Sometimes, you have to learn to be happy exactly where you are. And, thankfully, once in a blue moon, musical acts like Axxa/Abraxas emerge and remind me again why I’m so proud to be living in Athens, Georgia. The project of University of Georgia alum Ben Asbury is a unique blend of music and art that never ceases to inspire with its melting pot of 60s pop, 70s psych and post-punk. On March 4, all of this wonderment culminates in the release of Axxa / Abraxas’ self-titled debut album.
I suggest starting with the album’s first two singles (below), “I Almost Fell” and “On The Run”, especially if you’re a little weary of heavy psychedelia. Their sound is quite different from the rest of the album, yet still fits ideally between the other eight tracks. “I Almost Fell” is what would happen if A Flock of Seagulls was transported to the 70s, while “On The Run” dips deeper into straight rock n’ roll. This track is simultaneously reminiscent of the Doors and today’s surf punk bands – an odd but strangely satisfying combination.
The rest of the record proves to be much more expectedly 70s, a lot more lyrically inclined. “Ryan Michalak (Is Coming To Town)” opens the album in an instrumental haze of violin before jumping into a fuzzy-voiced tale about – what else – an old friend returning. Harder tracks like “So Far Away” make me feel like I’ve turned on an old Cream record, while more thoughtful tunes like “Painted Blue” tell me, “Close your eyes so your mind can see.” Groovy, no?
If at all possible, try to pick up a physical copy of the album – Asbury was in part picked up by the Captured Tracks label because of his demos’ stunning D.I.Y. silkscreen art. But don’t take too long eyeing this inevitably gorgeous cover art. You’ll want to get to listening to this psych masterpiece, stat.