Rosetta West

X Descendant

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Actually putting the slogan "Savage and Psychedelic Blues" at the top of one's album cover art isn't perhaps the best of moves -- at the very least, one has to live up to the billing. And do Rosetta West? Pretty well, but maybe not the way intended. The blues part of the equation is the most correct part of it all, at least in the late-'60s/early-'70s electrified sense, and if one really likes either that or the various revivals or reinterpretations since, then X Descendant will likely be a treat. Lead guy Joseph Demagore handles production as well as vocals and guitar and actually has a pretty good ear for subtle touches in the arrangements -- a bit of reverb on his solos to add depth, making sure his singing doesn't drown out the band. Sometimes it can disrupt it -- the band hits a pretty good groove on "The Flag," but often the vocals are the least interesting part -- but most of the time it's just fine, and thankfully he betrays no interest in endless wank solos. So much for the blues, but savage and psychedelic, that's up to the beholder. Rough and harsh and not designed to be pretty or a sellout (however defined), sure; the band is clearly not out to recast the Yardbirds circa "For Your Love," say, while the cover of Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over" glowers rather than parties. Psychedelic, not much outside of the closing zone/drone fest of "Return to Inferno" -- arguably there's a semi-connection to acid folk's fractured weirdness in the acoustic-based numbers, but the key feeling is less a trip and more blunt obsessiveness -- the menacing crawl of "Slow Train," and the nursery rhyme-gone-unsettled conclusion of "Vampire Song." X Descendant succeeds on its own merits rather than those suggested for it, and that's not a bad place to be.

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