Certain music just sounds better on vinyl. Sometimes I hear a track from a particular artist and can’t help but say, “Dang, I wish I had this on vinyl.” The second I heard a track from Cactus Flowers, I knew that would be the case. Their sound would just be elevated by being played on a turntable. I didn’t say anything to them and was just thankful they were going to give me a shot at reviewing some of their music but I was so relieved when I got a cute little care package that contained their 2019 album ‘Incantations’ on vinyl. Maybe they read my mind and knew that’s what I wanted or maybe they just know their sound that well to know it would sound so great on vinyl. Regardless, I was thankful for the record (and cassette, and stickers, and beautiful pin– thanks guys!) and was anxious to pop it onto my turntable for a spin.
“I See In Auras” kicks this album off perfectly and really establishes the sound that I fell in love with Cactus Flowers for. It’s edgy and in your face but it’s also almost psychedelic and laidback at the same time. This opening track has a bit of a bite to it. It draws you in and intrigues you as it gives you a taste of this trio without giving it all away on the opening track. I feel like the band really hits their stride as the album moves forward to “Hungry & Thirsty”. This second track isn’t a far cry from “I See In Auras” but I feel like the band’s sound just fills out a bit more for this song and helps sink this band’s claws into your soul. The instrumentation isn’t complicated-sounding but it fits perfectly with the vocals.
A fuzzy guitar sound (that sounds like pure perfection on vinyl) kicks off “Dragonfly”. This was an instant favorite of mine Although you can still hear this aggressive and almost dangerous aspect in the vocals, there’s something oddly inviting to it. There’s an almost 90’s feeling to the chorus on this track that I could listen to for hours. That chorus is followed up by a very Black Keys-styled instrumentation for a few seconds. This old vs. new thing is something that can be heard throughout this nine-song album and something that Cactus Flowers does so well.
The fuzziness on the guitars disappears for “Turquoise Prince” making this a stand-out track. This entire track just feels a little bit more sensual, a little darker, and just a bit cleaner. I’m not saying that that’s a good or bad thing. Honestly, it’s impressive that this band can go from a super gritty and aggressive style to this within just a song without it being a shock to the system. There’s a super cool guitar effect throughout this track that makes the waves of sound even more apparent and almost dizzying. Usually, I use the term “dizzy” when referring to millions of notes being fit into just one beat but this track gives that word a whole different definition.
“Veiled” brings that 90’s sound I got in “Dragonfly” and brings it to the spotlight. This is a super sweet song that really takes that cleanliness of “Turquoise Prince” and expands on it in a way that I honestly didn’t think I’d get from Cactus Flowers. Although this isn’t my favorite track on the album it absolutely stood out to me and it wasn’t until my needle hit the middle of the LP that I realized it was time to lip to the other side.
The second side of this album starts off with a sense of aggression as “Late Nite Rio” kicks in. This track opens with a sound much darker than what I had heard on the other side but I loved it and this was an instant favorite of mine. The way the vocals make you feel the words, not just hear them, is simply brilliant and really adds an element to this song that makes it stand out. The energy continues for “Choke” which continues with this sense of darkness that I didn’t know Cactus Flowers could do but does so well. The vocals take a very pinpointed approach to the words in this track almost emulating a stabbing knife. Why do I have a stabbing knife in my mind? I don’t know but just listen to this track and see if you get that same feeling.
The darkness falls aside as “Free Fall” takes over and brings the psychedelic influence heard throughout this album to the forefront. This is a very sweet song with gorgeous lyrics to match. This will absolutely be a song that I keep in my back pocket for when I need to just chill out a little bit and, well, “free fall”. I honestly would have been more than happy to have this album end with “Free Fall” but “Redwood Siren” comes in to close out this album. It’s more of the psychedelic vibes felt in “Free Fall” but there’s something just a little more organic and hippy about this track. I love the fact that it ends on this kind of note whereas the album started off with an edgy bite. The fact that the first and last tracks are so different yet still both very Cactus Flowers says everything you need to know about this amazing album.
My Favorite Track(s): “Dragonfly”; “Late Nite Riot”
For Fans Of: Psychedelic Music; Edgy Aggression; Energy
Mosh-ability: 3 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid right on my arm so blame him for any typos; Autumn tried to eat the puzzle I have going on my dining room table
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 6.8 out of 10
Check Out Cactus Flowers Here:
Shameless Self Promotion- Donate Here To Keep This Blog Alive!