Garcia Peoples – Nightcap at Wits’ End

Nightcap at Wits’ End is Garcia Peoples at their highest evolved state yet.

Following three scintillating records released within two years of each other—and an insanely busy gigging schedule (prior to COVID, of course)—you’d think these guys would want a rest. Yet, this album finds the New Jersey band tirelessly moving forward, perfectly capturing their on-stage sound and energy in the studio, expanding their sonic palette and sharpening their lyrical skills to a profound degree.

The record opens with the ripping “Gliding Through,” which is going to forever be an ace up the band’s sleeve during concerts. With charging riffs and some of drummer’s Cesar Arakaki’s most aggressive kit action committed to wax yet, this is Garcia Peoples revealing just how heavy they can be. Additionally, the song’s tendency to mash up catchy melodic verses and Pete Townshend-esque harmonic vocals with murky acid-fueled choruses sets the tone for the entire record. All across the album, you’ll find sweetly catchy tunes that splinter off into heady prog rock directions, as if the music itself is repeatedly getting dosed.

Perhaps the best example of this is the extended suite of tracks on the B-side of the LP, starting with “One at a Time.” Starting this collective of songs with the record’s first single was a fantastic choice, as it sets things off into a driving (nearly) Canned Heat direction. It’s a pop-minded rocker that swells with scorching power chords and Jansch-ian acoustic fingerpicking.

From here, the suite bursts into a fierce but brief jam (“Our Life Could be Your Van”), before rolling into the propulsive, yet dreamlike “Crown of Thought.” After the cosmically shimmering “Sound Controls Time,” and the atmospheric meditation that is “A Reckoning,” the suite implodes with “Litmus.” This track rattles, screeches and roars like a feedback nightmare, as if all of the record’s energy is coming to a head. Once the screams of the guitars finally die down, the beautiful “Shadow” emerges from the wreckage.

This song easily could be the most elegant ballad within Garcia Peoples’ entire discography. Danny Arakaki’s gentle vocals guide the band into a place of peace, as fingserstyle guitar, synths and Pat Gubler’s pastoral flute provide a deeply dreamy backdrop. It feels as though the band is tucking the listener into bed and serenading them off to sleep. What better way to close an album titled Nightcap at Wit’s End?

Totally packed with nothing but instant classics and studio brilliance, this record is exactly why Garcia Peoples have developed the following that they currently posses. If you haven’t climbed aboard the bus yet, this album might just be the ticket you’ve been waiting for.

Preorder your copy of this excellent LP from Beyond Beyond is Beyond ahead of its release on Friday.

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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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