Review – The Hanna Barbarians – SYZYGY
Captain Beyond, it’s not just a great and influential band from the 70’s, it’s also the name of a great blog where I discovered The Hanna Barbarians. Now I’m sucker for a good psychedelic blues rock album. Bands like Radio Moscow, Graveyard, The Heavy Eyes and Henry’s Funeral Shoe make my listening pleasure that much easier. Imagine my surprise when I read Captain Beyond’s own Bandcamp Recommendations. I was blown away.
The Hanna Barbarians were formed in Fort Worth, TX by Raef Payne, Alex Zobel, Tyler Fleming, Mickey Hensel, and Jay Cooper in the Winter of 2009. The group was originally an informal collective of musicians who were writing material in the House of the Rising Sun. The band acquired vocalist Blake Parish who opened as a solo act at their first show. Parish provided the vocals that finally put The Hanna Barbarians on the right level. After working with several instrumentalists including a keyboard player, viola player, trombone player and new bassist, The
Hanna Barbarians eventually found their most comfortable line up and recorded their first full length album, Syzygy (2011), as Blake Parish (vocals, harmonica), Alex Zobel (guitar, vocals), Raef Payne (guitar, vocals), Tyler Fleming (drums, percussion), Chris Evans (bass), and Kris Luther (guitar, percussion, mandolin, etc.). Syzygy was recorded on 1 inch tape with Robby Baxter at RedStar Recording Studio in Arlington Texas. They have since received praise for both their studio album and their energetic stage show by the FW Weekly and are nominated for “Best Live Show” and “Rock Album of the Year.”
SYZYGY is a psych blues album through and through. It does have a few mellower parts like “Trudy” which has a Rolling Stones vibe to it vocally and instrumentally or “Heatstroke” which has a bit of an alternative feel to it but psych blues is where it’s at. The opening track “Hair of the Dog” will get you bobbing your head to the catchy riffs, tone and lyrics. “13” is heavy, bluesy and fuzzy. I like the sexual overtones in the lyrics. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not but “Porcelain Rooster” has a distinct sound and tone to it that reminds me of “Five to One” by The Doors.
It’s hard to believe that the album was recorded on 1″ tape as the sound is so much bigger than that. SYZYGY’s sound is huge. It’s got great production, awesome vocals and a bunch of guys that really know how to write and record good music. In a world where’s it’s crowded with tons of bands, lots of music and not enough time, It’s nice to find some standouts in the crowd with the Hanna Barbarians being one of them. Stream the album below and get your physical goodies from the band HERE.