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Album review: The Peoples Temple’s ‘Sons of Stone’

Peoples temple sons of stone HoZac Records' spring releases include superb limited-edition punk singles from bands such as Timmy’s Organism and Red Mass, but the most exciting item on the label’s roster is the long-awaited long player "Sons of Stone" from cosmic garage monsters the Peoples Temple. Last year, the Lansing, Mich., band, which formed in 2007, released a pair of stellar singles, including the haunting "Make You Understand" seven-inch from the HoZac Records singles club, a mind-bending barnstormer of a modern psych record that heralded great things to come.

"Sons of Stone" will not disappoint admirers of those earlier efforts. Co-produced by Lansing music journalist Rich Tupica (who released last year's Nolan Strong tribute compilation with Norton records), the reverb-drenched, fuzz-laden album combines influences such as blues, R&B and Big Beat for a fresh and invigorating approach to '60s-inspired garage rock. The album evokes the good-natured snarl and straightforward rock 'n’ roll approach of disgruntled teen bands on classic '60s garage comps such as "Boulders," "Back From the Grave" and "What a Way to Die" without being precious –- or overly retro -- about it.

The Peoples Temple dishes out plenty of highlights, including "Sons of Stone (Revisited)," a rhythmic instrumental jam that features overlays of tenuous guitars and a looped tribal chant, and "The Surf," a Rolling Stones-inspired black-lighted midnight dirge. The festive "Starstreamer," which churns forward over a faux loop of screaming fans, deliberately evokes John’s Children’s 1967 "Orgasmo" album.

While there’s plenty of far-out love-generation imagery on display, there’s also a dark underbelly to the whole affair. "Sons of Stone" is flower-power music recast for a sicker age. After all, a band named after Jim Jones’ suicidal 1970s cult can’t help but possess a cynical side.

-- Jason Gelt

The Peoples Temple
“Sons of Stone”
HoZac Records
Three stars (out of four)

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