Local Love: Sik Mule
The beauty of Houston’s music scene is that there a couple of strong contenders in pretty much every genre, for acts that could go further than the confines of our area codes. In the blues rock category though, you have your work cut out for you. If you’re a band that’s hailing from the same streets that Dusty, Billy, and Frank call home, then you’re really up against the rails. Luckily for Houston three piece Sik Mule, that’s not a problem. Playing what they call “swamp rock,” these three make a sound that echoes early ZZ Top and Black Keys without sounding like direct copies of either. This Friday at Raven Tower they’ll drop their new album, the aptly self-titled Sik Mule. In eight songs these guys cover all the blues rock bases while still forging their own path into a sound that’s gritty, raw, and as muddy as the floor of the Rio Grande river.
They don’t waste time in leading with their best foot on the fuzz heavy sounds of Ball & Chain. Full of swag and that muddy fuzz that made Houston famous, the band quickly lays it down in an in your face and straightforward manner. All of the elements that you want in a rock band are at the forefront as the drums pop like you want while the bass and guitar form a bond that never lapses. Even the vocals take a backseat to the bombastic nature in which the band performs. They follow this with a little slower but just as equally powerful track on Mighty Man. That murky Black Keys sound that defined Turn Blue where the guitar sounds closer to an organ kicks the pace of the song off. They cut through that with distorted guitar and upfront vocals that make you forget about any comparisons to another band. The third track, picks up the pace on The Conqueror, where the band brings in a much faster opening before they have an almost Lynyrd Skynyrd sound. The sounds of the South fall all over the song, and even when the vocals go into a more scream fueled manner, the song never deters from its Southern roots.
The band slows things down and takes the album into a more groove heavy vibe on the following track, Selfie Nation. It’s funny how in many ways the song pulls from places like early Black Sabbath while this Southern blues sensation permeates it all. No matter how far these three deter from what you’d expect, they bring you back with a deeply Southern sound that’s inescapable. The closer bar of the song is where they stretch their legs with a more seventies rock feeling complete with a jam heavy pace and drums that snap like you want them to. I wish I could tell you that they slow things down on Winston Wolf, but they ultimately go deeper on the fifth track. A chunkier riff and upfront drums overpower the bass at times, but aside from that, the song adds a little spice to an already heated album. While they take a step back and take you down a murky rabbit hole on the trippy and atmospheric sounding song The Fall Down, the track really just feels like you’re stoned at Monterey Pop while Jimi plays in the background. When the drums and bass hop to life on the slower speed of the track, they do so with plenty of energy and snap.
While the trio goes into a little Spanish influenced sound on La Diabla, it’s the closing track Mi Salida that might make you have a flashback. The psych heavy song is dripping with LSD induced sounds while standing apart from what the other seven songs offer up. The jam band nature of the song alongside the soft howling vocals that glide atop the instruments really shows the depth these three have together. When the album finishes off, you want to take another listen, or in the least get up and get going. In eight songs Sik Mule advances their sound while they experiment with notes and hints of resonance that might alter what you think of blues rock bands. You can grab your own copy of their new album Sik Mule, when the band performs at their album release party on Friday May 27th at Raven Tower. The all ages show will also feature sets from HandomeBeast, A Tribute To The Sun, as well as DJ sets from Guilla and Mark Drew. The doors are at 6 pm and it’s 100% FREE.