Vista Chino: Peace

For an album titled Peace, the debut from desert rockers Vista Chino—featuring vocalist John Garcia, bassist Nick Oliveri and drummer Brant Bjork—arrives after a long stretch of anything but. Following a stint of tours with the three former Kyuss bandmates and guitarist Bruno Fevery under the moniker Kyuss Lives! and a lawsuit from former Kyuss guitarist Joshua Homme (now of Queens Of The Stone Age) over the Kyuss name, Vista Chino could just as easily be pleading for peace as basking in it, though songs like “Dark And Lovely,” “Adara” and “Barcelonian” would seem to hint at the latter.

On the other hand, cuts like “Dargona Dragona,” “Sweet Remain,” “As You Wish” and “Planets 1 & 2” seem to deal directly with the aforementioned litigation in their lyrics and overall mood. That would seem incongruous with the generally nonaggressive heaviness of desert rock, but if anyone was going to make that work it would be these guys, and they do. Peace not only captures much of what was so groundbreaking in Kyuss’ approach, but expands the scope and gives a modern impression. It’s not trying to sound like it’s 1994, in other words, and even “Planets 1 & 2,” which directly references Kyuss’ “Green Machine” in its riff, does so purposefully and takes it somewhere else, Bjork taking on vocal duties alongside Garcia; something he never did in their prior outfit.

As influential as they’ve been, Kyuss remains an underground band and I’d expect Vista Chino will do the same, but the spirit of this music deserves to be heard without prejudiced judgment, and in Fevery’s sweet fuzz, Garcia’s dead-on vocals, and the tight grooves held together by Oliveri (since out of the band and replaced on tour by Mike Dean of C.O.C.) and Bjork, Peace might be the beginning of a new heavy rock legacy for these long-celebrated players.

In A Word: Sands