Release Date: Mar 4, 2016
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Psychedelic
Heron Oblivion are a quartet formed a few years ago, but judging by their influences and the infernal racket they create, you’d never know it. The band's self-titled debut LP for Sub Pop worships the free-wheeling guitar era defined by The Stooges, Led Zeppelin, and Crazy Horse - an era where structure took a backseat to playing, and playing as loud as possible. Guitarists Noel Von Harmonson and Charlie Saufley make their acid-washed guitars gargle, howl, yelp and squeal, playing the living shit outta them in the process.
Pentangle with power chords. Curry and chips. Ronnie Corbett and Alice Cooper. Platform boots and drainpipe trousers. Sometimes the most bizarre combinations actually work a treat. Heron Oblivion are a further example.. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads.
There's a moment, early in 'Beneath Fields' where Heron Oblivion teases the listener with a hint of an impending maelstrom. For the first two minutes the track has been locked in a slow, almost meandering groove of quiet reverberated guitar melodies and steady, solid percussion. Amidst this, Meg Baird's hushed voice has brought a pastoral calmness, conjuring an image of "green fields" and countryside scenes not unlike the one depicted on the album's sleeve.
The four members of Heron Oblivion are no strangers to the psychedelic folk-rock underground, having spent time in bands such as Espers, Comets on Fire, Six Organs of Admittance, and Howlin Rain. On their debut album, they strike a balance between delicate, pastoral folk and heavy, loud space rock, with Meg Baird's fragile, wispy vocals sharing the stage with Noel von Harmonson and Charlie Saufley's crushing guitar solos. Baird also doubles as the group's drummer, pounding steady rhythms locked into the groove with Evan Miller's fluid yet powerful bass playing.
If you follow loud guitar music or psychedelic rock with any attention, Heron Oblivion’s self-titled debut LP might trigger a bit of nostalgia for the mid '00s—specifically, the era of Arthur magazine and New Weird America, when Sonic Youth name checked Fleetwood Mac and independent music seemed, however briefly, to become more attuned to old-school cosmic energies. At the time, bands like Comets on Fire, Six Organs of Admittance, Dead Meadow, and OM were ascendant, drawing both from underground American noise music and vintage psychedelic rock. The music was familiar, but strange and extreme—drawing from the past, but not overly reverential of it.
Fusing an oddball combination of Albion dirge and early San Francisco psychedelia comes naturally to Heron Oblivion. Ethan Miller and Noel Von Harmison were members of Comets On Fire, guitarist Charlie Saufley rocked a West Coast mood in Assemble Head In Sunburnt Sound while drummer and vocalist Meg Baird was in East Coast ensemble Vespers where her mutant Grace Slick-meets- Pentangle took their pastoral noise into the ether. The ingredients work again on this seven-track introduction.
If Sandy Denny and Crazy Horse dropped acid together, Heron Oblivion might result. Constructed of parts from Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Comets on Fire, and Howlin Rain, the eponymous San Francisco quartet drowns ethereal folk melodies in a cauldron of distortion and feedback. Drummer/singer Meg Baird's got the fortitude, letting her voice float blissfully over Noel V.
Heron Oblivion —Heron Oblivion (Sub Pop)Psychedelia is fueled by twin urges which don’t naturally overlap. First, there’s the retreat into the simple and pastoral: you can be a child. The other, reaching for the outer limits, says you can be a god. One direction can get cutesy, the other can descend into chaos.
The Upshot: One of the strongest debut albums in recent memory, it’s like Neil Young & Crazy Horse if the Bevis Frond’s Nick Saloman joined to kick Young’s ass. All of us in the business of musical obsessions have our dream mashups, whether it be members of certain bands working together or a genre clash you’ve always thought made sense. Heron Oblivion, the debut LP by the band of the same name, offers up a blend of elements you didn’t realize you always wanted.
Sometimes music finds its essential strength from the containment of two opposite forces within it. But a band needs discipline and concentration to pull that off. Heron Oblivion, a quartet from the San Francisco Bay Area, seems to have it. This is a rock band with interests pointing pretty clearly toward the inward-focused music of the late 1960s and 1970s, loud and soft, ecstatic and hermetic.