Driving music—that’s the kind of music Pharaohs in Space make. Their latest record, Big Dumb Heart, could be the soundtrack for a whole day and night spent road tripping. The songs stretch from the laid back California country of Graham Parsons to the kind of rock ‘n roll Americana twang you’d expect from the American South.
From the first revving tune, Hype Man, the band gets you rolling along with crunchy bass and guitar riffing through a wheel tapping melody with head bobbing back beat. You can hear in the vocal tune of singer and guitarist, Zach White, a hint of the greatest driving song of all time—Canned Heat’s Going up the Country. Throw in his inflection somewhere between Mick Jagger and Jay Mascis and a twangy six string solo then you find the kind of classic elements the band blends to make their mile moving music.
The first part of the record takes you through your sunny day drive. With songs like Heavens to Gramma and Putting in my Bid, they’ll mix a jumpy ska rhythm into the breezy sound of this first act. A couple of slower, mellower numbers such as Poor Carpenter and All Those Stars with its Son Volt like sound will get you through any traffic along your ride
The latter half of the record has you breezing through the night in a crowded neon district. It starts with what’s surely the crowd pleaser—a rambunctious number called Usually. The up-tempoed, driving beat of Jorg Hohmann’s drumming along with Ryan Morton’s sizzling, walking bass, all this behind a smoking lick, would have anyone within range of your car speakers dancing in the streets.
Moving you along are the slow rollers like the Southern, blue eyed soul of How Come and the steamy, twelve bars of Good Thing Goin. All this time you’ve been humming along to White’s loose tongue melodies but then he belts out a tight soulful tune with How Come hitting notes like the kin of Doctor John and Van Morrison, the music sounding like you’re riding through Muscle Shoals, Beale Street, and New Orleans all in an evening.
Big Dumb Heart takes you out with the speaker blasting sing along of Sinus of the Times—a tongue in cheek ode to rock ‘n rolls number one white knuckle ride for a those necessary 90 miles per hour burners down a dark, empty interstate.
Even though this road trip’s coming to an end there’s still one more number—Without You—a good title for your final moments with Big Dumb Heart. The tune’s long instrumental intro plays you back onto familiar highways when you see through blurry, red eyes the horizon colored sky, and you know you’re almost home. For these times, Pharaohs in Space make the perfect music—driving music.