I caught Tijuana Bibles at this year’s Savifest at The Glasgow Barrowland and was immediately impressed by their sound. They looked and sounded the part, at ease on a stage of that size and confidently tearing through their half hour set. Their blues-infused psychedelic vibe worked well live and sounded at home ringing around the venue. Naturally I gave them a listen as soon as I got home and reviewed their E.P Wild River.
Some mellow blues guitar, walking bass lines and solid vocal harmonies set the tone for E.P opener ‘Last Of The Go Getters’. It reminds me of what I love on Arctic Monkey’s AM (the Tijuana Bibles’ E.P was out 5 months before) – that stripped back, dirty feel; fuzzy guitars and drum and bass charging on behind the rest of the band. The whispering during the break is certainly something different and teamed with the slow burning guitar work and tapping tambourine builds into a great musical break to close things off.
‘Howling Moon’ opens with some swelling feedback and bursts into a foot-stomping rhythm piece with a warm layer of jingle-jangle guitar work. This is very much the sound of a band confident and comfortable with what they are doing, really embracing their sound. The driving drums and bass shoulder the song really well and let the guitars do their thing – an explosive multi-layered chorus nearly had me singing along – and I didn’t even know the words. I particularly enjoyed that the track didn’t go where I thought it would; from the first verse it would have been obvious to explode into a big guitar-backed chorus but it swerves into a smooth psychedelic path before resuming into the foot-stomping rhythm. The backing vocals are excellent too and show what can be achieved with some well planned placements. Some subtle keys in the background fade the track out over some screeching feedback which reminded me of an Inspiral Carpets/Happy Mondays style psych-rock outro.
‘Wild River’ brings back that dirty blues feel and warm guitar with an absolutely brilliant hook. This track was magnificent live with perfect vocals all round and I really enjoyed hearing it again here. The track has a real swagger to it with distorted bass driving beside the energetic drums, chunky guitars and the aforementioned excellent hook. Sounding as strong as any track from bands selling out venues, this is an absolute must-hear. The “Wild River carry me home” outro signs and seals this off with aplomb.
Final track ‘Runnin’ Red Fruit’ starts with some excellent brass and rockets off, never slowing down for the duration. Frantic drumming and distorted bass lines combine with stabbing-sharp guitars, multi-tracked vocals and all combine into a huge sing-along chorus. There’s a very short bass break which reminded me of The Who’s My generation, short enough to make you want more, which leads into building guitar work and then an impressive thrash around the drums before closing off the E.P in Tijuana Bibles fashion – no messing around, build it up and up and stop dead. Magnificent.
But it’s not over yet. In hidden track ‘Midnight In Mars’ the band showcase that psychedelic vibe, instantly relaxing but with guitar work to show their intentions and a bass line so chilled it’s hard not to close your eyes and lean back for the duration. The distorted lead guitar layering over the track creates a memorable close that’s very different to what’s out there at the moment. Closing with an instrumental is always a sign of a confident band, particularly on an E.P where some bands rush to get their sound out there quickly. Tijuana Bibles have no such issue. Their point is well and truly made throughout the E.P.