While the band Turkey Vulture are experienced veterans of the scene, having been involved in a plethora of other projects, there’s something youthful and refreshing about their approach on their latest EP Time To Pay. Sure, some of it could be attributed to the sick Satan’s¹ high school notebook style cover art, but it mostly comes through the duo’s care-free abandon of genre bounds. The EP runs the gamut stoner metal, doom, alt rock, Americana, and blues rock, but there’s also a strong punk (I’m gonna use the annoying music journalist word here) ethos (see, not too painful right?) that underlies all four tracks.
The first half of the EP can lazily be summed up as stoner doom meets Americana. My handy-dandy press notes tell me that the cello that opens the EP is playing the 19th century sea chantey “Rolling Down to Old Maui.” Accompanied by creaking wood and a light drum pattern, this intro sets the “Lost at Sea” vibes as advertised. From there the duo breaks into a grooving riff that answers the age-old question “what if Red Fang were like, on a boat?” Axewomen/vocalist Jessie May gracefully switches between a haunting rasp and commanding bellows in the verses and choruses respectively. These curveballs, combined with a punky bridge and a doomy outro make for an engaging listen from start to finish!
The opening track hints at two great things about this EP. First, how great is that raw production? The real winners are the organic, farm-to-table fuzz guitar and that super snappy snare. Jim Clegg’s powerful, driving drumwork is fortunately not lost underneath all that fuzz. The second thing this song gives a preview of is all of the bass solos! I have to admit my bias here, being a bass player myself. Nevertheless, it’s always cool when they’re done right given how hard it is to make bass solos work and stand out in the context of dense rock/metal songs.
“Age of Resistance” starts with May delivering a cool verse that reminds me of John Darnielle of Mountain Goats fame. If I were a richer man, I would commission Turkey Vulture to do a doom puk Mountain Goats covers album. But alas, Burnt Coffee Inc. is not the profitable company we purport to be at shareholders meetings… Anyways, the song is inspired by the new Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The harsh vocals here are what I’d imagine a Skeksis would sound like fronting a rock band – but I swear, I 100% mean that as a compliment! And of course there’s a rad bass solo too. Maybe it’s just because the solo section is in F major, but the bass here sounds very Californication-era Flea. Finally, this song serves as a reminder that I need to get my shit together and watch the new Netflix Dark Crystal series!
The second half of the EP is more punk meets blues rock. Your enjoyment of this half will depend on your tolerance of campiness. Admittedly, this is not my forte, but I can appreciate when it’s done well. With that, I found “Old Nick” much more successful than its predecessor “Daddy’s Roving Eye”. “Old Nick” features a classic horror punk riff and another cool bass solo. Oh, and a cowbell too! This track was a solid choice to close the EP with. “Daddy’s Roving Eye” is unfortunately a bit too ploddy. It never fully gets comfortable in the leather jacket and sunglasses combo it’s trying to pull off. Plus there’s no bass solo, so minus 10 points there (or however the Burnt Coffee Advanced Scoring Algorithm™ works).
Still, what’s important is I found Time to Pay to be a fun listen! And more importantly, the duo sounds like they had fun making it, and it really shows. So with all that said, won’t you join in on the fun and give this EP a spin?
Turkey Vulture’s EP Time to Pay was released on July 31st.
Best Tracks: Age of Resistance, Lost at Sea
Weakest Tracks: Daddy’s Roving Eye
FFO: Clutch, Kylesa, Lord Buffalo
Overall Score: B
¹The artwork was actually drawn by drummer Jim Clegg. I’m not insinuating here that he is satan, but I’m also not not insinuating that…