Written by: Dave Cantrell
What to compare it to. A borderline vegetarian tearing into a T-bone, or a prim librarian kicking off the shoes, pouring a three-fingered shot and digging lustily into Mickey Spillane? I’m not sure, exactly, but I do know that every once in a while it’s a giddy, guilty pleasure-type catharsis to get thrown an unreconstructed, jam-kicking rock-n-fuckin-roll record to review, one unafraid of its own throwback impulses, one that transcends its ostensible lack of transcendence by basically not giving a damn. A rock record that just is.
The press release that came with Wake Up Lucid’s latest – a 6-song mini-LP called Gone With The Night – refers to them as a “Los Angeles gutter rock trio” and I’m not going to improve on that, not even going to try. Comprised of the cousins Baca (Ryan, vox and guitar, Ian bass, Jamie drums), the band, even as their sound broadens by steady increments – ‘evolve’ would be too strong a word; these guys aren’t going to stray too far from their core genus nor should they – clearly have a pretty strong grip on the invisible electric mojo wire that stretches from all the way back there at the legendary crossroads through the Fillmore-Avalon axis, the gritty and debauched proving grounds of the mid-80’s hard rock LA scene, to the recent crop of rawk demigods (your John Dwyers, Jack Whites, et al) that have prospered over the last ten years. So it’s little wonder Wake Up Lucid attracted the attention of Joe Cardamone, the force majeure behind the near-mythical power rockers Icarus Line, who’s mentored and produced them through three previous releases and now this EP. The lineage (The Icarus Lineage?), though not of an exact descent – the Baca boys choose not to pursue quite the Promethean heights of Cardamone’s crew, sticking instead to the base contingencies found closer to earth – is nonetheless unmissable.
Whether it’s the hot rod rocknroll of opener “White Collar Love” where the guitars seem wired to amps powered by pure adrenaline and Harley Davidson and the feel is distinctly Stooges meet the Dictators in a Helmet-tight riff off, the drawled, rough hypnotism of “Let It Roll” that makes of its deliberate, punching pace a profound virtue and boasts the bonus of a solo that pulls Paul Kossoff out of the grave and gives him a fresh lease on the searing guitar life – you can bet the doyen of Third Man Records is gonna wish he’d written that one – “I Want”‘s wonderfully OTT take on mid-70’s rockarama that’s gotta be this year’s finest paean to the mystical possibilities found deep in the American garage, or the truly Mountain-ous groove of “Get Fucked,” where the seethe of righteous pissed-offedness isn’t quite enough to despoil the monstrous fuzz-bass landscape, Wake Up Lucid leave no doubt which rock echelon they belong in. Even on the two slower tracks – the grimly romantic “Don’t Fear” that one could imagine Matthew Ryan covering, and the last track “Gone With the Night,” strummy Spanish-flavored acoustic layered in with a shimmery wash as well a couple of killer heartbreaker solos – an intrinsic fierceness obtains, guided by a keen self-discipline and a principled intuition that tells them when it’s right to let up on the gas.
Without putting too fine a point on it, Wake Up Lucid, in simple essence, meet the strict requirements of a modern-day power trio – impeccable riffage, a fearless unself-conscious heaviosity that brings itself to bear even on those ballad-y tracks, and state-of-the-art production that respects the big raw rock noise that the band pour their hearts into, giving it a kind of feral fidelity that brings bright shape to their primal energy without taming it.
In the end, there’s really nothing new here, so if you want to shuffle along and go home all safely bored, then go. But if you’d enjoy an honest half-hour of unpretentious, red-blooded rocknroll, well then just step right up and let this thing blow up in your face. As Cardamone says, Wake Up Lucid are “one of the best bands with guitars in their hands,” to which we’d add “period.”