Local Love: PuraPharm
Leon casino, Photo: ARExpressions
I have to say that so far, 2015 is shaping up to be a good one with all of the stellar music I’m hearing from local acts. What I’m really loving is all of the genre mixing that I’m seeing, that blur the lines of what pigeonholes creativity. One of those acts who seems to do things their own way, is Houston’s PuraPharm. Consistently, this five piece gets called psych when they’re closer to nineties British post new wave, mixed with so many other genres that it’s difficult to add them all. However, rather than focus on what one person says or doesn’t, I feel like with this eclectic five piece; the music is what you should focus on. After some time of planning when to release material, the group chose 2015 as the proper time to drop a four song EP, simply titled “PuraPharm.” There’s so much to be said within the four tracks, that the biggest downfall to the EP, is that there’s not more of it.
The release is opened by the epic and grandiose sounds of “Medicine Girl” where all of the band’s elements make their presence known within the first minute of the song’s existence. The layered guitars that sound like keys intertwined with a light drum track that have Paul’s bass drip notes of thick undertones before the horn of Niki Sims slides in and out. This is all met by the bold and outfront vocals of lead singer Tessa Kole. The song, clocking in at a hair shy of six and a half minutes isn’t attempting to be radio friendly; but does sound like a song you’d open a live set with. Though the basic elements of vocals, two guitars, bass, drums, and horns are all present; their use is layered without being overbearing. The song closes with various soundscapes of notes and an almost godlike effect on the vocals. The band takes an almost 180 degree turn on the second track, “Sleep In The Water,” which opens with a basic piano and light synth arrangements. Kole meets these sounds with her basic but still attention grabbing vocals. The whole song has heavy use of effects and synths, but it doesn’t shy from the band’s original sound. The guitar work is the main focus of the song, that has an electronic sounding drum kit feeling to the beats that pepper throughout.
The third song, “100% Pure” opens with synths, a feedback guitar, a multi-layered guitar, and a strong drum and bass mixture that move the song along at a groove that hits past the one minute mark with ease. The song has a very Depeche Mode “Songs of Faith and Devotion” era feel to it. However, that only lasts briefly as the track quickly takes on a Cocteau Twins meets Lush feeling. The feedbacked and multi-layered guitars that hum in the background from guitarist Davis Jumper that are kept in sequence by Tessa’s vocals and Daniel Haymes plunky drums create a sound that’s of another place. This becomes unworldly with repeated horn parts and a neverending layering that dazzles your ears throughout the jammed out track. The fourth and final song, “I’ll Make The Wind Blow” had a little too overly synthy opening for me. However this was quickly recovered with a more early era Skinny Puppy drum sound coupled with a thick vocal track from Kole. The song is the most thick and layered, but also the most simplistic sounding song of the four.
The EP comes to a quick end, which again, is really the biggest downfall of it. The four songs represent a band who has taken influences from psych, nineties era Brit pop, and new wave to form and create their own sound. There’s more happening on each song than I can even describe. In the time that I had with the release, I found something different each time I listened to each song. The diverse and eclectic nature that PuraPharm employs to convey the simplistic manner in which their sound appears on its face; makes the allure to whatever this EP is a prelude to that much more attractive. You can catch PuraPharm raise the bar on what you’d call psych rock, as well as grab your own copy of the EP when they perform at their album release party on February 13th. Taking place in the Studio at Warehouse Live, the band will perform alongside Jealous Creatures, Casual Strangers, and Glass The Sky at the all ages show.