ALBUM: Cellar Doors ‘Cellar Doors’

If we’re to accept that we live in transitional times and that political shifts have, for a long while, starved the arts of much-needed funding, then this eponymously-named debut musical statement from Cellar Doors arrives just in time.

Having performed at festivals including Levitation (Austin, TX), Shiiine On Weekender (UK) and Liverpool Festival Of Psychedelia, the band now delivers a debut that defiantly sidesteps the cant and pays homage to music of much-missed glory days.

This three-piece (Sean Fitzsimmons, vocals and guitars; Jason Witz, bass and keyboards; and Miki Rogulj, drums) has made the decision to sagely nod to the psychedelic records of their West Coast forefathers. The 10-song album opens with the locomotive ‘City Girl’ and showcases the exemplary musicianship that this band is all about. It continues with ‘Silhouette’, a track with enough Cali elan to mark Cellar Doors as a band to watch.

Recorded at Coyote Hearing Studios in Oakland, California (with production and engineering by Jeremy Black) and Skylab in LA, it’s right to suggest that the album’s soundscape owes something to Joy Division, but it would be churlish to play down the muscle of West Coast players who also owe much to the influence of 13th Floor Elevators and Dinosaur Jr.

Call it a new psychedelia. Melodic and angular, also a wall of sound in great stretches, it’s muscled and marbled with a strain that is wholly contemporary; the band is also capable of a gentle touch, as with the closing track ‘Wild Heart’. Being of the desired length, the songs are perfect for radio play yet are almost too arresting for listeners who’ve for too long (in the UK) been weaned on a diet of Radio 2 ear rot (not that they can’t be re-educated, of course).

The trio is picking up from where Little Barrie have paused. The attitude and statement is to be applauded, as is the knowingness with which they comport themselves; the sound on sale here is careful, curated and real. As music ought to be. It’s a very pleasurable album and cheers in places other fare fails to reach. Buy it.

‘Cellar Doors’ is out in the UK on 1 February 2019 on Here Here

Jason Holmes