Grand Marshal Ape is the first full–length album from Redneck Spaceship, out of Moscow, Russia. With their nine-song debut, the band taps into the vibes of stoner, blues, and southern rock in the vein of bands like Fu Manchu and ZZ Top. With fuzzy low-end tones and upbeat grooves, the band delivers their take of the genre that sprouted in the U.S.A. in a mix that could be called Russian Americanism.
Opening the album is a track called “Sands of Dakar.” Big time King of the Road vibes are in there, as the Fu Manchu-esque tones and rumble are easily noticeable. You could tell that the band are operating within a tight, square blues frame, and driving that with heavy tones. Whereas the rhythms and groove lock in well and roll with conviction, the lead vocals didn’t grab me with the same power. However as a collective the band rolls solidly throughout the entire album.
The next track comes in hot with a drum intro similar to Pentagram’s “Forever My Queen.” With this track you really get the blues-rock vibe from the band. The blues and southern rock influences are strong throughout the entire album, with tracks like “On the Roadside” and “Maverick” featuring slide guitar, banjo, and harmonica. It makes you wonder if these guys are actually from Moscow, or really from somewhere down south in ‘Murica.
In my opinion the track “Enchained” is the most interesting one on the album due to its lyrical content. The anthem-like vocals and melodies of the song that sings “Freedom, freedom, freedom” could at first give the impression that it’s a back-up song to the star-spangled banner. Whereas freedom is a worldwide and universal idea, those Americans seem to have tagged it as their motto. Nonetheless, Redneck Spaceship reminds us that “we’re all enchained by freedom.”
The big finale comes with the last song, “Antariksh.” It begins with a short monologue delivered in Russian as the psychedelic grooves start to build underneath it. Even without the extreme wizardry of Isaiah Mitchell and company, the groove echoes those tasty Earthless vibes. (For fans of the genre of heavy psychedelic blues music, Earthless has a record ready to drop March 16th, 2018 that will definitely be worth the trip.) “Antariksh” definitely feeds off those Earthless vibes and juicy jams. The song is a nearly ten-minute long jam with no real chorus or refrain. It’s easily my favourite track off the record, and helps Grand Marshal Ape end on a solid note.
The psychedelic stoner blue-rock genre has become so widespread that you could expect heavy, delicious jams and crushing fuzz riffs from just about anywhere in the world. Not every band or song will catch you as hard as the big dogs of the genre, but with the power of the internet you can immerse yourself in that world and definitely come out with something you dig. So check out Redneck Spaceship and see what you can grab.
Written by Ben Cornel
*edited by Kate Erickson