Personnel: Gabriel Fernandez , Julian Porte (vocals, guitar); Glenn Brigman (vocals, keyboards); Jonathan Thiemens (vocals); Johnathan Martin (drums).
Recording information: Everydaze Music, Los Angeles, CA (11/2014-12/2014).
The Southern California psychedelic garage rockers Levitation Room take inspiration from all the obvious '60s sources on their debut album, Ethos. One can hear traces of every band that ever showed up on a Nuggets comp, as well as all the weird groups who probably never even saw a tab of acid but were happy to pretend. The swirling and exotic guitar lines, whirling organs and Mellotrons, sneery, bleary vocals, and reverb-baked sound all scream 1966 -- but also 1986. The group sound almost exactly like every band from the mid-'80s wave of revivalists who ended up on Voxx or Midnight Records. Think Miracle Workers thanks to the biting guitar leads provided by Gabriel Fernandez, the Tell-Tale Hearts thanks to the relaxed, bluesy bounce, and the Chesterfield Kings due to Julian Porte's note-perfect vocal snarl and the band's exacting level of detail. Once their lineage has been established and cataloged, it's time to actually delve into what they bring to the party. Ethos isn't just an empty trip back to the past, it's full of really good songs played with fire and a drowsy power. If it had come out on Voxx in 1986, it would have put most of the competition to shame. Made up of mysterious, minor-key ballads ("Reasons Why," "Plain to See"), jangling pop songs ("Standing in the Rain"), and gently pulsating, lava lamp rockers ("Strangers of Our Time," "Loved"), they don't miss a thematic trick or leave a single psychedelic stone unturned along the way. It's revivalism for sure, but the band is good enough, energetic enough, and true enough to its sources (without mimicking them exactly), that it works. The sneaky hooks and the skill Fernandez exhibits when crafting his guitar parts also help boost them past pastiche and into something more. Ethos would have been head of the class in 1986, and it's pretty close to that in 2016, too. ~ Tim Sendra