Blood is Sicker than Water

Swami Lushbeard - Blood is Sicker than Water
Artist: Swami Lushbeard
Label: EP
Release Date: November 25, 2016
Genre: Rock
Available Now On:
Album Review

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Swami Lushbeard, an independent rock outfit from Los Angeles that cites influences the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Radiohead, and Queens of the Stone Age. Their latest studio endeavor, an EP entitled ‘Blood Is Sicker Than Water,’ is available now. Let’s delve into the three tracks and determine if it’s worth including in your indie music collection this winter… ‘Blood Is Sicker Than Water’ opens up with ‘Haunted,’ and as the name suggests, there is an inherently melancholy, eerie sonic quality to the tune. The production quality is immediately noticeable, and ‘Blood Is Sicker Than Water’ is a very well produced effort. The band balances a nice mix of alternative, hard, and classic rock vibes – similar to one of their influences, Queens of the Stone Age. ‘Haunted’ is strongest in its musical chemistry; I’d argue the harmonies are particularly exceptional, and the band is perfectly in step with one another. ‘Twist & Shout,’ the EP’s second song, is not a Isley Brothers / Beatles cover, as I initially anticipated, but rather, another reverb-laden jaunt through surreal lyricism and moody, wistful instrumentation. ‘Twist & Shout’ shines in its composition, and the performances on behalf of Swami Lushbeard make for a compelling listen. The dichotomy of the intense electric guitar and percussion and the acoustic grand piano is surprisingly beautiful. ‘F.E.A.R.,’ the EP’s finale, is certainly the most upbeat of the three tracks. In fact, sequencing it at the end is an interesting decision, because it likely would have been a better introduction. Reminiscent of the music of a QotSA-adjacent act, Mini Mansions, ‘F.E.A.R.’ offers one of the more diverse, layered soundscapes on the record. The synthesizer is fantastic, and compliments the rawness of the rest of the performance wonderfully. There’s a lot to dig about ‘Blood Is Sicker Than Water.’ It’s a very well crafted independent rock EP that does what many can’t: it gets to the point. It’s well written, well performed, and doesn’t get bogged down in any ostentatious production or filler content. All three tracks are strong, and because of that, ‘Blood Is Sicker Than Water’ is most certainly worth giving a listen.

- Independent Spotlight: Brett David Stewart

Been treating myself over these past couple days… taking it easy on the regular schedule and diving deeper into some records that I know have popped up throughout the scene from bands I know to be reliably strong with brand-new tunes out there. Swami Lushbeard was the choice for today… I’m talking review-wise anyway; it’s been the choice for many days over the course of the past couple months if we’re counting the music – and I’ve had the sheer privilege of listening to these new songs develop to the powerful set of three that now exist on their new EP Blood Is Sicker Than Water. We’ve been longtime supporters of Swami Lushbeard… we’ve heard the band grow, change and evolve since first tuning into the follow-up to their first full-length album Who You Were? with their A Burning Desire EP. From interviews we’ve had and stories shared – I feel closer to this band than most when it comes right down to it…great people, great music and a true unity you can hear continuing to drive the songs they make…and even though I’ve talked with many of the members of the current lineup in the past, I’d be inclined to say that you really get to know this band better than ever before through these three new tunes. Boldly displaying they’ve still got plenty to say and crisp, new, tight-ideas in their music that have this band sounding their best to-date – Swami Lushbeard’s Blood Is Sicker Than Water contains vibrant rock with clever combinations, intense musicianship and a truly passionate approach. Quite honestly…knowing anything about this band aside… if it was just the music I knew about and nothing more I’d still be proud of the effort made on this EP and evolution in the Swami sound – they should be too. Throughout their story – this band has gone through a ton to still be out there and kicking ass… songs with depth like you’ll find on Blood Is Sicker Than Water are both hard to write and hard to perform when associated with the roots of the complex emotions that are driving the material. Exploring themes like the intensity in relationships between friends & family, self-reflection and observations, emotions and lyrics that express many of the feelings we experience collectively – Swami Lushbeard has written a dynamic set of three-tunes that feels as full and satisfying as an entire record. With an eerie and curious guitar-line, the new adventure begins with “Haunted.” I dig the way the entire sound of this opening-cut feels mysterious and really pulls you in to listen as a result; unleashing a bold contrast, the hooks of “Haunted” take the song to a brighter and more inviting sound. The lead in to the chorus is extremely strong each time…and lyrically, if you’re following this one I think you’ll find the music echoes the energy and tone in the mood solidly all along; the verse is more like the explanation and the chorus represents that solution…that breaking-free. ‘Just let go,’ as they say. The tightness in this idea overall is quite strong; the way they’ve brought it to life through the combination of dynamics that shift as the verse builds into the chorus is quite impressive. Lead-singer Don Sprouls has some highlight moments as the song heads towards the chorus second-time through… the drums came out sounding big & bold, distant in the mix but separated so you get a beautiful clarity on what you hear…and Ian’s killin’ it back there, as always. Complete with a wicked guitar solo before the third minute, impressive harmonies and vocals carry “Haunting” through its chorus run-throughs to the end with increasing intensity in the vocals. The final part of “Haunting” – like I’m talking the VERY final seconds where they bring it back to the style of where the song first began was a brilliant touch and captivating last addition to the opening tune on Blood Is Sicker Than Water. What’s most impressive about their new EP however, goes on to be the consistency in quality across the board of these three tracks. I might feel slightly partial to “Twist & Shout” – MAYBE – but truthfully, it’d be only by a hair and photo-finish that would separate it from the rest. I did feel like what put it just over the top for me was the sense that every member of this five-piece crew got a true moment to shine on this second cut even more-so than the others. Drums from Ian are perfection once again…lots of inventive fills and a solid steady & powerful tribal-sound of sorts drives a lot of the atmosphere in the verse and with excellent transitions, he pounds out the chorus. M@ the keyboardist of Swami Lushbeard adds SO MUCH to this tune that I absolutely love in the swirling elements that complement the melody of the song. Don has more highlight guitar moments and delivers real texture into the music of “Twist & Shout” through the effects & tones he’s chosen. Solidly sung with newest member Greg Safel adding to the vocals to strengthen the sound and tone in the melodies they write – they drift through a dreamy verse before rocking the chorus, solos and instrumental sections of “Twist & Shout.” But bar-none… I felt like the real star of this tune came from the bass-man – another first-time Swami in their lineup by the name of Brian Crerar. What a beast! This guy deserves a lot of credit for the highly creative and stunning bass-lines that run deep throughout the rhythm of “Twist & Shout.” With the twinkling guitar sounds spread-out gently over top and the dramatic way this song transitions, turns and builds throughout its length completely retains its electric & exciting atmosphere. The jam these guys go into around the third-minute forward starts and stays impressive; guitars sound incredible, keyboards and drums flailing wildly before it all crashes and lands back into its gentle breakdown. Taking a moment of pause before ripping into an inspired ending…Swami Lushbeard kind of reminds me a bit of Brother Cane on this tune… especially when you consider the way Don sings this one. Powerful stuff! On Blood Is Sicker Than Water’s final cut – “F.E.A.R.” strikes out powerfully through bold instrumentation and a wild final performance. Combining huge hooks and a progressive approach – “F.E.A.R.” is like the Beach Boys deciding that three chords were indeed not enough and really exploring what else music can offer – but still retaining those bombastically bright vocals. And that’s really what hits you quickly as “F.E.A.R.” sets in… the thick & powerful harmonies sound very strong on this last cut and the energy of this last song immediately springs to life. A solid combination of psychedelic groove-rock and intense ideas in the writing lead this song everywhere from a sound like The Doors in the verse to the more modern alt-pop/rock-inspired sound of its chorus & lead-in. I could even get away with making a Queens Of The Stone Age reference towards this… the heavy grooves that Swami Lushbeard find in this tunes instrumental sections have that similar rhythm & hypnotic grind. The solos around the three-minute mark sound great, the drums are precision-perfect back there and the cymbals sound really fantastic in the mix of “F.E.A.R.” as that unified sound in this band strengthens to its maximum towards the energetic sound this song takes on towards the end. In one final twist…Don comes out to start a BRILLIANT and memorable ending to this EP. Stripping it all the way back to just the vocals and a gentle melody with a minute to spare still was a bold but effective way to end this record…the way the vocals come in to back him up as the song fades out was pure perfection and you really get that sense of completion after it concludes. But MAN! What a journey they bring you on throughout these three tracks eh? This is a meaty set of three… great rhythms, great grooves and the tightest musicianship & ideas I’ve heard from the band to-date. If they’re going to continue with making music of this much consistency, entertainment and outright quality in their songwriting – I’ve got no doubt at all that this entire band is going to go on and surprise themselves at just how much they’ve got to offer throughout the years to follow. Definitely a project I want to see continue – Swami Lushbeard makes great music and writes a fantastic tune – and ANY track you could select from their new Blood Is Sicker Than Water EP would be all the proof of that you’d need.

- Sleeping Bag Studios: Jer @SBS

L.A. Rock band Swami Lushbeard is officially back with a brand-new EP, “Blood Is Sicker Than Water” In the studio for the first time since the release of their single “Where The Sheep Are Led” in 2014, which I totally missed, having last reviewed their EP “A Burning Desire” in 2013. The 5-piece band’s sound is firmly intact despite a few personnel changes as Swami Lushbeard brings their dark, slippery sound to the table once again. The guitar riffs are lumbering giants, the drums are near-mechanical in their bombardment, and the music straddles the line with both heavy melodies and heavy rhythms. New to Swami is a sense of slickness: songs like the opening “Haunted” groove nicely between tempo and tone changes, but never feels soulless, as underneath the determined melody and layered harmonies, lies a set of thought-provoking lyrics. “Blood Is Sicker Than Water” is a concise concept EP of sorts, investigating the ‘bonds between relationships, both in and outside the bloodline’. To my mind the recording is definitely a defining moment for all participating members – Don (Vocals, Guitar), Ian (Drums), M@ (Keys), Brian (Bass) and Greg (Harmony Vocals) – and their most revealing, most focused recording, as well as their most ambitious effort yet. “Haunted” is the perfect opener that puts everything out on the table atmospherically for the EP. Filled with the band’s strong melodies and angular guitars – picked and strummed – the track just takes you for an emotional ride from start to finish. Intense harmonies and pauses make this a dynamical treat. It sets the five-star precedent for the whole recording. “Twist & Shout” is a breezy track that rides on the piano and acoustic guitar, as well as leans on the smooth breathy vocals and the enchantingly evolving rhythm progressions. The build up to the harmonies is beautifully written and is definitely emotionally heavier than what you would ever expect from such an airy and sprawling musical arrangement. “F.E.A.R” is pure retro psychedelia tinged with acid rock influences, dominated by an incessant and almost manic organ line. I like this one a lot because it is just filled with groovy, energetic riffs and rhythms, while the vocals soar and climb above the rest. This is a pretty great tune to listen to while driving in your car, especially at night. No falling asleep behind the wheel is almost guaranteed here! This EP’s real value however, is extracted by repeated and focused listening in a personal setting, or with close friends who share an intense interest in alternative rock. Enjoyed in the right setting, this record deserves a place high above even the lofty critical accolades that it has already received. “Blood Is Sicker Than Water” flows beautifully, and while the run time may seem a little on the short side, with only 3 songs, I feel that it is in the service of avoiding filler. Every song on this EP is worth hearing multiple times, and there is none worth skipping. I get a little something extra out of this recording every time I hear it, especially the track, “Haunted”, which may or may not be the band’s absolute best song to date, depending on your own personal taste. Somehow, I sense that this EP is important and should not be overlooked, even if you are for some obscure reason, not already a Swami Lushbeard fan.

- Rick Jamm

Following up on their previous 2014 single “Where The Sleep Are Led”, L.A. based rockers Swami Lushbeard are back with their latest EP, “Blood Is Sicker Than Water”. Opening with ‘Haunted’ there is an immediate hit of alternative rock, with a mature flavour running through the track. The swirling, phaser-laden guitars give something of a post-grunge vibe, while the gutsy vocals and accompanying harmonies add some grit and colour. ‘Twist & Shout’ offers a more eerie and introspective feel, with a wandering guitar riff and glacial piano notes that flutter in the background, before the track goes on to unfurl with its own sense of drama, telling its story and painting its picture with its rich tones. Closing track ‘F.E.A.R.’ offers a bold and brash sound, with some old school swirling organs and spluttering guitars that come together to create a classic rock tone that is utterly pleasing and a track that urges the listener to tap their toes. Blood Is Sicker Than Water is a carefully compiled package, with its three songs having been well crafted to show the work of a band who without a doubt have a whole lot more to offer. Turn it on, turn it up, rock out.

- Chris Marsh

Blood Is Sicker Than Water – it’s a concise, three track EP, from an experienced and thoughtful band, and it’s perhaps more effective than many of the longer rock releases from the past twelve months. There’s a lot that seems to happen in a very short period of time, and yet at no point is the music overwhelmingly manic or noisy. From start to finish, it’s an incredible listening experience. Haunted is the first track to take shape; powerfully atmospheric riffs unfold, backed up by a very organic beat, and a genuine and emotionally loaded leading vocal. The leading voice has a smoothness to it that is not dissimilar to the sound of some classic rock bands from way back when, though perhaps this is merely the recording style – the reverb, the dreamlike soundscape surrounding it – the voice itself sounds unfamiliar, extremely passionate, and brilliantly in keeping with the mood of the whole piece. The opening riff of the song gets you intrigued and listening fairly instantly. It also leaves plenty of space around the lyrics, so these really hit hard – it’s just your time.. the hole that remains in your soul.. There’s a lot that is provocative about these lyrics, each line seems all at once distant yet ongoing from the one that precedes it. The melody used at each moment drives this effect with perfect grace, and the song successfully gives off something of a haunting overtone – reinforcing at all times that key concept. “I won’t be the last one of the first to ask you to forgive them of their worst..” Twist & Shout takes things in a slightly different direction, but even having said that, it follows on beautifully from the opener. There’s a peaceful ambiance to the track at first, and although there’s an immediate bravery suggested in the lyrics, the track comes with a certain sense of vulnerability that really draws your attention to the songwriters – the previous track in many ways made you think about your own existence in relation to the music and the ideas. This one reminds you of the artists behind the art. This second track has a superb musicality to it; the sound is fresh and exciting, the structure is unexpected and so every moment is unpredictable. The leading melody very quickly sinks in, and then you notice these additional and gorgeous riffs from the keys, the guitars, and even the uplifting and ever-evolving energy of the drums. Soon enough the music allows and in fact encourages your mind to wander. The vocal harmonies add something further, the stops and starts as well; everything about this one makes for an unforgettable listening experience. It’s a powerful piece of music. You can listen more than a few times and still stumble upon something you hadn’t picked up on before. It’s brilliant musicianship, and the sort of songwriting that really uses the music – incorporates every instrumental moment into the story – as opposed to merely resting the lyrics and the melodies on top of some chords. F.E.A.R showcases a much bigger sort of sound from the offset. There’s an indie-anthem vibe to the music at first – the opening chorus of vocals, the heavy and creative bassline – and yet, as with the previous songs, you can’t predict what will follow, and very swiftly things evolve into something else. The song brings forward an experimental and rather retro set of keys that are a little reminiscent of synths from the early eighties. The vocal parts in this one seem to drive everything with great power – the harmony of voices works well, the melody is strong and striking, as are the lyrics, and there’s an undeniable level of passion and emotion to the performances that really underlines the realness and the honesty of the music. The band promise to deliver something that unites people, that reaches out to all of us, and is both personal and widely accessible – and they more than deliver on all of this. The final song differs greatly from the previous two, and in fact all three highlight superbly the level of skill and creativity that the artists involved possess. The final melody, the whole get ready to run hook, stays with you long after listening. What you’ll also take away from this is the personality that shines through. As mentioned, the perspective is unique, it has that personal touch, it has a lot of character, yet it reaches out and includes you nonetheless – regardless of who you are. The cut away towards the end of the final track, when you think it’s all over, then something else steps forward, is really just the cherry on top of the cake. If you hadn’t already fallen for the musical style and expression of the band, this final few moments of acoustic bliss and raw, untouched performance will win you over once and for all. It’s a great way to show that alternative side to the makers, even if just briefly, and once again – you know for certain the eclectic and thoughtful nature of the creativity that thrives in the music Swami Lushbeard create. A live show is a must, and hopefully a much longer project or a string of new releases will follow some time soon.

- Stereo Stickman: Rebecca Cullen
1. Haunted
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2. Twist & Shout
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3. F.E.A.R.
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About New Album

Swami Lushbeard returns with Blood Is Sicker Than Water!

Long awaited & highly anticipated – critically acclaimed L.A. Rock-band Swami Lushbeard is officially back with a brand-new EP, Blood Is Sicker Than Water! In the studio for the first time since the release of their hit-single “Where The Sheep Are Led” in 2014 – the five-piece band has put together three choice-cuts with talented new members and stunning new ideas being unleashed this year, in late 2016.

Examining the strength of the bond between relationships both inside the bloodline & out – Blood Is Sicker Than Water represents some of the strongest material Swami Lushbeard has created to-date. With thought-provoking lyrics written to challenge your mind and test your mettle – the songs on the new EP are bound to make you think every bit as much as make you move. Built on steady & reliable grooves and hook-laden rock with boldly progressive ideas threaded into each tune – the music has never been more personal…yet so relatable to us all, important and REAL.

In a world filled with divisive rhetoric and differing opinions – Swami Lushbeard is bringing us all together through their own strongly-unified sound over the three insightful new tunes on Blood Is Sicker Than Water. The fact that the band is still here today, back & better than ever, speaks volumes about the strength of the bond in the relationships we create…how they’re every bit as strong as family ties, binding contracts and the powerful emotions & feelings that we all share and experience as one.

And it is at this time, that the five members of Swami Lushbeard, Don (Vocals, Guitar), Ian (Drums), M@ (Keys), Brian (Bass) and Greg (Harmony Vocals) cordially invite you all to step into their world and experience their own twisted take & perspective through a set of wildly dynamic Rock songs that truly resonate, connect and unify us all through the powerful bond we collectively share within the universal language of music

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