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CD Review: Mondo Drag's New Rituals

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The Deal: Iowa psych-rock quintet releases its debut CD.

The Good: Mondo Drag's 11-track sonic adventure needs multiple listens to take it all in. The band hits you with an approach that lands somewhere between The Doors and Jane's Addiction – hints of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd in there too – with songs that are more musically-driven than lyrically-dominated. The disc opens up with a 40-second wave of feedback kicking off the nine-minute title track. By the time the drums get rolling, the guitar licks soak in and the keyboards march through in some kind of beach music send-off, the music as a whole has already started to melt your face off. Haunting vocals from drummer/singer Johnnie Cluney and guitarist/singer Nolan Girard carry the listener further as blues guitar jams are unleashed. It's psychedelic rock with a raw heart that mixes up the genres without the polish or attitude, as if some band from the '70s woke up in 2010 and decided there really was no reason to grow with the time and just do what they do best. And that's just the first track! Hints of saxophone are complimentary instead of a distraction on the bluesy, Hendrix-esque "Light As a Feather." "Fade Out" sounds like Perry Farrell singing over a Hendrix-ian groove. "Love Me (Like a Stranger)" adds in a smattering of The Mars Volta. The band gets acoustic on "Come Through" and "Black River."

The Bad: I'm not crazy about the the poor man's Sgt. Pepper album cover.

The Verdict: This one's worth picking up and listening to over and over and over... Forget the top 10, this one's a lock for top five of 2010.

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