Album Reviews

Axxa/Abraxas: Not Your Average Stoner Pop


Axxa/Abraxas is the moniker of one Ben Asbury, a man creating psychedelic stoner pop that very much fits the vein of Captured Tracks, who released the band’s self-titled LP back in what looks like early March. I’m just now catching wind of this album, and it has taken me by storm.

By that, I mean this: Axxa/Abraxas has absolutely dominated my iPod the past week, and there are a few key reasons why.

First, the music Axxa/Abraxas creates blends an assortment of pop sub-genre traits: psychedelic, jangle, stoner. These styles all work well on their own, but it takes a special talent to make them work together. Others have done it — Mac DeMarco, also of Captured Tracks. In fact, you’ll find this sound throughout Captured Tracks (it makes the label among the more intriguing, especially if that sound is your penchant).

Second, dive into a song like “Going Forth” and you’ll hear a hint of WOODS in both the songwriting and vocals — and WOODS have been a favorite of mine these past few years. Bend Beyond was my #1 LP from 2012 and WOODS’ follow up in With Light And With Love may find them pulling it off again. (No surprise; the album was mixed and engineered, as I found out after making the connection, by WOODS member Jarvis Taveniere.)

Combine the best of both worlds: The jangly guitar meanderings and organ wanderings of DeMarco, the uniquely falsetto vocals and percussion of WOODS, and you’ll have Axxa/Abraxas. Part of me hates doing such a rudimentary comparison, but it’s what I hear, especially in songs like “Beyond The Wind” and “I Almost Fell”:

This is the sound of Captured Tracks. If you dig Mac DeMarco; if you enjoy Craft Spells; hell, if you can even get a few head nods off the label’s reissue for Saâda Bonaire — you’ll like this.

I find it slightly odd that the second song chosen to push was “On The Run”.

To be honest, it’s one of my least favorites on the LP. Not surprisingly, it can be found toward the end and I’ve found the album to be front-heavy. My favorites precede even “I Almost Fell” at track three: opener “Ryan Michalak (Is Coming to Town)” and its successor “Going Forth”.

Don’t let that sway you. This is an album I could listen to on repeat for hours — and that’s something I’ve done already.

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