Post-KYUSS, John Garcia's been on a bit of a roll. You have UNIDA, you have SLO BURN, VISTA CHINO and HERMANO. Additionally, John Garcia has been collaborating with THE CRYSTAL METHOD, KARMA TO BURN and DANKO JONES while dropping a solo album in 2014. Garcia even had a brief reunion in 2005 with former KYUSS mate Josh Homme, making a stage appearance at a QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE gig.
That's a lot of material to nick from if you want to strip down and let it hang for an acoustic album, which is what Garcia does on "The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues". Here he retools some of his prior work, including four KYUSS tracks: "Gardenia" and "Space Cadet" from "Welcome to Sky Valley", "Green Machine" from "Blues for the Red Sun" and "El Rodeo" from "...And the Circus Comes to Town". Because Garcia is considered a desert rock aristocrat, there's ingenuity and craft to be exhibited in this endeavor and much of it is a success.
The rapid acoustic strums, whirring bass and whispering synths behind "Kylie" produce a cinematic rumbling effect as John Garcia squeals and shrieks atop their brisk force. The song takes a skid, however, allowing the prickling guitar twangs and trippy keys to send the song to a sedate spot before resuming its gallop. The reworked version of "Green Machine" thereafter retreats to a quietus as Garcia whispers through it and lets the lulling guitars pull him into the laidback groove. The crisp guitar solo chimes ""Green Machine" to close, echoing and then reverberating throughout a naked, funk-fried take of "Give Me 250ML".
"The Hollingworth Session" is one of the standout numbers on this project. The driving guitar lines and somber piano drops are as much a star as John Garcia's occasionally playful wailing. A dichotomy of moods plays hell with the listener, carrying a huge swing on the verses while embracing any chance to stomp through sour puddles on the choruses and the closing solo section.
"Space Cadet" already boasts a gnarly set of riffs to rebuild from, and they're thrust as much as they're strummed and slid. The lively keys toe-tapping behind the shuffle groove thrown before John Garcia's high-pitched drawling and snide cursing lends an extra air of coolness to the track.
"Gardenia" is appropriately pretty within its minimalism—a starkness to the plucking guitar lines opening space for the wood block and triangle drops. John Garcia all but drowses inside the track, which expectedly picks up the tempo and shucks out some blues emissions to close. "El Rodeo" tries to bask in two worlds, the sedate and the bombastic, which throws unexpected chamber strings into an originally thunderous song. Garcia hollers as he normally would into the original cut of the song, which sort of works in this rendition as much as it gets in the way.
Nowadays, artists taking side sojourns walkabouts through western-fluffed acoustic mod is becoming dangerously hip to a fault. Everyone from Zakk Wylde to THE SWORD to Wino and Conny Ochs to Matt Boroff have fruitfully thrown their static into the lost highway of dustbowl America, basking in the acoustic echoes calling back at them like consoling consciences. Only in a few spots does this album feel forced as John Garcia plays an overall smart game of reinvention on "The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues". The instrumentation on "Court Order" is exquisite, lush and detailed, but how much longer this metal-cowpoke slimming down method holds appeal remains to be seen.