Growers, settlers, sumptuous shufflers stretching out a tired finger and reeling back not too far from the prone position — but back nonetheless. Nearly 40 minutes to devote to lazy graces and countless hours hence, Matt Valentine & Erika Elder are here for you as ever. Something dry and dusty and comfy and perhaps a little mildewed to ease you into a rare, sleepily sound satisfaction. There is a currentless drift to these nine doggypaddlers, what with the sloppy rhythms, plain-as-dirt vocals, and obligatory wah solos — but it’s all so satisfying in its way.
Not that there aren’t some strong hooks. The wistful singing of the title during Valentine’s reverb-y spoken word muttering makes “Sweet Sure Gone” a highlight. The penultimate track, “Wasteland,” has a pretty sturdy chorus aided in no small part by Erika’s enchanting echo answer to Matt’s “Waaaaaaasteland.” And it’s fun the way “digging the nature scene” clumsily sits at the end of the verses in “Workingman’s Smile.”
But Space Homestead is no plate of vittles. It’s a stop-start fetid breeze pocket in which to ensconce yourself and happily wither. It’s music of strength in decay and blind perseverance when it seems most pointless. It’s oddly demanding for being such a mellow recording. One moment you’re in a slow watertube spin and the next you’re sputtering about in shallow, sodden water with a face full of blackflies. It’s grounded for how foggy it is, and perhaps it’s just that classic combination of earnestness and what-the-fuck-let’s-do-this-ness of everything this duo unleashes on us. The music is too character-rich to be slight and too pointed to be mere stoner rock. (That being said, “Too Far To See” is one of the sweetest bullshit-free stoner jams I’ve laid ears on in ages.)
It’s comforting to know these guys are still out there doing what they do so well. I highly recommend seeing ’em if you get the chance. Their shows are a good spot of heady doubled-up galaxy twang, and they’ve got a better catalog of strong material than ever now. In the meantime, if you were to dive into this group’s vast recorded output, Space Homestead ain’t a bad spot to get acquainted.
01. Heart Like Barbara Steele
02. Workingman’s Smile
03. Sweet Sure Gone
04. Shit’s Creek
05. Common Ground
07. Too Far To See