For four years now there’s been something brewing in the Midwest. A sound. A sound and a movement. Call it dark magic. Call it a cult. Hell, call it voodoo if you want. But whatever you call it one thing you can’t do is deny the force of it. The whisper within the vibes that pulls you towards it. The catchy grooves and otherworldly pop sensibilities that mask a deeper sense of the universe. These reverb-drenched apostles come in the form of Heaven’s Gateways Drugs, a band that began as one thing, fell apart, then reformed into another. Yet despite internal stress and band member changes they still retained the essence that those three seemingly harmless words strung together formed, and the mantra that should be echoing in your skull right now:
“You are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.”
Rubber Nun is the band’s newest record. It’s their best yet; fully formed, sonically richer, and filled with all those psychedelic sweeps and quirky pop moments that’s made them one of the most interesting bands to emerge from the Midwest rock scene in some time.
“The Heathen Twist” opens up with a meditative drone before sitar-like guitar and tribal drums force their way into your brain. The psych rock crew of Derek Mauger, Ben Carr, Brandon Lee Zolman, and James Francis Wadsworth know how to put together an eerie psych rock banger, and that’s just what “The Heathen Twist” is. The takeaway from it? We’re all doomed, so do what you want. You bought the ticket, so you better enjoy the ride while it lasts. “Copper Hill” has the swagger of Brian Jonestown Massacre and the melody game of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, complete with Leslie speaker-affected backing vox. “Fun & Games” has some groovy rhythms courtesy of Sir Wadsworth and a seriously magical vibe mined right from those classic Nuggets collections. The guitar sounds like its hanging in the air courtesy of some seriously milky reverb. Title track “Rubber Nun” is a psychedelic powder keg, blasting at the seams like the Banana Splits on the verge of a psilocybin freakout. It’s a nonsensical, giddy pop concoction that you’ll find hard to sit still to. “Dear Charlotte” is a ghostly track that morphs the ‘Village Green’ with ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’. And “Utah Spirit Babies” is the heaviest I’ve heard these guys yet. Despite being a hell of a song title, it’s also a call back to some serious Fort Wayne music scene history.
Jason Davis of Off The Cuff Sound has done an exquisite job of bringing these tracks to life in the studio. He’s given them a sonic depth and offered the guys just enough studio wizardry to allow for a rich and heady headphone experience. “The Horrible Tale of Edwin Crisp” and “Knowing” prove to be worlds unto themselves under the guidance of some seriously bulky Koss headphones(or ear buds if you’re so inclined.)
Rubber Nun is a honing in on the strengths and dark magic that makes Heaven’s Gateway Drugs the magical group of musical occultists they’ve become. You’re not going to hear something out of place on this record. No piano ballads or blues rockers. What you will hear is a band that has found their sea legs, as it were. Casting spells, laying down mystical grooves, and generally freaking out in the best way possible.
8.2 out 10