Let’s take a trip…………………….to Sunset Strip, to fuzzed out guitar, to wild and wailing harmonica, to beauty and beast boy/girl singing. Conjure up Sky Saxon or Kim Fowley subverting the peace and love vibes of the blissed out California sixties with their mondo wackiness, add some later essence of X and possibly Sonic Youth and you have the recipe for Conjure Time. The Hi Alerts are essentially a car crash collision of two Glasgow bands, The Primevals, swamp rock garage band par exemplar and Los Tentakills, purveyors of weird and witchy psychedelic trips. The resulting mash up is an album that should please fans of both bands with The Primevals’ Martyn Rodger’s guitar assaults adding plenty of heft to the lysergic leanings of the usual Los Tentakills affairs.
With Rhod Burnett pounding the drums and Ady Gillespie laying down a solid bass, Rodger and Al Hotchkiss flail away on guitars creating a fine Pebble dashed bedrock for singers, Michael Rooney and Celina Oxymandias. It’s tempting to call them a wigged out Sonny & Cher but in reality the pair of them are reminiscent of John Doe and Exene Cervenka tardised back a decade to the sixties and fronting a twisted Hollywood’s director’s idea of a way out combo, perhaps waiting in the wings of Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.
Folk who recognise the name checks above will already be forming sounds in their head as to how Conjure Time sounds. If you’re not familiar with them then suffice to say that Conjure Time is packed with songs that are undeniably retro but which howl to be heard in the present time. The opening song Four Walls is an incredible guitar warped groove, Broken Heart is Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood (or George Jones and Tammy Wynette) punked up. Stop Messing With My Mind is a sonic guitar mind melt while Straight Ahead To My Soul wrenches the ghosts of the MC5 and forces them to party with Sonic Youth when they were Geffen bigwigs circa Goo. Losing Streak is one of the songs that most recalls the heyday of X with Rooney and Ozymandias in perfect twisted tandem. Catastrophe is a mighty showcase for the duelling guitars here with wah wah and screaming solos battling it out for supremacy over the funkiest background here. They close the album with Twisted In The End, a fuzz fuelled diatribe that again brings us back to the essence of X although it’s much more frantic than anything that combo ever laid down on record with a veritable wall of sound towards the end. Magnificent.