Album Review: Heavy Glow - Midnight Moan (2011)

 by Dan Nightingale

Heavy Glow sound exactly like you might imagine from their name: heavy, 60's psychedelic inspired blues/garage rock. In fact the first song on their newest album, “Lose my Mind,” evokes images of Hendrix in the vocals and guitar shredding. Far underneath the guitar one can make out faint baselines and drums though they're fairly buried in the mix.

All though the riffs are simple they're catchy and tight. On the next track, “Slave Dance,” the band slips into something more comfortable; laid back drums carry a winding bass groove punctuated by 90's alt-metal guitar pull offs and periodic vocal stabs. The trends continue on “Today is Technicolor (One Step Closer),” evoking old school prog ala Yes or Genesis while retaining the modern rock vocals. Falsetto backup vocals mix nicely with alternating clean and dirty guitars and inspire catchy choruses a plenty.

The recording and production is a little unusual in some places but everything fits together nicely. The bass occupies only the lowest territory and the symbols are pushed down pretty far to make room for the guitar. There are soaring solos a plenty, often bouncing from one channel to the other, laden with effects. I picture guitarist Jared Mullins as the kind of guy who owns a suitcase full of distortion pedals – there are certainly a wide variety of tones on the album.

The record makes good use of dynamics, as well, with slower and quieter sections breaking up the heavier riffs in a fairly consistent pattern, as exemplified in the classic blues jam “Purgatory Blues,” which also features some fantastic thick organ tones. “Smithereen” takes the dynamics to the furthest extreme, eschewing electric guitar completely for some acoustic blues riffing. The song fades off into pure blank slate synthesizer with the short of mellow “Midwestern Lullaby”, swelling with noise before returning to form in the rock jam “Diggin' a Ditch,” where the vocals have come full circle from Hendrix to Big Sugar.

While the record owes about 90% of it's sound to 70's blues rock and 90's alt rock, there's still something to be said for the catchy drum beats, flashy-when-it-needs-to-be bass, and the simple but effective songwriting. It's not new or groundbreaking, but it is a good time and the kind of band you'd want to play your favorite bar every night if they could.


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