I'm a sucker for a live-to-tape recordings. I'm also a sucker for boot-stomping, blunt-blazing, hallelujah-hailing psych rock the way only San Francisco produces. On behalf of my ears, I'd like to thank Sonny Smith for making Cool Ghouls' A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye sound outright amazing. He even manages to fit in a saxophone on 'Insight'.
Cool Ghouls may never make a better album than A Swirling Fire. I certainly believe they could, but any band's lifespan is unknown and thousand small instances usually factor into the making of an album so that it's nearly impossible to make music that so beautifully destroys quite like what they've given us here. What A Swirling Fire captures and what Cool Ghouls have been able to conjure up in 2014 is magical; not only transportative (What a Dream I Had) but immediate (Reelin'). I won't even complain that, aside from 'And It Grows' and 'What a Dream I Had', there's a curious lack of soloing here.
A Swirling Fire sets Cool Ghouls up as the new kings of Bay Area psych rock in my mind; especially since what I recently heard from Howlin' Rain is decidedly far-leaning-country influenced. They deserve recognition for getting or allowing every moving piece to work so well together.
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans