No Keys, the third album from Dommengang, sees the three piece further hone the blues rock of 2018’s Love Jail, while still keeping some of the psych rock stylings that permeated the bands self-titled debut record from four years ago. The result is a rough-hewn hard rock record, with lyrics that address the loss and anxiety suffered by the band in the recordings build up. That’s perhaps down to Tim Green (Joanna Newsom, Howlin’ Rain, Sleepy Sun, Fresh and Onlys, Golden Void) who has presided over a process that saw the band play essentially live, with minimal overdubs.
Though the band, guitarist Dan ‘Sig’ Wilson, bassist Brian Markham and drummer Adam Bulgasem, live apart – Wilson in LA, and the other two in New York, touring and playing had drawn them closer together than ever, making the process of the album both cathartic and an escape, resulting in the records cohesive nature despite it being sometimes drenched in the loss that informed it.
The record opens with scuzzy, psych-influenced Sunny Day Flooding, but even that gives way somewhat to the this cleaner, southern/classic rock sound as it unfurls, and follow on Earth Blues carries that on, with its crunching guitar and extended licks bleeding into the melodies and vocal harmonies giving it the appearance of a meaner, more muscular Midlake.
And so the scene is set, with a foot in both psych and heavy rock camps, and there’s much to enjoy, from the frayed edge psych of Wild Wash, to the rockier album highlight Stir the Waves, via instrumentals suchlike as the short but bristling Blues Rot, to the delightfully memorable Arcularius – Burke, which expertly switches between this fragile beauty and this angry, bustling psych-blues.
Its all washed down with album closer Happy Death (Her Blues II) a proto-doors like hard rock/psych epic that has enough warmth to keep you close and enough messy guitar licks to excite.
Yeah it’s nothing particularly new, but Dommengang have mixed it up a bit on No Keys, found their own sound, and made a very enjoyable album.