To follow a Harsh Toke, one might choke on a little smoke. Getting stuck in the vibe of these guys is like following around the Mystery Van after a failed smog check. From San Diego, Harsh Toke is lead by pro skaters Justin “Figgy” Figueroa on guitar and Richie Belton on bass, with Austin “Buya” Ayub on drums and Gabe Messer on keyboards. Light Up and Live is their first record together.
While many bands of this similar nature is often called “Jam Bands” or “Acid or Stoner Rock.” These guys could also be suited under a new label as “Stoner Jazz.” These guys have a science for what they do, a real connection with the sounds they produce both through their own instruments and each other. These brothers light up the atmosphere with their own borealis of psychedelic rock.
With only four tracks to chill with, the groove lasts a long time. Amazingly, these guys can stretch but four separate songs into a 40-minute full-length album. “Rest in Peace” is a clean, short jam that can intro anything from a wicked ’60s high speed San Francisco car chase to another wicked fast ’60s car chase with a lead to party sequence. “Weight of the Sun” has a calling about it that is primitive and elf-like, with fire drums and a flute, it is definitely meant for a dreamlike state of mind. Towards the end is where the drug known as Harsh Toke really sets in and the psychedelic play erupts.
With a sexy “drop it all” base line, title track “Light Up and Live” opens real nice with true atmosphere electric grooves and shell shaking elements of mixed natural sound. “Plug into the Moon” is a renaissance of old jamming cycles and riffs that could make you cry, if that’s how you were feeling man… go with it.
While this album isn’t groundbreaking, its music is awesome; overall, it is well orchestrated and engineered. Harsh Toke is a band that is meant to be heard in hoards– it is very big sound for how small the band is now. It is only a matter of time before they should become legends, if they stick around long enough for that to happen.