Languorously loose and laid back. Gloriously stoned psyche-country anthems from Vermont’s marijuana-farming couple.
Release Date: 18th February 2022
Label: Paper Cup Music
Formats: Download, Streaming
There’ll always be a welcoming niche for a band like Drug Couple. Proud stoners, the duo left their Brooklyn home to seek a more pastoral life and they’re now comfortably ensconced in acid-soaked married bliss in the Vermont countryside, where they farm marijuana and make music in their barn-conversion of a studio to which they’ve assigned the name Freelandia – I’m assuming in honour of the defunct counterculture airline…
Drug Couple are Miles and Becca Robinson and Stoned Weekend is their debut album and, if you have a liking for The Lemonheads, Yo La Tengo, Uncle Tupelo, Dinosaur Jr, or even Neil Young in his grungier moods, then Drug Couple’s signature languorously loose, laid back and deliciously stoned fare is probably just what you’ll be looking for. Miles plays guitar, bass, harmonica and keyboards; Becca plays bass, guitar and harmonica. Both provide vocals – Miles in the lazy, often slurred style that you’ll expect from a band that wears their druggy credentials so proudly and Becca with surprising vulnerability and intimacy – and when they harmonise – well – that’s a treat indeed. To fill out the sound on Stoned Weekend, the couple are joined by guests Pastor Greg Faison on drums, Danny Meyer on sax and piano and Travis Rosenburg, whose pedal steel contributions are a particular album highlight.
Described as “Like the holiday for your head you never knew you needed,” Stoned Weekend is urgent, distorted, lo-fi and gloriously stoned. Whilst clearly absorbing influences from the aforementioned Lemonheads et al, their sound is, essentially, unique – laced with Miles’s sometimes considered, sometimes manic metallic guitar – and the songs make you long for a lazy, warm summer afternoon in which to savour your dreams.
Listeners will realise that something special is happening as soon as the opening chords of the spacy, psychedelic title track are struck. Twangy, discordant guitars join the mix, and Miles’s spaced-out vocal is the perfect medium for the song’s subject matter – encapsulated in the “Stoned weekend/ I hope this weekend never ends” refrain. Think of Bowie’s Memory Of A Free Festival and you’ll get the idea. Missed Our Chance is classic indie rock, complete with distorted guitars, lo-fi drums and mumbled vocals – it’s vibrant, joyously life-affirming and comes complete with a guitar solo that sounds like a swarm of intoxicated wasps!
Drug Couple gave us a brief foretaste of what to expect from their new album by releasing a couple of the album’s tracks as singles, and the first of these to see the light, the excellent Lemon Trees is outstanding. The pace is slightly reined-in and we get our first taste of those wonderful vocal harmonies on a song with a country-ish feel, full of clangy guitars and a rock-solid bass.
Miles delivers another woozily stoned vocal on the grungy Linda’s Tripp. The song is built around a descending guitar riff that could have been lifted from Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive, and there’s lots going on the background to keep even the most intrepid seeker of cosmic enlightenment fully occupied. In contrast. Little Do I Know is a sultry slow-burner of a song. Becca’s vocal is intimate and melodic, so it’s all the more surprising when Miles pulls off what is possiblly the most distorted guitar solo you’ll ever hear…
All of the album’s real strong points come together for the excellent Den Bongo. Thudding bass and a crashing drumbeat provide the backing for what is perhaps the best shared vocal delivery on the album, and Travis’s soaring pedal steel is the icing on the cake. Things get even better with Blue Water – maybe my favourite track on the album. Miles plays a clean, simple (yet highly effective) strummed guitar lick and Travis once again fills in the gaps with more of that pedal steel. It’s country-derived, but with a delightfully psychedelic sparkle that reminds me of The Byrds at their experimental best.
Current single Our December contrasts a punky, dirty two-chord riff and some glorious, churning lead guitar with a gloriously melodic vocal. The song was the band’s Christmas celebration and was intended to “…shirk the seasonal schmaltz to send 2021 packing with a rousing slacker-rock anthem for the end of days.” Mission accomplished!
Things become distinctly spooky as crashing cymbals, an incessant clacking rhythm and a ponderous Hank Marvin-like guitar introduce the dreamy, ghostly Wyld Child. Becca’s vocal is her best yet, and the song builds and becomes more and more unsettling as it does so, until Becca sings the pivotal line, “Her flowers never bloom…” – the cue for things to get deeply psychedelic.
The album closes as it began – with a reprise of the Stoned Weekend theme, peppered with stoned giggles and some more great guitar soloing to send the album – and all of us – on our dreamy, meandering, lysergic way. Stoned Weekend is fun – roll a fat one and lie back…
Listen to Lemon Trees – a track from the album – here: