Fevered California desert tripping, pictured from the darkest, stickiest Tennessee swamp.
Cosmic Country? Psychedelic Americana? West Coast Indie? Electric Swamp Rock (I might have just made that genre up)? Still, whichever peg Tommy and The Ohs choose to hang their hat(s) on, it’s a fine and dandy style of hat that they wear. Or they could choose to leave it on the back of the listening couch and let us decide. So let’s do just that.
Tommy Oliverio is the Tommy in question. He’s ostensibly a Nashville-based producer, but his ears and mind are rooted somewhere in the desert outside Barstow, CA. Though Tommy and his passengers have been driving for miles, hours even, and all they’ve seen is cacti and gas stations. And a swamp. One great big sticky, folksy swamp. Which, admittedly, is a rare find in the California desert. Luckily, they’ve also found some old mix tapes (or possibly mix 8-Tracks) in the foot well of the car. Hopefully that’s enough of a wordsy picture painted for those just joining us on the listening couch. We’ve only just started, so make yourselves comfortable. Tommy has nine tracks for us, so there’s plenty more to listen to.
Opener ‘Bombshell’ is dripping with echo and harmony. A wave of indie/psych, barely distinguishable lyrics, something’s happening ‘in my brain’ and a twisted Ray Manzarek-esque Hammond attack means that whatever is happening probably isn’t for the best. Tommy sings like a super relaxed version of Bobby Gillespie (but, unlike Gillespie, Tommy stays in tune). ‘U Make Me Go’ is Sixties beat group rock n roll, replete with oo la la’s, but Tommy’s psychedelic swamp ensures that it’s more of a fevered dream than a teen heart-throb paean. ‘Hoodoo’ is a six minute feature. It’s from the heat of the highway – Dennis Wilson and Dennis Hopper on the two lane blacktop. Jim Morrison and his Doors flying past, heading back towards Los Angeles. An expanse of blues riffs and Hammond swirls.
Closer ‘Seperation Blue’ has a honky-tonk piano in the engine room of a short, light, upbeat track. The desert trip may have finished (for now anyway) and things are getting a little clearer and more sanguine in Tommy’s mind.
This is an engaging, off-beat journey. Tommy (and his Ohs) are careering between the desert and the swamp, but they’re looking up at the stars!