The opening guitar riffs on “Spiral Desire,” the first track from Reefcity’s debut album, instantly transport you to an oceanic setting. The warbly guitar tones, which are quickly backed by a rowdy rhythm section, come ablaze with a wildfire tempo that sets the tone for the duration of the album.
Upon introduction, Reefcity wastes little time in establishing who they are and what they do. They shred, they jam and they play their asses off track in and track out, manifesting an undeniable energy that runs full steam throughout each of their songs. On their full length debut, Current Times, the Santa Barbara natives set out to assert themselves as a bonafide rock band with psychedelic sensibilities and an apt understanding of effective song structures.
Comprised of songwriter-instrumentalists Nick Wright, Jose Jimenez, Reed Roudabush and Justin Kass, the California-based four piece features an electric dynamic. Their songs often erupt and swoon still within the scope of a few instrumental excursions, constantly looking to capture intense states of introspection and emotion like lightning in a bottle. Officially released on Dos Pueblos Records, Current Times grabs hold of that same energy and exploits it through the lens of deeply existential songwriting.
From the jump, Reefcity show little fear in pulling from different avenues of rock and indie to inspire their sound. Their tunes nestle in comfortably between jangle pop, blues and 1970s hard rock, all of which they embrace with a West Coast attitude. This melting pot of styles is perfectly captured on the lustful blues of “Night Lady,” as well as the Spanish-flavored soft rock lullaby “Yesteryear,” which harps back to the early days of Los Lonely Boys.
Elsewhere, the lush grooves on “Wonderland” are paced by a thick bassline and steady drum progression. Equally endearing is “Step Outside,” a playful acoustic ode to the earth. The most powerful stylistic diversion comes by way of “Felix,” a beach grunge ballad on which a Neil Young-esque harmonica intro guides the track through a series of pensive verses before being caressed away in a heavenly midst of organ and background harmonies.
As seamless as the band delivers their more varied cuts, there is little denying how comfortable they are in turning up the tempo. They indulge in nearly three full minutes of rough-house riffing on “Psychedelic Samba,” only to blow past any presumed barriers on “Diamonds,” a near 11-minute fury of colliding instrumental passages, christened off by some of Wright’s most harrowing lyrical dirges on the album: “You know I see you in my head every single day.”
In retrospect, Current Times is a compelling, guitar-oriented album. Whether in solo, setting the rhythm or acting as the lead voice of a song, each note oozes pain, pleasure and sensuality. Fused with Wright’s scuffed up and raspy croon, this combination forms the emotional core of many of the songs on the record.
Yet the ethos of Reefcity revolves around much more than a singular instrument or musical style. Their songs assume a unique energy – one that only happens when we are constantly reaching for something greater than the sum of our parts.