Album | Crooked Flower – Darkness and Light

For native Californians, hearing that a notably psychedelic outfit calls Berkeley its home might be a lot like saying that Michael Jackson’s Thriller was a hit record, or that the sky is blue. The city is, after all, San Francisco’s chill stoner cousin attached to its hip. This isn’t to underrate the value of a band as truly multifarious as Crooked Flower, though. More-so, it’s just to say that they’re hatching from out of the right area to blossom into something beautiful—all while reminding readers that their humble writer also hails from the SF Bay Area so that he can rack up some cool points (or not).

In some respects, they’re an early blooming band, having picked up both Song of the Year and Concert of the Year accolades from notable Sacramento radio station KUBU 96.5. Forthrightly, there’s not much wondering why. A band like Crooked Flower are natural crowd pleasers capable of twist and turns in their brand of rock that feels like a congregation dedicated to contemporary sounds and the decades that provide modernity its bedrock. In these regards, their new 4-track EP can be called another success.

Inklings of the band’s independent status are still incredibly evident in its production, and that can be a dual-sided blade. On one hand, that they have achieved so much by means of developing whirlwind arrangements and delivering them so well live on stage is an accomplishment not to be reckoned with. On the other, it’s evident that their skills behind the mastering table leave some things to be desired.

The songs themselves are, by and large, strong efforts worth the listen, but the tinniness and fluctuations in EQ can feel abundant at times. This is particularly true of the second tune of four, ‘Tunnel of Light’, where the vocal levels seem to be a bit mishandled as they bounce between tracks and volumes. Those naggles aside though, when you treat the EP for what it otherwise is, it is well worth lending your ear to. It isn’t hard to comprehend why the band are rising stars in their respective music scene, and with a little extra oil in their engine, they’ll be revving up for the big time in no time. Just give closing number ‘Bells of Brixton’ a listen—this is indie psychedelic music very nearly at its finest.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)