Wild Mercury Sound

The People's Temple: "Sons Of Stone"

John Mulvey

The new Black Lips album – produced by Mark Ronson, weirdly – arrived yesterday, and reminded me of a couple of things. First, that I always feel unaccountably guilty for not liking Black Lips records as much as I think I should. And second, I actually have a bunch of good garage records that need writing about.

Foremost among them, I reckon, is “Sons Of Stone”, the debut album by The People’s Temple on Hozac. The People’s Temple come from Lansing, Michigan, but their particular strain of garage seems to be derived from further south, rich as it is with allusions to the blasted Texan psych of the 13th Floor Elevators and at least some of the International Artists label.

As with so many of these contemporary garage bands, The People’s Temple maintain a peculiar and effective balance between incredible diligence, in their recreation of an antique ‘60s sound, and ramshackle spontaneity. Plenty of “Sons Of Stone” captures the bravura and naivety of a bunch of freshmen who’ve just heard, say, Them (“Where You Gonna Go?”) for the first time, or who’ve dedicated themselves to producing a darker analogue to “Paint It, Black” and then accidentally strayed into “Peter Gunn” in the process (the closing “The Surf”).

There are stringy, uncanny echoes of early Love here, too, and, in some of the lysergic twanging lead guitar, surely accidental ones to the first Blur album. On their Myspace, incidentally, The People’s Temple reference The Brian Jonestown Massacre, which I personally find pretty offputting, but “Sons Of Stone” sounds like the most optimistic bits of that band’s rhetoric, rather than the shoey disappointments of their actual music.

The People’s Temple have the thrust and the tunes – the title track and “Axe Man”, especially - to carry them through, so that they don’t sound, like a good few garage bands old and new, that they’re still quaintly grappling with the concept of a longplayer. Off the top of my head, it feels like the garage record I’ve most enjoyed since the last Fresh & Onlys and, especially, Ty Segall’s “Melted”.

I have the new Segall album here (on Drag City), to listen to some more, and also a record by the Cosmonauts that I really should do something on. In the meantime, check out The People’s Temple on the cursed Myspace and let me know what you think.


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