Monday 11 January 2016

La Chinga - Freewheelin' (Album Review)

Release date: 20 March 2016. Label: Small Stone Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Freewheelin' – Tracklisting

1. Gone Gypsy
2. Mother Of All Snakeheads
3. White Witchy Black Magic
4. Stoned Greased White Lightnin'
5. Faded Angel
6. Mountain Momma
7. War Cry
8. K.I.W.
9. Right On
10. Dawn Of Man

Band Members:

Carl Spackler - lead vocals, bass guitar
Ben Yardley - guitar, mandolin, theremin, backing & lead vocals
Jay Solyom - drums, percussion, backing vocals


Hell yeah La Chinga, this is the shit, alright! Straight outta Vancouver, Canada, this trio shows how things are done on their sophomore album, 'Freewheelin'. Might be putting my head on the chopping block but these guys have reinvented the power trio concept, in my book. Apart from led-heavy riffs, thumping bass lines and pounding drums, they have added so much groove, melody and harmony along with dollops of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, UFO, MC5, James Gang to mention but a few sources of inspiration. The end result you ask? Well, get a copy of 'Freewheelin' and find out, people. Until then, read on and take my word for it that La Chinga are fabu-fuckin-loso!

'Gone Gypsy' sets the bar very high - no pun intended - as it rocks and shakes like a volcano bound for eruption. So full of spunk and a rarely seen freedom about it, the song is an excellent starter. 'Mother Of All Snakeheads' never lose the attitude of its predecessor only to add a touch of punk to the fray. La Chinga rattles and roll to a beat so solid yet loose and fierce at the same time, that my head is about to explode. 'White Witchy Black Magic' goes for Motörhead-like riffs, while the bass guitar and drums lays down the law. Just a touch slower - everything is relative - than the previous tracks, the band unleashes power of an unseen kind by gradually building up to a spazztic end, crowned by a blistering guitar solo. Groovy riffs and heavy blues rhythms with Marc Bolan singing is what 'Stoned Greased White Lightnin' is. Catchy as hell in the best kind of way, Ben's guitar playing is outstanding. Speaking of Ben, he takes care of the lead vocals on 'Faded Angel'. This is the seventies revisited as a mixture of UFO - the guitar solo especially - and James Gang comes out of the speakers, flooring with a huge sucker punch. Only halfway through this album and I can't stress how damned great 'Freewheelin' is.

'Mountain Momma' is a fantastic where Carl excels in the vocal department. A true, original homage to Led Zeppelin through and through, Carl really brings out the Robert Plant of long lost days. Every time I hear this one shivers shoots down my spine, making my knees shake uncontrollably…aaaah beautiful! Hot damn ‘War Cry’ is brutal. La Chinga puts the pedal to the metal from the get-go annihilating everything and everyone getting in their way. This is badass heavy rock’n’roll the way it should be played. Short, sharp and ready to fuck you up. Mid-paced, yet in-yer-face and ready pounce, ‘K.I.W.’ has such a nice strut to it. And the drive the band shows is fantastic. A Southern Rock boogie feel is what permeates ‘Right On’ and I love it. Again, a blistering solo from Ben but I’m not complaining, hell no. The way his partners in crime, Carl and Jay interplay with each other, it allows him freedom to shoot for the moon…which he does! The album ends with ‘The Dawn Of Man’ and this piece is the “odd” out. It has a heavy blues, power rock foundation but it is a trippy composition, and then some. Slow, crawling La Chinga aims for galaxies where other-worldly stuff occurs and sure enough, that’s exactly what happens here. To me, it’s like the band wants to end the wax taking off on a journey into the unknown where no one knows the destination. Hopefully, the next album will inform us on that. In the meantime, I’m spacing out as much as I can with ‘The Dawn Of Man’ as my tour guide.

La Chinga are a new acquaintance to me who has really shook my foundations in the best possible way. As a music lover, it’s one of the best feelings to come across a band with one or more albums already to their name that you’ve never heard of. As you are introduced, they show you how music should be played regardless what your music preferences are. That’s exactly what these Canadians do, and they do it amazingly well. Lo and behold, I think I have a new band to add to my top favourites!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Freewheelin' will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Small Stone Records on 20th March 2016.