Haight Ashbury – Here In The Golden Rays
Review by Jack Foley
WE’VE been raving about Glaswegian trio Haight Ashbury since the turn of the year, when their Favourite Song EP was hastily turned into a record of the week.
Since then, they’ve continued to thrill with tracks like Freeman Town and their appealing mix of psychedelic folk, which juxtaposes haunting lead vocals against baroque pop songs and hazy psychedelic elements.
The full length album, Here In The Golden Rays, seems to have taken an age in arriving but, thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. Rather, it enforces the belief that this band is one of Scotland’s best kept secrets.
Admittedly, you have to dig the psychedelic folk scene to truly get them, while their formula for success is such that songs don’t deviate too much from a tried and tested formula. The 12 songs that comprise the LP are also quite lengthy, leading to the odd moment when they threaten to overstay their welcome (particularly by the time you reach bloated final track £ Song Suite.
But in the main, this is a brilliant collection of songs that more than fulfil the early promise shown in the singles.
The band take their name from the ’60s hippie mecca in San Francisco and are comprised of Kirsty (bass, vocals), Scott (guitar, sitar) and Jen (drums, vocals). They readily admit to a fond appreciation for the flower power musical era, as well as a West Coast vibe that’s easy to get down with.
Hence, album opener and former single Freeman Town sets things rolling in exemplary fashion… the guitars sounding like a throwback to Jesus & Mary Chain era instrumentation, with the odd trippy detour, and a lush, if haunting, set of female vocals.
Mothers Ruin adds more fire to the riffs and a greater sense of urgency that immediately lets you know the singles were no fluke, while Molitof mixes sitar licks with acoustic chords to winning effect, before Sympathetic Strings hits you with chanted vocals, a great drum beat and some lush sitar riffs and tambourine percussion that’s truly unique. It’s an easy highlight.
There’s a touch of the Dandy Warhols in the guitar work on Preacher, which teases and tempts the listener for about two minutes, before finally blossoming into a baroque pop moment of genuine majesty… while Alphalpha does the same for about a minute and a half before really hitting you with some stupendous wall of sound riffs, drums and percussion elements that, dare I say, even reminded me of classic Stone Roses (a la Waterfall) mixed with The Mamas & The Papas.
Don’t Let Your Music Die, on the other hand, flirts outrageously with the vibe of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper, as well as classic Fleetwood Mac, and Favourite Song drops a Dandy Warhols vibe… and is a blissful album highlight to rival Freeman Town.
Further gems come from the breezy psychedelic pop of Million Man March, the kooky, country-inflicted 3 Little Birds (which arrives complete with tweeting birds), and the harmony-laden Beauty, which again takes a while to find its stride before washing over you with a serene beauty befitting its title.
Haight Ashbury may not be a name that’s dropping from everyone’s lips at the moment, and they may be destined for cult ‘best kept secret’ status, but they offer a rich discovery for anyone willing to take a chance on them.
Here In The Golden Rays positively radiates with quality.
Download picks: Freeman Town, Favourite Song, Sympathetic Strings, Mothers Ruin, Alpalpha, Don’t Let Your Music Die, 3 Little Birds