Whatever half-assed excuses they may come up with, the cold, hard fact is Sons of Otis' 2009 release, Exiled, was a total creative cop-out; one that lazily matched uninspired dilutions of the Canadian trio's highly personalized space-sludge sound with largely forgettable leftover tracks poached from previous mini-releases for a yawn-inducing listening experience. And this after a four-year lapse since 2005's far more satisfying X, which itself followed another long hiatus encompassing the group's painfully protracted separation from longtime label the Music Cartel, and linkup with new backers, Small Stone. So could anyone be blamed for assuming that Otis was probably reaching the final, basement levels of their long career shaft? Well, hope to the contrary springs anew with the arrival of 2012's much improved Seismic, a sonically familiar (make that identical -- Otis don't change), yet gratefully re-energized expedition into the sticky sonic fudge achievable through the magical communion of an Orange amplifier and a Superfuzz distortion pedal. In fact, not since 1999's arguably career-topping Temple Ball album have Sons of Otis sounded this motivated, such is the heightened intensity (and shorter lengths, why not?) displayed by "Far from Fine" (featuring the telling lyric: "Here I go again, nothing's gonna change"), "Guilt," and "Never in My Life" (so assertive you wonder at first if it's a cover). Armed with more nuanced psychedelic feedback swirls and oftentimes restrained vocals from Ken Baluke (not just his trademarked echoing growls), the self-mocking "Lessons" repeatedly asks "when will I learn?," thus reinforcing its hooks into the stoned listener's remaining brain cells, like many other cuts contained here. Heck, even the token droning instrumental cosmic jam, "PK," feels more compelling in this context, and we haven't even mentioned the concluding (yet not quite as memorable) song that's actually called "Cosmic Jam"! In short, seems there's a little more life than expected left in this old warhorse, and maybe even a second lease on life for Sons of Otis if they put what's left of their minds to it.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia