Tomorrow Never Comes EP by The Bixby Knolls (El Camino Media)
While at the recent Swervedriver show I bumped into Curt Barlage from The Bixby Knolls. Some time ago I attempted to be a music publicist and I met Curt when he was in a band back then. Fans of Swervedriver then and now, his current band sounds nothing like the Oxford guitar heroes. The Bixby Knolls straddles the line of using motifs and inspiration from the past and also making something new and passionate using their own voice. Juvenile Heart Crime starts the EP with a bass-heavy groove, a high synth loop burrowing into your ears, as slashing guitars and Barlage’s impassioned vocals grab you by the heart. And those “Oh oh oh”s are catchy as hell.
On Preacher, Teacher the group puts you under their spell with prominent and slinky bass guitar, chiming guitars and Barlage’s breathy and sexy vocals. A saxophone drops in for the exuberant instrumental second half bringing to mind many an early Psychedelic Furs song. On the title track that bass is just buzzing center stage, an upbeat tempo with tambourine sets in, guitars weave and slide around the edges and Burlage sings with just a touch of sadness yet sounds resigned to keep his chin up. The instrumental ending is so invigorating too.
You Gotta Give throws so many good parts into the song that I could barely place where I’d heard those drum beats, bass lines and odd keyboard bleeps. Half of the song is The Clash’s Radio Clash with Barlage’s raspy yelping delivery and echoing guitar slashes, and half liquid guitar and mysterious rhythms, hand percussion dropping in throughout the song. That all these disparate parts work together is a testament to the passion and talent of the band and is a thrill to hear.
The Bixby Knolls:
Curt Barlage – vocals, guitar
Lou Ros – keys, guitar, percussion
Christian Morales – bass, vocals
Miguel Ondiage – drums
(by Bret Miller)