Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Reverberations: the debut album!

It was a little over a year ago that I got my first taste of The Reverberations - and right off I sensed that Dave Berkham (ex The Cry!) had something special going with his new band. I just didn't realize it was all going to come together this quickly! Along side John Jenne (Sundaze, White Swans), Ian Bixby (Go Fever, Errata Note), and Cam Mazzia (Midnight Callers), Berkham has quickly established himself as a lead singer and songwriter of considerable talent. And with a superb debut album now out on the venerable Screaming Apple Records, I have a much fuller picture of what The Reverberations are about. Mess Up Your Mind sounds like it could have been released in 1967- when the worlds of psychedelic rock and garage rock frequently overlapped. From the guitar effects down to the vocal arrangements, this release uncannily recreates the sound of '67. I was even convinced that a few of these tracks just had to be covers, but it turns out they're all Dave Berkham originals!

I would describe Mess Up Your Mind as psych rock with an emphasis on the rock. Even the more "out there" songs have a solid punch to them. And when The Reverberations turn their attention to pure and primal '60s garage action, they do it as well as any band out there. Ultimately it's the mix of different styles that makes this release so very enjoyable. A full album of Sonics/Standells/Shadows of Knight style numbers would have been alright, but I think it's far cooler that high-energy '60s punk ravers like "Wild" and "No No No" are totally unexpected changes of pace here. Berkham, always open about his love for the classic music of the '60s, honors his songwriting heroes by emulating their versatility and openness to new ideas. From the groovy psych-pop of "Outtasite" to the thumping freakbeat of "Mystery" to the eerie, semi-acoustic "Succubus" to the surf-tinged "Don't Hurt My Pride" to the Beatlesque "You're Mine All Mine", this album runs the gamut of later '60s influences. Yet the exceptional quality of these songs and the sheer energy of the band's playing elevate The Reverberations well above the usual revivalist/throwback/tribute niche.

I know it's a total cliche to credit a band with taking classic music and making it "current". But it's hard to deny that The Reverberations successfully tap into the genuine timelessness of one of the best-ever eras of music. Of course I would recommend Mess Up Your Mind to fans of The Byrds, later '60s  Stones/Kinks/Who, and the Nuggets compilations. But I also see The Reverberations as the kind of band that will inspire younger generations to seek out some of the great music of the past. Screaming Apple Records is a label with a long history of working with the top new talent in the world of garage and pop. Clearly that continues with The Reverberations.


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