Picture a tripped-out Donovan falling through the rabbit hole into a Lewis Carroll nightmare and you might be somewhere near describing “New Goth Architects, Part 1: Running”, the psychedelic 49 second intro to Victor Lewis’ new album. Of course, as we’ve come to expect from Vic’s prolific and genre-blind discography, his latest record, Vick & The Hickory Switch – Clown Princess Could Not Sleep, doesn’t stay in one place for long. Before you know it, Vic has launched into the acoustic, alt-blues boogie of “That’s a Hickory Switch, Part 1: Jump Blues” which gives way to the Led Zeppelin-meets-Butthole Surfers freak-out “That’s a Hickory Switch, Part II: A Letter”.
The record seems to be linked by some loose thematic concept, with references to a “Hickory Switch” and “New Goth Architects” popping up in song titles throughout. Although I’m not really sure what that concept is, it doesn’t really matter because the music is incredible and makes up some of Vic’s most experimental work yet. Several of the tracks, like “Nihilist’s Lament” and “Jehovah’s Wig”, venture into some spacey, sludge-core that calls to mind a more melodic Sun O))). “Lighthouse Projection, Part II” mixes a little of that palate with some gothic style synth for some very ominous sounding results. And “Squirrel on the Rooftop” creates an audio interpretation of what I think it might sound like if Oompa Loompas crashed the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
But don’t worry, Vic doesn’t completely abandon the garage-rock stylings that you know and love. “Still A Flake” brings us back home to Casual Male/Kujo territory with a killer scale-straddling riff and lots of frantic, spazzed out guitar solos. Today’s track, “Slack Hit Thirty”, is one my many favourites from the album based on nostalgic quality alone. Recalling some common teenage experiences many of us thirty-somethings share, Vic sings “I remember turning fourteen, the holy kids in all their ripped up jeans, dye their hair with cherry Kool-Aid, just like Kurt in Circus Magazine.”
Visit Vic’s Bandcamp site and download Vick & The Hickory Switch – Clown Princess Could Not Sleep today, for free, and experience the unique genius of Victor Lewis for yourself.