Despite first impressions, it is neither accurate nor fair to tag the Witches as rock ’n’ roll retro vaudevillians. We could rattle off lazy, stream-of-consciousness adjectives and knee-jerk comparisons all day long and it still won’t bring the essence of the band into focus. The Witches can be moody, erratic, joyful and destructive all at once. The band has the ability to evoke the spiritual shadow of any number of A-list rock and pop culture trailblazers from the mid-’60s to present. But it still doesn’t form a conclusion; behind the smoke and mirrors of reverb and delay the essence of the songs themselves will still be something of a mystery. When singer Troy Gregory asks “Who wants to dream at my birthday party everyday?” (“who wants 2 sleep with the birthday grrrl”) the soporific strangeness of the song’s lyrics are accepted without question. Gregory can be howling and ranting about something that, out of context, seems like irreverent nonsense, and his sleight of hand as a songwriter works again and again.
And while the listener follows Gregory On Parade, the details of the record prove equally stunning after a number of listens. Johnny Na$hinal and Eugene Strobe are constantly adding essential subtleties on guitar. The use of vocal effects and overall feel of the songs demonstrate a band that is more evolved than the one that appeared on their earlier effort, Universal Mall. Without a doubt On Parade shows the Witches as a rock ’n’ roll band every bit as deserving as the more notorious of their hometown brethren.
E-mail Helen Park at [email protected].