Mirror Queen

Scaffolds of the Sky

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Stoner rock tends to thrive in places where musicians have room to spread out -- California, Texas, and the Midwest, for instance -- which may explain why New York City's bringers-of-the-heavy Mirror Queen take a different approach than most of their reefer-addled peers. On their second album, 2015's Scaffolds of the Sky, Mirror Queen close out the set with a cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "Wings Wetted Down," and the glossier, artful big-city mysteries of BÖC's classic period seem to have made a serious impact on Mirror Queen's style (as did the trippiness and electronic overlays of Hawkwind, another acknowledged MQ influence). Mirror Queen sound precise where many '70s-obsessed stoner bands are willing to get a little loose, and if the tunes sound a bit doomstruck, the band manages to give them clean surfaces to go along with the towering guitars (from Kenny Kreisor, Philippe Ortanez, and on four tunes Thomas Bellier) and relentless drumming (by Jeremy O'Brien). Like BÖC, Mirror Queen seemingly want to be a thinking man's heavy band, and they know how to play this stuff with impressive chops and thoughtful style. But they also tend to meander a bit, even by the standards of the stoner genre, and the nine-minute "Strangers in Our Own Time" sounds like it's marching in circles by the halfway point. Mirror Queen may be solid players with brains to boot, but they haven't quite figured out how to write songs that connect if you're not sunk deep into a resinous state, though they come closest on "Vagabondage," which revs up with enough energy and forward velocity to plow through any resistance. Some guys want to think while they rock, but a lot more want to rock without having to contemplate life's unanswered questions, and while Mirror Queen should be commended for trying to do both at once, the ambition ends up being better than the result on Scaffolds of the Sky.

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