In this age of information glut, it can difficult to keep up. Granted, there are many tools at our disposal. We have RSS magick; we have the anarchic democracy of tagging; we have friends feeding real-time listening stats and instantaneously posting show footage. But despite our efforts to keep the pace, it feels like the only real solution is having a biometric port capable of directly uploading to the brain. This info drunkenness, like a bad case of the spins, makes it difficult to focus, to stop and properly digest. Neo may know kung fu, but can he appreciate it?
Pocahaunted exemplifies this quandary. With something like 40 releases since 2007, getting to know this LA band is more than a little difficult. The sheer amount of material should breed familiarity. Instead, we just get obfuscation. Did you hear Rough Magic? It was on cassette and limited to only 50 copies. The job of the reviewer is thus to catch fish with a broken net. You are left only with your direct experiences with the material, moments that tie it down and secure it to your memory. Making out with a girl with A Tear For Every Grain Of Sand wafting in the background; muddy-headed, sitting in a stupor after a long day with the heavy vibes of Island Diamonds. For Pocahaunted, there has been no solid, definitive body of work. No widely understood point of reference. Not until now.
Make It Real is by far Pocahaunted’s most focused, approachable effort to date. After a six-month hiatus with founding members pursuing other projects — Beth Costantino making it “big” with Best Coast (and leaving the band), and Amanda Brown reveling in the arid haze of Topaz Rags — Make It Real is an album that lives up to its title, serving to give definite form to a previously amorphous band. Strangely enough, the presence of some significant collaborators has helped Pocahaunted define their sound. M. Geddes Gengras (Robedoor) brings a rock-solid low-end to the band’s previously lithe sound. Britt Brown works in his extra-sensory guitar funk. The sax magick of Alex Gray (Dreamcolour) provides some needed skronk. Functioning now more as a loose collective of the like-minded, Pocahaunted has finally realized itself.
The major difference between Make It Real and every other Pocahaunted release to date is the presence of digestible songs. On prior releases, songs would average eight minutes (at least). Here, there’s a handful of songs clocking in at under five. The opening salvo of “Touch You” and “Make It Real” are wonderful nuggets that highlight the band’s newfound penchant for hypnotic grooves. The presence of Brown’s psych guitar, Diva Dompe laying down syrupy basslines, and some wonderfully throwback organ-grinding by Cameron Stallones (Sun Araw) make for the most instantly enjoyable Pocahaunted songs to date. And, of course, there is the shamanic vocal tag-teaming, not simply aiming to invoke desert spirits as in the past, but now also invoking your ass to get up and move. “All Of Is Of” and “Sanctuary” are both nimble little jams. Even the extended numbers seem to have more focus, more life. “UFO” and “You Do Voo Doo” advance like opaque apparitions, all the parts jiving in lock-step unison. The longer ones are best enjoyed like a 3D picture hunt: the less you focus, the more you see.
Make It Real is a much-needed entry point to Pocahaunted’s vast body of work. Now, instead of getting tongue-tied and promising to make your friends a mix that you’ll never get around to, you can point them toward this utterly enjoyable album. And if you are new to Pocahaunted’s realm, Make It Real will indeed be a very real experience for you. In this case, “accessible” is far from a dirty word, instead functioning as a totemic key for all to grasp.