The Rickety Old Shack

Kyuss — Welcome To Sky Valley

album cover

Releasing a successful follow-up to a stand-out album like Blues for the Red Sun is a pretty daunting task, but somehow Kyuss managed to do just that. In similar fashion to their vaunted sophomore album, Welcome to Sky Valley showcases a band still improving their sound and honing their musical craft. The band's fusion of 70s hard rock and newage desert jams gets even tighter on this record — due in no small part to the addition of Scott Reeder on bass. Kyuss hit the ground running with Wretch and show no signs of slowing down on this third record.

Those who listen to the physical CD release will notice that there are technically only 3 tracks; the band saw fit to staple the songs together such that the album is 3 tracks comprised of 3 distinct songs. As someone who almost exclusively listens to albums in their entirety, this is is no big deal, but I imagine those who liked to skip from track-to-track felt somewhat trolled back in the day — especially when they got to the unlisted, barbershop-style hidden track "Lick My Doo." It has no effect on the album whatsoever, and in this modern, digital age, you're probably listening to individual MP3 files anyway. For whatever reason Kyuss opted to do this, I found it amusing — and right in line with their peculiarities as a group.

Welcome to Sky Valley is packed full of 50 minutes prime Kyuss material. Depending on what day you ask me, it's either this album or Blues For The Red Sun which get the nod from me as the band's best work. Each track flows perfectly into the next, and the band's transitions back-and-forth between straight-forward rock and long, spaced-out jams are all on point. The guitars are still massively fuzzed out and, despite being played through a bass amp, leave plenty of room in the mix for Scott Reeder's grooving rhythms to flesh out the band's sound further. Likewise, John Garcia's voice is in top shape and Brant Bjork's drums are the perfectly compelement to everything else. Welcome To Sky Valley truly sounds like a band at the height of their powers.

The most notable track on the album is "Demon Cleaner," one of Kyuss' most enduring songs. This track gives the bass guitar a wonderful spotlight, as the real lead of the song, and John Garcia's vocals lend a somewhat subdued, casually haunting sound to my all-time favourite track from this band. The record also includes other staples such as "Gardenia," "Conan Troutman," "100 Degrees" and more. Aside from the aforementioned bonus track, there isn't a wasted moment anywhere to be found on Welcome To Sky Valley.

Summary

Another first-rate album from the stoner rock pioneers in Kyuss. Not only did they successfully follow-up the vaunted Blues For The Red Sun, they exceeded the watermark it left depending on who you ask. Either way, this is another must-have album for rock fans, as it illustrates the growth and progression of one of the genre's most defining acts. Three albums in as many years, and at that point it seemed like there was no limit to where Kyuss would ascend to. The whole record is aces, but if nothing else you owe it to yourself to check out "Demon Cleaner."

Album Information

Release date: July 28th, 1994
Record label: Elektra Records / Chameleon Records

John Garcia — vocals
Josh Homme — guitar
Scott Reeder — bass
Brant Bjork — drums

Track Listing

  1. Gardenia / Asteroid / Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop
  2. 100 Degrees / Space Cadet / Demon Cleaner
  3. Odyssey / Conan Troutman / N.O. / Whitewater
  4. Lick My Doo

—by Derek

Published: July 23rd, 2014.

Edited: February 18th, 2018.