I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with local Phoenix rock trio Desert Purple for an exclusive listen to their upcoming album: Colours. The incredibly talented trio consists of Taylor Shapiro, Adam Green, and Nick Armendariz who together wrote, played, sang, mixed, mastered, and produced the entire album in their home studio. In the paragraphs below, you’ll find my personal critique of Colours. This is where I want to preface that I know nothing about music nor do I claim to, I can’t carry a tune to save my life and at best, I’m nothing more than a connoisseur of delightful sounds. Thus the opinions expressed below are just that: opinion, and you should all give the album a listen and then feel free to tell me how right or wrong I am in my analysis of this 11-track journey through space, time, and sound.
Desert Purple started laying down tracks back in 2015 when members Nick and Taylor cut their first EP foreplay. This is a group with a rich 10-year history of playing together and that history got even deeper in 2017 when Adam joined the band who had been playing with Nick roughly 15 years since their high school drumline days together. The chemistry and connection of these three is immediately apparent in their music and it was a pleasure to hear what they’ve worked on the last three years to create together. With the trio citing influences like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, Santana, and Led Zeppelin for their inspiration on this album, you can almost start to hear the unique sounds contained in these tracks. In chatting with the band, Taylor informed me that their approach was to bring a modern take to these old school rock vibes, which we see come to life as they layer in elements from blues, jazz, R&B, classic rock, reggae, and more. There were moments in listening to this album that I found myself absolutely lost in the music and quite frankly, I didn’t care if I ever came back. Guitarist Taylor Shapiro really encapsulated that feeling for me during our conversation when he said, “the beauty of using analog instruments is…well it’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s something you just feel.” Let me be the first to tell you, I certainly felt it listening to this album.
Now, I’m a firm believer that anyone who gives only positives in a review is trying to sell you something, and furthermore, I think constructive criticism is always healthy. My only real protest on the album is at times it feels confusing lyrically. All three band members wrote and sang on the album, in fact, you can hear all the guys on nearly every track and therein, I think, lies the issue for me. It feels a little crowded vocally at certain times, which leaves some of the tracks feeling a little scattered. On the other side of that coin, there are some moments throughout the album where all three vocals truly meld together and compliment each other highly. But when it comes to this album the most undeniable truth is that it rocks, hard. I think Adam really captured the heart of Desert Purple’s music when he said, “we want to make something that will get people moving one way or another.” I found that to be true in my experience. The music is complex, it takes the listener places, and I believe there are sounds to suit all musical tastes found throughout the album. What these gentlemen have been able to achieve using good old classic rock instrumentation is beautifully layered and extremely pleasing to one’s auditory senses. I recall one particular guitar solo on a track that swept me away into another world as I sat and listened, as the track ended and I came out of my sort of trance and all my appreciation for the experience was aptly summed up by the big smile across my face and the, “Hell yeah!” I let out which seemed to be the only words I could find to do the track justice.
All in all, this album is great for so many reasons. The first being that this is the hard work of a group of incredible local musicians who aren’t just practicing their craft but are also producing it for us all to enjoy. This is music by cannabis lovers, for cannabis lovers. If their musical influences and the fact their genre is psychedelic blues-rock didn’t give it away already, cannabis is a huge catalyst for the trio. Like the many greats before them used cannabis, so does Desert Purple, for focus, for inspiration and creativity, and sometimes just to sit around and work on a song while they smoke a joint. These guys are making music for the cannabis lovers out there who like to fire up a joint and turn up some Pink Floyd or Jimi Hendrix to 10 and just get lost in the sounds of these craftsmen and their instruments. I asked the guys how their album is best listened to and they were quick to inform me that it’s best taken in via headphones or up loud in the car while you’re cruising around the Valley. The real joy has to be in watching these guys play though. I was lucky enough to sit in on a jam session in their studio and it was pure delight. There was truly an electric vibration that washed over me in waves as I sat and watched these three create something so intense yet so beautifully delicate together. Few things in life are more enjoyable than watching the ebb and flow of highly talented musicians as they go wherever the music takes them together in a jam sesh. I would implore you to get out and see Desert Purple live so you can really experience their love and skill come through in the room with them in a way you won’t get listening at home.
I’m super stoked to continue listening to this album once it drops and I hope you’ll all give these guys a listen and show them some support. These guys are unique, passionate, dedicated, and producing some of the most interesting sounds I’ve heard from a local artist (again, not an expert, please send me all your fave local artists I don’t know about). Above all else I can tell you one thing for certain, I intend to continue following the journey of Desert Purple as they grow in their craft, as a trio, and continue to put out music I’ll have my headphones on just waiting for that track that makes me smile ear to ear and say, “Hell yeah!”