Spark one up and dig on that Sweet Love. Their recent debut album, Motor (75orLess Records), is a dusty and bloodshot 35 minutes of glorious fuzzed-up riffs and rhythms provided by local rock vets Barry Menard (vocals/guitar), Mark Roberge (bass/vox), and drummer John Hunter (known to all as Hunter). But there's also plenty of atmospheric melody and energy across the eight cuts ($8 CD/$5 for the digital download at sweetlove.bandcamp.com).
Full disclosure: I am a stoner/desert rock-obsessed fossil, addicted to hypnotic grooves and robot rock riffs from Hum, the Life and Times, Sleep, and all things Josh Homme, Deep Purple, and Sabbath. These three dudes click and fire on all cylinders, with musty pulses laid down by Roberge, Menard's vocals bobbing atop feedback-drenched chords, and Hunter's crisp and concise skills behind the kit. The songs here glow red-hot like the business end of a reefer-stuffed blunt.
"This album was mastered for dynamics, not volume," according to the band's website. The summer 2012 leadoff singles "Interstate" and "Dive" offered plenty of reasons to crank the hi-fi. Both cuts caught my attention at one of Sweet Love's first shows at Firehouse 13 last year (the trio formed in 2010); at the time, Hunter informed me that he and his mates would take their sweet time in the studio before releasing a full-length record.
Menard, Roberge, and Hunter worked with renowned audio guru George Dussault and recorded at Galilee Productions in Cumberland. Though my continued "stoner-rock" references may infer some kind of half-baked approach to writing and recording, that simply wasn't the case.
"We were meticulous in the mixing process, trying to find the perfect drum sounds, getting the right bass and guitar mix, adding effects to make changes 'pop,' " said Roberge.
"It was a very organic process that began as improvised jams that evolved along the way," added Menard. "We went through five or six rough mixes before we were satisfied," he continued, "and we are really happy with the result."
Motor wastes no time throwing the fuzz into overdrive on the opening one-two punch of "Sweet Love" and "Black Hole," which would be right at home on QOTSA's self-titled debut. Hunter picks up the pace midway through on this one, and the trio locks in with tenacity. The steady pummel of "Seen But Not Heard" gives way to the aforementioned "Dive," a killer cut which was "completely written on the spot," according to Roberge. The woozy "Interstate" follows and flows seamlessly, and the "The Circle" is a meaty, uptempo track that could serve as the album's next single.
A Sweden-based label (Ozium Records) has jumped on distributing Motor overseas after hearing the album on Sweet Love's Bandcamp site.
"I think the kind of music we make resonates amongst fans of underground rock in Europe for some reason," said Roberge.
The band noted that their show this weekend could be the last of the year; they plan on returning to the studio to record an instrumental EP in early 2013.
"Our process worked out really well because the energy and dynamics of three guys rocking out is still there, but all the instruments are exactly where they need to be in the mix to make the songs match our vision as closely as possible," Roberge said.
SWEET LOVE + VERTICAL TWIN + GROUNDHAWGS | Friday, September 21 @ 7 pm | PVD Social Club, 71 Richmond St, Providence | getsweetlove.com