Crystal Antlers were once a band of chimneysweeps doing door-to-door hustle with broom and top hat all across the same California suburbs responsible for Saccharine Trust and the Middle Class, and after a long day up on the roof they'd return to write songs that went spiraling into space. (Early favorites like "Parting Song For The Torn Sky" and "Until The Sun Dies, Part 2" even then, they were always looking up!) They covered Mose Allison and Chocolate Watchband, had their van stolen and then returned because of their sheer karmic purity, and grew from a viciously untamed bar band to fringe-psych explorers of the first order. Their first full-length Tentacles presents their permanent line-up singer/bassist Jonny Bell, guitarist Andrew King, drummer Kevin Stuart, organist Victor Rodriguez, percussionist Damian Edwards and original guitarist Errol Davis back for reinforcement in full roar.
By now, they've played almost everywhere: shows at the shuttered Mondo Video home of various outré porn shoots, where photos of band members' vitals were reportedly dis layed on the wall and at biker (leather kind, not spandex kind) fests in Vegas and metal fests in Reno and hill-top tee-pees in Los Angeles and even aboard a supercharged speedboat cutting messy diagonals in the Pacific with Crystal Antlers planted resolutely between the amplifiers and the mini-fridge. Their veggie-powered national schoolbus tour this summer burned in their road credentials, but they have their sea legs, too. (In fact, Bell is a certified Sea Scout the amphibious division of the Boy Scouts.) By the time their self-titled EP (produced by the Mars Volta's keyboardist Ikey Owens) was re-released on Touch and Go and by the time it got an 8.5 rating on Pitchfork that predicted a "triumphant full-length" they'd already sold five thousand copies by word-of mouth. By the time you read this, that full-length will be finished.
Tentacles finds the Antlers exploding through the unclaimed space between '60s garage toughs like the Music Machine and the Misunderstood, red-eyed noiseniks like Guru Guru and Les Rallizes Denudes (whose ever-present turbine whine serves as the sound of the Crystal Antlers' circulatory system) and the mechanized motor-soul of Osmium-era Parliament. Raw want meets raw power on songs like the title track and "Until The Sun Dies Part 1," which push "Black To Comm" break-outs into "What's Goin' On?" sentiments while the trademark Antlers organ howls at lights on the horizon. Between the screamers come the scenery the Pharoah Sanders-style sax snippets that confetti the end of "Sun Dies," the gentle oceanic drone-poem "Vapor Trail," the album intro that sounds like Blue Cheer chasing Terry Riley's "Rainbow In Curved Air." It's an album that functions as an organism it breathes, it sleeps, it wakes up hungry and ready to chase something down.