Butchers of Sky Valley: Butchers of Sky Valley

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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Butchers of Sky Valley
Butchers of Sky Valley
(Heeled & Heavy)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Welcome to the eclectic blues based world of NYC based Butchers of Sky Valley. Like Hendrix, Zeppelin, Morphine, Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss (whose Welcome to Sky Valley album partially inspired their name) the group takes the raw basics of the blues genre and transforms them into a distinctive, challenging and unique sound. From the opening power riff of the surging “Black Magic” to the closing acoustic swirl of the hypnotic East Indian influenced instrumental “Tatuniu,” the Butchers revamp their roots into a churning, psychedelic, whirlpool that feels as natural and spontaneous as it is wildly creative.

Unfortunately, over the six years it took to create this terrific debut there have been substantial changes to the lineup. Guitarist/bassist co-songwriter John Cosenza has stopped performing with the group (he’s still involved in the background) leaving only frontman/singer Mike Mokotow as the lone member who recorded this idiosyncratic and stirring set.

There’s a clear Jim Morrison vibe to Mokotow’s vocals and a vaguely Doors approach to songs such as the swamp grind of “Get Loose” that harkens back to an earlier era. But this is no slavish rehash, especially due to Cosenza’s hot-wired yet never shred worthy solos. Even on standard rockers such as the Cult-ish “Pony Up” there is an adrenalized rush that keeps the songs fresh and vital.

How this translates to whoever goes on the road backing up Mokotow is unclear. But the Butchers that recorded this powerful, long time in the making first album at least have left a vibrant, detailed and inspired blueprint to work from.

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