Fronted by the charismatic energy of Timothy Gassen, Marshmallow Overcoat has been keeping the spirit of psychedelic garage rock alive and kicking since 1986. A brace of critically praised albums, scads of smashing singles, numerous compilation contributions, DVDs, and worldwide tours have allowed these paisley-hearted crusaders consistent visibility.
The latest gift from the hard-working Tucson, Arizona band is The Very Best Of (Garage Nation Records), which is available as either a digital download or a double gatefold vinyl album. As always, it’s the music that commands attention, but the package provides even more ground for the pound, with its inclusion of rare photographs and extensive liner notes, while the cyberspace edition adds a trio of videos to the party.
Play The Very Best Of to a someone not aware of Marshmallow Overcoat, and there is no doubt they would think they were hearing a long lost act from the 60s. From the scraggly fuzz guitars to the bell-toned riffs to the rumbling keyboards to the thrashing tub-thumping to the snagging hooks, the band revises all the applications of the genre they mine with remarkable perfection. Timothy’s growling snarl teases, taunts, and thrills the listener in the same manner howlers and hipsters such as Gerry Roslie of the Sonics, Sky Saxon from the Seeds, and the Music Machine’s Sean Bonniwell were known for doing. Churning out songs with animated determination, Marshmallow Overcoat has their fingers, toes, and ears on the pulse each beat of the way.
Accurately titled, The Very Best Of definitely does teem with ace pickings, and far too many to go into much detail about. But I will state I’m personally partial to the twinkling twelve-string action of “Suddenly Sunday,” with its breathtaking blend of wistful moodiness and blinding blue sky beauty, the spooky lure of “When It’s Dark,” the inspired moves and matter of “Beverly Pepper,” a cover of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s acid-drenched “Tomorrow Never Knows” that offers a slower but no less freaky approach than the original version, and the romping wildness of “Santa Fuzz” and “The Knights Of Fuzz,” which needless to say both surge forth with bursts of buzzing fuzz.
Other tracks I dare not omit are “13 Ghosts,” “The Light Show,” “Spell I’m Under,” “Thee Hands Of Tyme,” “Psilocybin Explosion,” “The Beyond,” and a piping hot rendition of Tommy Jett’s “Groovy Little Trip,” that screams and stomps with insanity.
Kudos to Marshmallow Overcoat for never compromising their position. Sticking to sounds they believe in, the band is a ray of sunshine in a scene dominated by trends, fashion, and profit. Marshmallow Overcoat are the ultimate role models, having not only influenced a legion of fuzz heads and tambourine bashers, but Timothy has also been a staunch supporter of the garage rock community on a variety of levels.
Those with a taste for the raw and rousing, but hopelessly catchy missives of groups like the Wailers, the Shadows Of Knight, the Haunted, the Unrelated Segments, Zakary Thaks, and Blues Magoos, as well as the shimmery folk rock of the Byrds and the surrealistic aroma of the Doors and Love, are for certain to adore the prizes contained within The Very Best Of and will applaud Marshmallow Overcoat for carrying the torch.