REVIEW: Home Grown Head Band bring swamp rock fusion to debut album

By Matt Wickstrom

Home Grown Head Band

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Home Grown Head Band lays out a fierce mix of swampy southern rock doused in jazz fusion-fueled horn arrangements on their debut, self-titled album, which lands leans on jammy soundscapes at the intersection of rock, funk, blues and R&B. 

The all-encompassing groove of the band – comprised of guitarist and vocalist Drew Cercone, trumpeter Will Philips, drummer Evan Strippelhoff and bassist Tyler Stamper – also flows into their creation process with the album, which was done completely in-house at Home Grown HQ, the band’s practice space inside Cercone’s home. Founded in 2015, HGH has had ample time to craft a signature sound and tight groove that shows itself on the album, which serves as a masterclass in musicianship and indie artist production.

The album begins with the smooth, delta blues stylings of “Time,” which eases the listener in with a thick-toned guitar and solemn lyrics before fading in horn arrangements choreographed by Philips – who did so on the entire project – and also including trombonist Joey Blackwell, which quickly move from subtle to commanding, helping to guide the ship that is HGH’s eclectic and oftentimes otherworldly sound.

The low-key, heavy licks of “Time” are quickly amped up on the next track, “Time Repeated,” to a feverish pace featuring an epic back and forth between Cercone’s guitar and a steaming horn section along with a rhythm section acting as the foundation holding it all together.

The ferocious intensity is again traded out for laid back blues tones on “Slow it Down” that again shows off the band’s strong interplay between all facets – rhythm, percussion and horns – and how they can work together in unison while also excelling in their own spotlighted, improvised moments. 

The project’s first major transition unfolds on “Stinger,” a cosmic instrumental journey of jazz fusion in the veins of standouts in the field like Lettuce and Mungion before delving into 70s era muddied down rock sounds of “You Better Learn.”

The elaborate, instrumental-heavy jams return for “System,” which serves up a piping hot dish of fusion with a heavy dose of rock soaked funk arrangements back in the Lettuce sound realm before dipping into “The Time,” an introspective cut leaning heavy on R&B featuring a blistering guitar solo from sit-in Jeff Adams.

Contemplation quickly turns to assertion on the following track “Give Us the Gig,” an up-tempo track with infectious, low down grooves similar to Soulive that has emotion oozing from every note as Cercone exclaims “Give us the gig / ‘Cause we’ve got to live” before taking an abrupt turn into an extended instrumental breakdown.

The jams again subside for eery, muddied down blues on “When We’re Old,” a song dripping with raw emotion that slowly picks up steam before moving into edgy, thick-layered guitar with a tripped out bass and rising and falling flurry of horns.

The compilation comes to a close with the upbeat, happy-go-lucky “Mental Transmission,” a track pulling together the band’s diverse sound palette into one with timely horn outbursts paired with a meaty guitar and tight rhythm section all working in harmony to deliver a musical gumbo of sorts, offering something up for music fans from all spectrums to relate to and enjoy.

For more on Home Grown Head Band visit HomeGrownHead.com.

Home Grown Head EP

  1. Time
  2. Time Repeated
  3. Slow it Down
  4. Stinger
  5. You Better Learn
  6. System
  7. The Times
  8. Give Us the Gig
  9. When We’re Old
  10. Mental Transmission

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