If rock has one feature of shame – though early 80’s Hair Metal, the puffed up melodramatic Rock Ballad, Spandex trousers, cod pieces, the Norwegian Death Metal scene murders, also spring to mind – then it’s the under representation of females in rock’s inveterate genre. Thankfully, in current times we have seen a flock of emerging female talent, Milny Parnaz (Royal Thunder), Harriet Bevan (Black Moth), Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes), Elin Larsson (Blues Pills) to name but a few who are giving a fresh and slightly different angle, both lyrically and auditory, to the middle aged man that is rock. Another name to add to this welcome expanding list is Jillian Taylor of Psychedelic Doomsters Ruby the Hatchet.
Although this is the Philadelphia quintet’s third album they are a debutante to my musical zone. They create a warm fuzzy, psychedelic retro stoner rock aesthetic assisted by Sean Hur’s complementary and unflashy organ. In fact, there isn’t any big extroverted musicianship at play throughout the record. Instead they possess a teamwork ethic to create the amiable textures of their sound. And Jillian’s vocals effortlessly floats and bobbles above the haunting, lazyish, retro feel, which might infuriate those who like the more aggressive and angrier side of rock, but should caress those who appreciate warmer psych doom rock tones.
‘‘Valley of the Snake’’ consists of only six tracks but they are all over the five minutes mark extending to eight minutes on three tracks. ‘Heavy Blanket’ and ‘Vast acid’ contain gigantic hum-along melodic hooks to hang heavy-duty leather biker jackets on. These two tracks bring to mind the more eclectic and expansive Black Mountain, another underrated stoner, psych rock band from the last decade or so. Although ‘Tomorrow never knows’ suffers a bit from it’s meandering plodding, the equally restrained tempo of ‘The unholy behemoth’ slips the same fate due to a picking up of the pace at just the right time. ‘Demons’ best demonstrates Jillian’s quintessential haunting vocals over the Queens of the Stone Age, ‘In my head’ ish, catchy guitar hook. The best is saved to last as the closing title track’s hippy swoon mix of acoustic, electric guitar, and additional flute, delights.
Ruby the Hatchet ‘’Valley of the Snake’s’’ unfussy and cordial textures has produced a seductive grower which is easy on the ear, and also an enjoyable spin.