by Fred Mills
Not content to simply sit back and rack up a mountain of press kudos for its explosive live show and a razor-sharp 2000 debut Are You Green?, the Sights now deliver the kind of knockout punch that leaves the listener staggered, raving and drooling. It’s like a virtual history tour of both Nuggets box sets, equal parts classic American garage-psych and moddish UK lysergic thump — with a few ace surprises to boot.
Guitarist/vocalist Eddie Baranek and bassist Mark Leahey, along with new drummer Dave Shettler (ex-Moods For Moderns), recorded Got What We Want last winter at Jim Diamond’s Ghetto Recorders; since then organist Nate Cavalieri has joined the lineup. (Full disclosure: Cavalieri is a soon-to-exit employee of this publication, but as I am a freelancer writing from my home deep in Appalachia, his many veiled e-mail threats have not influenced me in any way. The packages crammed with Peruvian blow and crisp new $20 bills were a nice touch, though.)
Got What We Want kicks off with a sweet slice of British Invasion pop, “Don’t Want You Back,” which recalls the overt power-pop fixation displayed on the previous album; Hollies-like vocal harmony twists, cowbell-fueled percussion and far-out backward-guitar effects make it an instant genre classic. And the hits keep coming.
“Be Like Normal” suggests a cross between the Standells and the Nazz, while the twangy/jangly “It’d Be Nice (To Have You Around)” prompts dear memories of Badfinger (not to mention a certain other fab foursome). “Got What I Want,” written by Shettler (Baranek pens the bulk of the band’s material), rips a page from the old “Tobacco Road” songbook and rams it through a Yardbirds/Creation funnel. And the woozy psychedelic goo of “Sorry Revisited” gets a double nomination from the Garage Academy, for Best Use of Mellotron and Best Reason to Take LSD.
But the 7 1/2-minute closer, “Nobody,” is the song that signposts one future alternate reality for the band. Following a Humble Pie-style brace of blooze-sludge riffage (Baranek even makes a creditable Steve Marriott turn at the mic), at midsong the tune shifts gears straight into an incendiary ripoff of Led Zep’s “How Many More Times” (along with hints of Free’s version of Albert King’s blues cruncher “The Hunter”). In your mind you can practically see the Sights sprout beards, headbands, fringed leather vests and patched bellbottoms. To an old ’70s head like yours truly, that, I assure you, is a good thing.
E-mail Fred Mills at email@example.com.