In The Groove

Various Artists

The Music Cartel, 2003

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Warning: stoner rock is coming back with a vengeance.

I'm not necessarily talking about groups like The Black Crowes who put out music that anyone can listen to, not just those with the funny cigarettes. I'm talking about the rock that was almost meant to be listened to while possessing some kind of devices used for, aah, "self-medication". (Having never tried drugs, I can't speak from experience.)

In The Groove is a compilation of tunes that I would end up classifying as stoner rock, and in the end, it turns out to be a mixed bag, with more positive than negative.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Only a few of the 14 different groups on this compilation are ones I'm even remotely familiar with. On one hand, there's Sheavy, who we reviewed here not terribly long ago. Sounding a lot like vintage Black Sabbath, they were a band who impressed me a lot the last time I heard them. Unfortunately, the cut included on this disc, "Face In The Mirror," isn't on that same level.

On the other hand, there's Raging Slab, who I remember from my days in college radio. Taking on the Mountain classic "Mississippi Queen," they do a version that is pretty much note-for-note, but they don't deliver it convincingly.

Then, there's Terra Firma, another band we recently reviewed, who I don't think could write a song not in the key of D if their lives depended on it. "In Orbit" is further proof. (Would somebody please teach these guys how to transpose?)

Okay, so far the criticism's come flying faster than an octopus being thrown onto the ice at a Red Wings game. There's a lot on In The Groove that's more than merely likeable. Groups like Roachpowder ("Toxic River"), Leadfoot ("Gonna Creep Up On You" sounds a lot like Tool), Nebula ("Full Throttle") and Roadsaw ("Blackout Driver") all show that this flavor of rock can be quite enjoyable to everyone. Possibly my favorite discovery on this disc is Sixty Watt Shamen and their contribution, "Whiskey Neck".

In The Groove is an album that, unfortunately, loses its freshness rather quickly, and that's only because the bulk of this music stays in exactly the same vein. Only at the end, with Altamont's cover of "Rattlesnake Shake," does any real variety creep in, and by then, it's too little, too late.

This is still a disc worth checking out; chances are you'll hear at least a handful of groups that you think are worth further investigation. As for the rest of the disc, approach with a fair amount of caution.

Rating: B-

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