You’re riding down the dirt roads of the American Midwest with no fixed destination. A convoy of motorbikes and Chevy trucks barrelling across a network of roads patching through the fields and farms and small towns long capturing the imagination of thousands before you. Books, novellas, films, and a plethora of songs have documented such journeys across the heartland for longer than you could possibly imagine; now it is your turn to join them, not to discover yourself but to discover for yourself. And your soundtrack? Out from the stereo comes nothing but some of the finest music the bygone era of the ’60s and ’70s had to offer: CCR, The Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Flying Burritos Bros. Joining this epic rotation comes the third album from Texas’ very own Crypt Trip, a joyous incarnation of country and Southern rock to power your drive through Haze County.
It’s barely been fourteen months since the trio of Ryan Lee, Cameron Martin, and Sam Bryant blessed psych-heads worldwide with their sophomore release Rootstock, a cosmic blend of a darker psychedelia with the roots sound now running rampant on their follow-up. A stripped back and ultimately brighter record, Haze County is a sun-tinged breath of fresh air, the kind of fresh air following a heavy rainstorm, basking in a summer heat and is perfectly accompanied with a cold beer. With guest performances from pedal steel icon Geoff Queen adding a spark of Texan magic to their retro sound, the album feels unapologetically honest and as raw as the earth between their toes; it’s as if a huge weight has been lifted from their collective shoulders. Free from restraint they barrel down the Southern landscape with caustic energy and euphoric glee – and we cannot help but follow hot on their heels.
Embracing the legendary sounds of those who exploded minds some four/five decades before, there is something exciting about the record which separates itself from the band’s back catalogue still fresh in our memories. It’s breezy, fleeting even, yet very grounded and focused. Whilst songs like ‘Hard Times’ and ‘To Be Whole’ will no doubt please those deeply entrenched afficionados in the stoner scene the magic truly explodes in the rock’n’roll breakout of ‘Free Rain’, where Lee’s frenetic vocals are sharper than ever before, and the sublime Allman Bros-worshiping compositions ‘Forward’ and ’16 Ounce Blues’. Capping off their impressive platter is the jubilant ‘Gotta Get Away’, which slowly devolves into an unmissable jazzy drum fill, one which perfectly sums up Crypt Trip’s attitude on this recording: bold, confident, and vibrant.
Recorded at Cibilo Studios in San Antonio, Crypt Trip have ensured their nostalgic flare comes across with as much authenticity as possible with nothing lost in the tubes and analogue equipment; their sound is remarkably organic and warm, more so than either of the album’s predecessors. With an album cover befitting the more straightforward yet no-less dynamic approach Haze County is as pure a rock album as any have come before it, with no superfluous overshoots and no hidden surprises to boot. Despite its bluntness there is no shortage of highly enjoyable moments to be found here, making for a delightful departure from the mushrooming scene of cosmic psych rock. Recommended for roadtrips, summer gatherings, barbecues, or just to lighten up the day whatever the weather.
Out on Heavy Psych Sounds.