Los Angeles band Imogene is a bit trippy, and not in artwork alone (though you should see the inside of the booklet). They are what one would probably deem psychedelic rock, though I think if a band ever deserved the ‘stoner rock’ label, it would be these guys. The overly-repetitious grooves beg to zone out to, and the smooth drifting vocal melodies are nothing that will harsh your mellow. However, never having been a stoner, I am not connecting with the album much.
If the band does have something goin’ for ‘em, it’s unique instrumentation. I thought I’d been around the musical block a bit but I didn’t know how an eight-string bass would work. Apparently, the strings are doubled an octave up -- take a look. As if that weren’t enough bottom end, they have another bassist, this one on the standard four-stringer. These two dudes sometimes apply distortion to achieve guitar-like effects, but for the most part, covering the treble end here is electric piano and organ, though the supporting role of the parts never suggests the Doors.
Instead the band claims Black Sabbath as an influence, but I’m not buying it. Even with two bassists, the riffs rarely feel powerful, choosing to groove instead of rock and the drums lay back and never push you to fist pumping. “Wasteoids” perhaps comes close, but then fades into background music like most progressions here. I’m getting a bit of a grungy Soundgarden feel, especially in “Paper Dolls,” but it’s not even beefy enough to warrant that and Chris Cornell had more captivating vocals. Pink Floyd and Yes come to mind at points, and the swimming vocal effects of “Wormwood Raindrops” recall the most psychedelic of the Beatles’ fare. The vocals are never forced or angry, drifting above the noise, but when he gets a little riled up on the chorus of “Sunny Day Child” it’s the peak of vocal interest on the album.
It’s difficult to point out many high points -- or low points for that matter -- because Imogene just kinda ‘is.’ This self-titled album is actually a reissue due to mixing issues on the original 2005 version, and apparently Imogene are ready with new stuff, planning to release a couple albums in rapid succession, one being ‘heavier.’ We shall see. I’m not going to say I didn’t bob my head along with some of these stone grooves, but after the initial hope of each new track I would notice the similar tempos, lazy trippy feels and lack of captivating melodies, making it pointless to mention anything on the second half of the album. It’s just not my thing; perhaps someone of the right mind-altered mindset might see it differently.