Ah the electric guitar. I remember as if it were yesterday, this holy human invention being the coolest possible accessory an earthling could brandish. Nothing could convey emotion, vulnerability, rage and chaos like a great guitarist making sweet love to their axe.
Maybe it’s too much for the modern human to take – the fire and brimstone of pure unadulterated guitar rock. While Earth’s temperature rises, the human race retreats inward, the masses embracing a chillier aesthetic of synths and icy beats; a sound bestowed upon us by the 6ix God himself.
The press would like us to believe the flame has been suffocated. A pile of embers without enough oxygen to ever ignite again.
Somewhere in that pile, Uncle Neil is singing something about burning out and fading away while seemingly doing both at the same time. Huddled around that campfire are all the kids who weren’t born for these times, guitars in hand doing whatever they can to fan the flames.
Many attempt to nurse this sad pile back to life with quintessential three, four, five chord rock and roll. The kind that was the last truly flammable version of rock – flannel shirts, self-depreciation and all.
Alas, these revivalists failed to fill their lungs with enough oxygen to reignite that ancient flame. They failed to acknowledge that what made rock truly burn was the unknown. The search for some feeling, some hair-raising sequence of frequency that sends us into outer space and yet distinctly plants us on terra firma.
Snake River are explorers in search of guitar-rock nirvana. The type Uncle Neil surely stumbled across once or twice while exploring the unknown with Crazy Horse. Like any great explorer, Snake River had to first get lost to find new land, so they created Snake River Mountain; a town full of characters similar to the ones in your town, but more cosmic and little more old fashion.
Now on their third full-length exploration, Sun Will Rise, Snake River has gone deeper than they ever before. Album opener, “Don’t Believe In Yourself” perfectly sets the tone for this expedition. Two quick snare hits immediately announce the wall of psychedelic, shoegazed guitar power that persists throughout the album. The refrain “Don’t believe in yourself / You’re just like everyone else”, a philosophy suited for true cosmic seekers stuck on planet earth, sets us up for the well-arranged and catchy vocals that add depth to the colour created by music. Both “I Was Very Drunk Jeannie” and “Something/Nothing?” are anchored by vocal hooks that you won’t be able to shake despite the woozy wizardry happening on the guitar front.
One surefire way to ignite the dwindling guitar rock fire is the gasoline of all classic rock – the guitar solo. Snake River recklessly, thrillingly pour it on. Most bands would be scared to feature so much solo but most bands are not Snake River, and that is refreshing and exciting for any guitar enthusiast. Take one run through of the epic “Mr. McKruski Walks Down Absalom Street” and you’ll be longing for the days when extended solos were greeted with vigorously excitement and wonder.
Sun Will Rise is one of the most exciting Canadian rock albums of the year and positions Snake River as the obvious masters of the psychedelic highway. I wouldn’t be surprised if Uncle Neil finds himself living in Snake River Mountain one day to be honest. The sheer ambition of this record is reason enough to pay attention to this colossal sounding band, but Snake River manage to be more than just ambitious. They reach for the stars and often touch them. That little fire that so many believe is extinguished still burns brightly in Regina, Saskatchewan and has nothing to but room to spread.