"Dali’s Llama, The Blossom: Cast in Sand
Its cover art might be purple, but the heart of the new Dali’s Llama EP, The Blossom, is all blue. As in, the blues, and the having of them. It’s virtually impossible for me to listen to the band or even see their name without the word “underappreciated” coming to mind, so let’s get that out of the way first — they’re underappreciated — and having said that, they here offer three songs and 18 minutes of new material through their own Dali’s Llama Records and push even further into DIY with guitarist/vocalist Zach Huskey sharing in the recording duties as well.
That’s a departure in itself from last year’s grimly-titled Dying in the Sun, which like the bulk of Dali’s Llama‘s prolific string of releases was helmed by Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed, Fireball Ministry). Reeder plays a role on The Blossom as well, sharing a recording credit with Huskey for closer “Bacteria,” while Huskey and Mike Jacobson recorded opener “Longtime Woman” (video here) and middle track “Like I Do,” which is probably as close to a general mission statement as Dali’s Llama have ever come. To wit, the lines, “Don’t wanna hear about your trips around the world/I don’t have your money, fame, or dozens of girls/But that don’t mean I lose/I just wanna live like I do,” sum up the general attitude with which the band would seem to approach the world around them; a fervent individuality very much indicative of their home in the Californian desert. Dali’s Llama, in other words, know who they are, and they know why.
Granted, with The Blossom as their 13th release, that should be the case. They’re nothing if not experienced when it comes to songwriting and being in the studio, but it says something about the creative will of Huskey — joined in the band by bassist/vocalist Erica Huskey, guitarist Joe Wangler and drummer Craig Brown — that they continue to try new things as well, like stepping into the recording process. While 2007-2012 found them releasing a new album about every year, Dying in the Sun followed four years after 2012’s Autumn Woods, and with a quick turnaround, it leads one to speculate if The Blossom signals a boost in productivity to come.
Either way, it’s a relatively quick listen that, in addition to being bluesy, emphasizes the low-key vibe that has persistently worked so well in Dali’s Llama‘s material. Zach retains some light punker root in his vocals, but the groove is all laid back in “Longtime Woman” and “Like I Do,” which feel very much of a pair, with the former rolling out a groove not unlike some that pervaded the band’s Halloween-party-esque 2010 outing, Howl Do You Do?, while the latter steps forth its un-aggro righteousness in a riff-led, barroom-ready shuffle early before giving into solo-topped lumbering for the bulk of its second half. Each of the first two songs has a hook to offer and finds Dali’s Llama locked into a jammy spirit, hitting on either side of the seven-minute mark — “Longtime Woman” in addition to opening is the longest track at 7:06 (immediate points), while “Like I Do” checks in at 6:43 — and working fluidly one into the next to set up the turn of approach that arrives with “Bacteria” (4:44) rounding out.
While “Bacteria” is by no means Dali’s Llama‘s first acoustic-centered track — Autumn Woods finished with the mostly-unplugged desert grunge of “Resolved” as well — the mood is particularly intimate, with the lyrics, “I’m getting older/No one wants to look at me anymore/Bacteria/They just go and wash their hands of me,” cloaking perhaps a bit of introspection in some clever wordplay. The shift from “Longtime Woman” and “Like I Do” is immediate, with the downward-sloping bounce of the centerpiece giving way to plucked notes that make it easy to imagine Huskey and Reeder working alone in dim lighting at the latter’s The Sanctuary studio. Some reverb on Huskey‘s vocals adds presence, but the underlying impression is still one of rawer emotionalism, and where “Resolved” incorporated a late electrified solo, it’s worth noting that “Bacteria” stays quiet for its duration, some backing percussion deep in the mix as it moves toward ending on its title line, capping The Blossom on a resonant and somewhat surprising note.
A band 13 releases in and offering the unexpected? One more reason I can’t say their name without the immediate word-association of “underappreciated” springing to mind. Dali’s Llama may remain the desert’s best kept secret when it comes to songwriting, but like they do, they’ll keep moving forward anyway, and while parts of “Longtime Woman” and “Like I Do” feel like they’re playing to the band’s strengths, the jammier feel also shows the chemistry the four-piece have developed over their time with this lineup around Zach and Erica, and while that may or may not be a path they’ll continue to walk — they’ve been known every now and again to veer into experimental outings like the aforementioned Howl do You Do? — it makes for an engaging short release that, like the many offerings surrounding it in Dali’s Llama‘s catalog, is a treasure waiting to be discovered."- JJ Koczan, The Obelisk