The Red Tyger Church

Free Energy (Alive/Total Energy)

Like their Scandinavian cousins, the bands who've emerged from the San Francisco Bay Area in the past few years -- Vue, Richmond Sluts, Big Midnight, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Pattern, the Warlocks -- are hell-bent on creating rock 'n' roll that not only acknowledges its past but outstrips it. The catalyst for this whole retro-as-if-retro-never- happened stance was the sagely Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Red Tyger Church is the latest band from the region and possibly the most dynamic example yet of how the Berkeley scene is exploding with some of the most creative ideas in the name of rock since the original San Fran (or London) heyday of the 1960s. Yet another collective that functions as much as an idea as a band, the group seems to be floating down the same tributary as recent Jonestown. "Welcome," the grand finale, is a saintly send-up of awesome proportions that rivals the best of euphoric late-'60s bliss with its male/female vocals and up-against-the-wall vitality. Like the Jonestown and Warlocks before them, Red Tyger Church seems to have absorbed the dense grandeur of the Stones circa Beggar's Banquet through Exile on Main Street -- maracas abound, and tracks build to explosive crescendos.

"Angie Vampyre," almost a Stones namesake, is the best Stones riff since the Big Midnight album. "Cherry Cola," while still a Stones archetype, throws in a little Mott the Hoople. They seem to be possessed by the same messianic vibe that's gripped Jonestown head Anton Newcombe of late. Red Tyger describes itself as "an occult gospel garage punk commune" and, on tracks like "Unicorn," combines the little-girl quality of Manson Family sing-alongs with the band's basic rock instincts.

 
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