume Garcia's cannabis intake nowadays, but in the musical sense, he has been consistently a significant factor in the stoner rock affiliated Palm Desert scene. Being his second solo record, this talented vocalist and songwriter decided to take a different musical path to prove his maturation.

With heavy projects such as Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano, and Vista Chino in his past, one may wonder the necessity and worth of a solo acoustic record, especially with half the material being covers. The mere concept of translating music reliant on distortion to a stripped-down setting reminds me of the success in MTV Unplugged performances by the likes of Nirvana or Alice in Chains. Yet, as listeners enjoyed the Unplugged series, they were reassured by fact that the artist would inevitably perform the songs in their traditional fashion. In the case of this LP, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, the unfortunate truth rests in the extremely slim chance that this material, including the Kyuss tracks, will ever be seen live in an electric or "metal-oriented" format.

However, I won't be as dense to conclude that this release is as shallow as a simple tease of nostalgia or the desire for heaviness. The four acoustic reincarnations of Kyuss songs are undeniably interesting. Starting with "Green Machine" and "Space Cadet" off Blues for the Red Sun and Welcome to the Sky Valley respectively, the simplicity and minimalism works. "Gardenia" seems to be the most successful remix though as it sounds like a complete different song. I mean yes, it has the same melody, but wow, the layered guitars and other instrumentation create a beautiful transformation. The same can be mostly said about "El Rodeo" immersion-wise, but I think it would've been more effective with softer vocals.

As for the new tracks, "The Hollingsworth Session" is likely the highlight with a most excellent guitar progression. Yet, I was left with curious cravings of how the piece would sound in the electric realm. The two songs being promoted with official videos, "Kylie" and "Give Me 250ML," are certainly enjoyable with the former being the more detailed. "Argleben II," a sequel piece in connection to a track off his self-titled 2014 solo album, succeeds with a tense build up and delivery.

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There's plenty of subtleties in this release that are rather pleasant with the additional help of acoustic guitarist Ehren Groban, percussionist Greg Saenz, and bassist Mike Pygmie. For example, on "Space Cadet" there is what sounds to be an organ and "Kylie" has unique percussion throughout. Although I do wish this variety in instrumentation was pushed higher in the mix, there were moments that had a diverse Desert Sessions-like vibe.

While I have doubts that there was any intention in creating something that would top his past main project, Kyuss, the way that Garcia approached these re-recordings was tasteful and creative. As a matter of fact, I'd confidently assume the impressive solo releases by the likes of Chris Cornell, Dax Riggs, David Gilmour, etc. never intended to outdo the output of Soundgarden, Acid Bath, or Pink Floyd. When considering not only the Kyuss covers but also the new original material, this album is truly a pleasant experience. If his previous solo album didn't convince you, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues confirms that electrically or acoustically, John Garcia is a talented songwriter.

Score: 7.5/10

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