In the opening moments of “Never Fight Her Flow,” the opening track off Million Dollar Fix’s latest EP, we are assaulted by a rich, fuzzy wall of sound, which slips beautifully into a high-energy monster of a track. This is the beginning of Million Dollar Fix’s brilliant new work, Psychedelephant. From that moment forward, the album’s thrashy, riff-heavy intensity pushes onward and doesn’t lose momentum right up to the closing track, “Kill the Banker.”
But MDF is not your classic stoner rock quartet. Despite the fast-paced, party-boy nature of the band’s music, there is a progressive sophistication that shimmers within the songs. The band’s addictive, off-kilter sense of harmony comes into play in cyclical guitar patterns throughout the record. Logan Derby’s vocal performance has a powerful edge while maintaining a modesty that gives the chaotic nature of the songs a nice sense of humanity. Backing it all up is the driving force of the group, the band’s tightly-knit rhythm section, consisting of Keegan Costella’s fat, juicy bass tone, eloquently matched by Jeff “Shibby” Smith’s tight, no-bullshit drumming.
“There are no egos in this band,” says lead guitarist Brad Weidlich while describing the band’s collaborative writing style. And it’s obvious that, despite each musician’s own talent, the songs shine as a collective rather than as individual performances. Though the music embraces a heavy, in-your-face attitude throughout, it also wields a refreshing appreciation for those little subtleties that make for a great sonic experience. This is one of those albums that gets better every time you hear it.
Though Psychedelephant is the band’s sophomore release, it marks a new beginning for the band. “The last record was more of a learning experience for us, I think,” says Shibby, explaining that, although the band loves their old songs, they have completely reinvented themselves and are eager to share their new sound. When asked about what they thought was their biggest step forward as a group since their last record, their response was prompt and simple: “We got Brad.” This is the first MDF recording that features Weidlich on lead guitar and his addition to the band roster is a huge step forward musically for the group.
“Since Brad has joined the band, we have really tightened up. We have really come into ourselves and polished up our up sound,” explains Derby. “We are not just a hooligan party band from Calgary any more. We have become a lot more professional about it.” The band has matured greatly since their last release and the new record is a testament to that. “These songs have been about six months in the making and they are the best songs we have,” says Derby.
A good album would not be complete without a good producer and MDF has found their man in Kirill Telichev, of Sound Priory. “He’s like this crazy Russian dude who drinks way too much coffee,” says Derby, “and he did an absolutely amazing job.” And he’s right; the mix is impeccable. Telichev’s production on the record is punchy and full of natural energy. The guitars sound huge and beefy, the bass has perfectly crafted crunchy low-end and the drums have explosive driving momentum that pulls everything together. As huge as the mix sounds, it is far from over-produced. The songs on the record exist exactly as they are played, with no filler. “The record sounds just like what you would hear at Million Dollar Fix live show, without all the technical problems with the venue’s PA,” says Shibby.
Psychedelephant has raw unstoppable energy from front to back and is an incredible auditory experience that puts MDF’s abilities as accomplished songwriters on display. “We are really excited about this release,” exclaims Derby. “This is the real start for our band.” Clearly, we have a lot to look forward to from Million Dollar Fix.
Million Dollar Fix will release Psychedelephant on March 14 at the Palomino. Listen to it in full below.
By Taylor Cochrane
Photo: Jennifer Briggs