Heron Oblivion are a quartet formed a few years ago, but judging by their influences and the infernal racket they create, you’d never know it.
The band's self-titled debut LP for Sub Pop worships the free-wheeling guitar era defined by The Stooges, Led Zeppelin, and Crazy Horse - an era where structure took a backseat to playing, and playing as loud as possible.
Guitarists Noel Von Harmonson and Charlie Saufley make their acid-washed guitars gargle, howl, yelp and squeal, playing the living shit outta them in the process. Yes, notes and chords are fun and all, but these songs are precisely-controlled messes, and beautifully so. Simply put, Heron Oblivion is a guitar-centric record for those who thought Marquee Moon was too linear.
Not to be outdone, psych-folker Meg Baird uses her feather-light vocals to soar over the squall like a spectre. Whether she needs to match the contemplative, barren nature of opener "Beneath Fields" and "Your Hollows" or the nervous excitement of "Oriar" and "Faro", she's a deceptively adept vocalist and expertly matches the emotionally-driven compositions.
The album's centerpiece is the ten-minute "Rama", wherein the band creeps along with careful noodling, almost as if they're searching for a lightswitch in the dark. After an explosive chorus, an aching solo takes over until the song quiets down to nothing but drums, only to have the entire group come roaring back in shit-hot dueling wah-wah solos.
It may seem silly to make a guitar-based record like this in an age where the guitar is a spice rather than a main ingredient. And a ten-minute freak-out with a half-dozen solos? Yeah, that's probably too self-indulgent for 2016 ears. Here's the thing, though: Heron Oblivion don't give a shit about any of this, and instead play what they feel - and that's what makes them great.