Rugged, psychedelic tracks that both captivate and entertain
Tia Carrera may not be the most prolific artist within the contemporary hard and psychedelic rock scenes, but they remain right where they should be: firmly locked into a niche sound that builds upon the foundations of brain-melting, vision-inducing psychedelic rock and the thunderous archetype of hard rock without the frills and oddities of overproduction. The Austin, TX-based outfit, consisting of guitarist and sound engineer Jason Morales, drummer Erik Conn and bassist Curt Christenson, has been working to uphold the classic psychedelic sound for nearly 20 years, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of hard rock.
Formed in 2003, the band has released a number of instrumental hard rock albums that have evolved from lengthier three-to-four track arrangements to shorter ones, with their most recent release, Tried and True, clocking in at a concise 37 minutes. Perhaps the instrumental nature of the albums have detracted slightly from the group’s accessibility and mainstream potential, but with the group putting so much emphasis on the noise and undulations of its instrumentation, vocals would have effectively become an afterthought. It’s just not what the trio are going for in their sound.
On the album, Tia Carrera is presenting the results of years upon years of experimentation. This experimental nature of the band’s compositions enables them to push the boundaries of genre to fit their own artistic intention. On this album, the band really pushes for a rugged sound filled with heavily distorted guitars, entrancing bluesy solos and the sobering crash of symbols. The sound includes elements of many different predecessors of the hard and psychedelic rock genres, but the influences that are especially apparent in the newest release include acts like Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath.
Tried and True commences with lengthy opening track “Layback,” a loud and distorted track that includes some excellent playing from Morales as he wails away in unison with a consistent heavy bass riff and energetic percussion from Conn. This track blends the characteristics of Hendrix-esque guitar with the noise and hardness of The Melvins. It’s an attention grabber of an opening track if there ever was one.
“Taos” starts with a fairly metal-inspired introduction, leading listeners into a thunderous, thrashing psychedelic array full of twists and turns. By the end of the track, the guitar track divulges into screeching psychedelica while the rest of the instrumentation continues with a persistently aggressive tone. “Swingin’ Wing” definitely feeds off of the Hendrix influence as energetic guitar riffs swirl around in support of the percussion. “Zen and the Art of the Thunderstorm” is a high-pitched filler track of drawn-out instrumentals that leads listeners into the 14-minute closer “Tried and True;” it combines all elements of the album into one last marvelous hurrah filled with the energetic, grungy and coarse rocking that is executed so very well on this album.
This album is simply an entertaining, complete work that possesses a captivating nature from start to finish. The instrumentation is polished in execution, but remains untamed in sound as a result of the distortion over which hard rockers, metalheads and psychedelic revelers can bond. The album offers a similar listening experience to that of albums such as Hendrix’s Axis: Bold as Love or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon: listeners can kick back, become entranced while remaining blissfully connected with the sounds of the music. After nearly 20 years of humble rocking, the musical craft of Tia Carerra is, indeed, tried and true, but manages to preserve elements of the past while creating elements of the future in the most enthralling, enthusiastic manner possible.