You can take the band out of the west coast, but you can’t take the west coast out of the band.
Nashville-based, from the Bay Area by way of Eugene, Oregon, psych-rockers Bluphoria are releasing their highly anticipated full-length debut, self-titled record on May 5th via Edgeout/UME/UMG.
The quartet of Reign LaFreniere (Guitar/Vocals), Dakota Landrum (Guitar/Vocals), Rex Wolf (Bass/Vocals), and Dani Janae (Drums) first came onto our radar with their release of the blistering “Conscientious Debauchery” and we couldn’t get enough. As expected, Bluphoria is no different.
The eleven-rack record is exactly what we’d hoped, and then some. Each track is a tightly packed ball of energy that makes you feel understood while lifting you up at the same time. West-coast fundamental rock and roll anchoring to blues roots elements and, dare I say, a slight nod to modern mod rock sensibilities exist throughout. Hints of surfer rock (“Walk Through The Fire”) are paired down with tenacity (“Columbia”) throughout the record. The album exists in an octave that soars above the gritty, grinding rock we experience all too often. In doing so, it allows itself to feel fresh and relatable. Bluphoria harnesses that feeling of a summer that defines a little bit of you and lives warmly in your memory forever. Overall blues concepts are driven through an effects pedal with the amp turned way up, swelling on the shredding vocal of LaFreniere and tight transitions of Landrum, Wolf, and Janae. The dynamic shift around the mid-point, “Something More” is quite evident. Blues-forward attitude gives way to melting licks, carrying us through the end. Only to have us run back to the beginning and start it all over again (seriously, I’ve listened to this at least a dozen times).
The success of Bluphoria’s debut full-length is in its honesty and self-awareness. As LaFreniere puts it, “Rock ‘n’ roll started as a black art pioneered by black men and women. I’m taking my people’s music back. We’re reframing it together in our way. The rhythm is the focal point. The blues is in there. Rock ‘n’ roll is definitely not dying.” Tethered to love song sentiments sprinkled throughout that refuse to hide behind a depressed veil, instead opting for an infectious energy, even with the mellow ending of “Ms. Jones,” simply put, this is a genuinely great rock album. It may seem a foreign concept to the younger generation, but Bluphoria is the kind of record I’m excited to buy at my local record store and they are on my must-see live list.