If asked to pinpoint when Pig Boat Blues was made, a variety of dates could be entertained. Many would guess the 60’s. Some might say the 70’s, but probably because they see the 60’s and the 70’s as the same thing. A sophisticated guess would be the 80’s, with mention of Paisley Underground. The 90’s is a good choice, with the album being likened to the Brian Jonestown Massacre. And afterwards…possible, but not as probable. In this album, one can hear oil wheel projections, striped pants, and mod haircuts. What one does not hear- iphones, black 510’s, and “the Draper.” This is because the album belongs to an impression, to an evolved, nuanced aesthetic—not a specific time or place. It is evocative of all of the aforementioned times and scenes, but not birthed in any of them. In that sense, the album is kind of like a soundtrack that can be played again and again, scored to an endless movie that always has a similar, but different, cast of people who are always drawn to and create this setting, this mythos.
To which, one might say “no shit.” But my point here is this- Pig Boat Blues isn’t just a ripping off of one particular band, it’s a product of and a simultaneous example of psychedelic enthusiasm in a substantial way. It’s the fruit of a long family tree that is rooted deep in the 60’s. Christian Bland isn’t just regurgitating the past, as is the complaint with many like minded groups. He has a gifted way of expressing himself, a way that is timeless, familiar, and yet very fresh.
There are plenty of tasty parts to Pig Boat Blues: the riff in “Black Crayon”, the bluesy wanderings of “13 Cent Killer”, the primal scream in “Shark Attack.” The arrangements are composed in such a way that the different parts pinball off each other. But the real LSD on top of the sugar cube is the employment of an organ. Trudging through the opener “Say Hello”, playing counterpoint to the guitar in “Sounds Like 1969”; it’s a fine addition to the texture of the album, and a nice throwback to the likes of Nuggets-era B-listers.
Overall, Pig Boat Blues is not an indulgence, but a compelling piece of now and then that should garner a wide spectrum of listeners.
Words: Brad Krohe