GODS OF SOMETIMES – Gods Of Sometimes

You might assume that a band featuring Fu Manchu’s Brad Davis on various musical duties would take a stoner rock route, but his Gods of Sometimes – a duo formed with similarly multi-faced studio hand Andrew Gukamakis – paints a much broader musical canvas. Their self-titled album has a hazy desert rock air in a couple of places, but the bulk of the material shouldn’t just be pigeonholed as such. Nor is it an easy love letter to an alternative rock past; there are elements within the arrangements that call back a much earlier time, whilst still sounding relevant at the time of recording.

Despite the album sharing a fairly varied set of tunes, the band’s self-titled song (and opening track) can be considered a good example of the Gods of Sometimes’ combined talents. The core of the track sounds like a mellow take on one of Jerry Cantrell’s solo pieces, but with an almost Pink Floyd-esque leaning within the mid tempo rhythm and the tone of the cleaner guitars, it plays like a brilliant marriage of 90s rock and wistful prog, glued together with a huge desert rock heart. The whole of the layered arrangement is rather fine, but the mix of Andrew’s easy vocals, a couple of Gilmour-ish lead guitar tones and a hefty nod to ‘Soft Bulletin’ era Flaming Lips, results in something that’s both retro and strangely timeless. Speaking of The Flaming Lips, long-term member and multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd drops by to add keyboards to the excellent ‘Watching For Satellites’, but strangely, despite his presence, the number has less of a Lips influence. Maybe that’s deliberate, but it’s still a really strong number, and actually feels a little more indebted to 70s prog and peak Floyd with its dark underbelly colliding with a light melody and floaty vocal. The meat of the track, bringing together a muscular bass sound and wavering keyboard linking the verses, comes with a hint of ‘Wish You Were Here’ era material. At the same time, though, the band has plenty of their own sound to bring to the table. As the tune progresses with the addition of wordless vocals and a shift into a middle eight where retro keys rise up further, the band’s commitment to a wonderfully hazy brand of alternative rock – inflected with a love of psychedelia – becomes clearer than ever.

Those looking for something a little meatier will probably glean enjoyment from the riff-based ‘You Will’, a tune driven more by the drums and bass. The weight of the piece is the closest the Gods’ come to invoking Brad’s work with Fu Manchu, but no further comparisons should be sought. In places, the track plays more like an Arctic Monkeys piece circa the Josh Homme produced ‘Humbug’; in others, the weighty style hints at Them Crooked Vultures, but once the number reaches its peak and a wall of ringing guitars smashes through the heady rhythm, more of the band’s 60s vibes can be heard. Don’t look for a big chorus here, though – there isn’t one. This relies far more on mood and groove, but on that score, it works out fine; with a cranking of the volume, it sounds even better. More of a stoner vibe drives ‘Just Another One’, since the usual clean production values are replaced by a fudgier, almost live sound. This makes the drums on the track sound huge and the guitar work feel rather dirty, but there’s something that’s still very cool about the Gods’ desires to blend a little stoner rock with the aesthetics of peak Dinosaur Jr. Thanks to the presence of a later arrival of a secondary guitar part bringing a ringing melody, this slowly builds into something more interesting than the initial combo of funereal pace and high tenor vocals would suggest.

At the band’s most laid back, the short ‘Wherewithall’ kicks off with strings and keyboard drones, suggesting a deep psych heart, but quickly shifts into a semi-acoustic, dark folk piece, where low key harmonies lay a honeyed texture over crisply plucked rising and falling notes. It’s more about mood than melody, but the 70s vibes coming through the vaguely Alice In Chains/Jerry Cantrell like tune as is cool as ever, and a few more intricate notes – almost playing like an Ant Phillips warm up – add an interesting dimension to the Gods’ array of retro sounds. Another standout, ‘In The End’ takes the Flaming Lips guts of the Gods’ work, adds several Beatle-esque rhythms and layers, and applies a great call and response vocal to some fine twenty first century psych rock. The way Andrew’s voice is counterbalanced by a few guitar howls and a jangly rhythm is, in many ways, peak Gods. Without losing any of their hazy brilliance, and even with an extra dose of mellotron drone, this feels so much more accessible. With J. Mascis guesting on guitar – applying an easily recognisable flurry of distorted and sometimes atonal notes – it easily becomes the album’s highlight. On top of all of this very strong material, you’ll also find the exquisite ‘Dawn of The Tin Man’, a number that could easily make a claim for the album’s second best tune. The core of the music draws from a particularly retro mood, and there’s plenty within the indie rock sounds where ringing guitars and wistful vocals show off both musicians’ love for the alternative 90s. It sounds very much like Andrew has overdosed on Mercury Rev’s excellent ‘All Is Dream’ before going into the studio, whilst Brad’s solid but unassuming drumming adds a little extra punch. It’s likely you’ll come away from that first all important listen with the vocals at the forefront of your mind, but it’s worth revisiting and listening more closely: the punchy bass sound has a really organic feel, and those wavering interludes more than suggest a much bigger love of 60s psych has inspired the end result, even if the rocky sound feels a little more 90s in tone.

Those looking for a great listen where moods and textures are at the forefront of everything should definitely add Gods of Sometimes to their list of bands to check out. As albums go, this self-titled affair is sometimes a little low key, but there’s a lot within its hugely retro sound that holds its own – and with the legendary J. Mascis and Flaming Lips man Steven Drozd dropping in en route, its very much a record that fans of 90s alternative sounds will find of interest. Is it a genre classic? Probably not, but there’s a lot here that captures a genuine greatness on tunes that sound better over time. As debut discs go, it’s certainly recommended.

August 2023