There are more references for this type of music than the sometimes overrated hipster bands doing the rounds – look into your parents’ record collection…or turn on, tune in, trip out to the Kent-based rockers Tarot Rats, who originate from the beautiful British countryside. Their guitars are outstanding and are complemented by articulate basslines and aggressive drumming. The music on a whole is filled with great blues structured songs and face melting melodies. Feverish psych-infested blues rock returns on the band’s EP, “Pretty Faceless”, packed to the brim with blazing tempos, cartwheeling jams and the wild-eyed guitar escapades. Expertly channeling the kaleidoscopic intersection of electric blues and cosmic psychedelia in the late 60s and 70’s, many of these tracks richly evoke the sense of freewheeling creativity and inspired showmanship of that era. Yet there is nothing pretentious or overindulgent here.
The Tarot Rats’ blues-rock song jams, build in sharp contrast to modern conventions of pop restraint. This is a band that lets it all hang out, both vocally and musically, especially their grooves. When it comes to energy, presence and delivery of classic rock, frenetically cast into a one-of-a-kind bluesy shuffle, there’s few who currently do it better than Tarot Rats, or more precisely – Timothy Steel (Lead Vocals), Riff Wizard (Guitar), Solo (Guitar), Chiv (Bass) and Malc (Drums).
“Pretty Faceless” continues their forward push into max-impact rock and blues with 5 new tracks and just under 25 minutes of genuine, bona fide scorch, the likes of which, again, most other bands today simply would not be able, or bothered to conjure up.
“Tower” starts the recording off on a slow an epic cinematic soundscape, where Timothy Steel’s vocal reign supreme. The song builds from its comfortable fluidity into an all-out surge of euphoric power with a fervent shuffle and peppered-in string-tearing leads.
The sense of setting a vibe is quick on “Unicorn Girl”, as the classy basslines and furious guitar work unleash their barrage atop the snare rolls and impossible-sounding tom hits, backing the verse and chorus as guttural vocal lines are meted out with the band’s blue-eyed soul.
It’s constant motion, and that’s no less a hallmark of Tarot Rats’ approach than the hook that follows, the madcap pacing, the soaring vocals or the head-spinning result of all these elements combined.
“Stranger” slow jams into the swirling guitars which finds Steel’s voice drenched in soul atop the Hendrix-like guitars, but pulls back on the tempo in places to give more of a cyclical feel to its verse lines, punctuated by the drumming.
This is without a doubt the most affecting track, and my absolute favorite song of the bunch. Just as your heart rate starts to simmer down on the close of the song, “White Rainbow” brings the high octane energy right back to the forefront, with a high-flying powerhouse sound.
The EP closer, “All I’ll Ever Be” newest album is an eclectic mix of keyboard-drenched chords, psychedelic guitar rhythms and soulful vocals that will creep through your headphones to your ear-hole’s delight. The song will simultaneously make your heart swoon while melting your face off.
It’s not only the songs on “Pretty Faceless”, but the sheer energy and flair with which they are delivered. It’s a flash-point in time, of an amaranthine genre captured in one molten record, the likes you rarely see these days.