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Review: Vista Chino’s Peace

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What’s in a name? If you’re Vista Chino, quite a lot. For one, the moniker for these veteran stoner rockers sounds like a retirement community in Brentwood (“spend your final days in beautiful Vista Chino!”)

And two, because Vista Chino is the unfortunate name you end up with after you lose a lawsuit and a few key band members. For the few who don’t know, VC used to be Kyuss, the much beloved psychedelic/desert rockers. They once released a song about flip-flops called “Thong Song,” which isn’t really their main legacy, but is nonetheless hilarious.

Kyuss begat Queens of the Stone Age — you may have heard of them — and Mondo Generator and a million other collabs/spinoffs that really all kind of sound similar, all psychedelic bludgeoning and groovy vibes, like a hippie Sabbath.

It also birthed, a few years back, Kyuss Lives! (exclamation theirs), an attempt by three of Kyuss’s members (sans Josh Homme) to relive past glories. A retro-flavored band going retro — so meta. A pissy lawsuit by Homme ended that, as well as Nick Oliveri’s involvement.

So we are left with frontman John Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork, who — name aside — stubbornly remain fixated on their past. Peace is for all intents and purposes a Kyuss record, full of long passages, psychedelic riffing and song titles like “Acidize – The Gambling Moose” (which, since I’m ripping on names, is actually pretty interesting).

Differences between past and present are minor: Garcia sounds a bit more screechy, ever slightly more “metal.” The production maybe a bit more lo-fi. The two one-minute instrumentals are extraneous; the longer tracks (like “Acidize”) could use a bit of trimming. But overall, Vista Chino produces exactly the type of record you’d expect a couple of guys from Kyuss would produce in 2013: a Kyuss record, just not in name.

Vista Chino’s Peace comes out September 3 on Napalm. Stream the track “Dragona Dragona” here and pre-order the album here.

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