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Rumbling out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, stoner rockers Blue Heron makes a strong impression on their debut LP Ephemeral. Frontdude Jadd Shickler ran seminal stoner rock label MeteorCity back in the day (and runs its spiritual successor Blues Funeral now), as well as fronting Spiritu, his state’s contribution to the canon, so clearly he knows what he’s doing. His warm growl fronts a wall of lush grunge and powerhouse polyrhythms, all in service of songs that are more than sets of riffs stitched together. Tunes like “Salvage,” “Black Blood of the Earth” and “Push the Sky” revel in their low-tuned roil, but do it with attention paid to melodies that stick to the ribs more than the usual meat-and-potatoes weed metal. Guitarist Mike Chavez (also a Spiritu vet) keeps the music colorful, sometimes retreating to minimalist arpeggios and space rock textures to offset the ribcage rattling crunge – and check out the acoustic Southwesternisms of instrumental “Where One Went Together.” But drummer Ricardo Sanchez steals the show, using his kit to avoid the lumbering rhythms so prevalent in the scene by affecting an altogether more graceful (and energetic) pound. Given all that it has going for it, Ephemeral is superior stoner rock.
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