New Madrid “Operation Aquarius” Sokno Records This CD-R is a grab bag of tunes from the sessions that produced a split 7” on the Laboratory Standard Recordings label. Questionable origin aside, “Operation Aquarius” is a cohesive, LP-worthy collection of country-fried slow-burning psychedelic gems from this mysterious Knoxville quintet. It’s been a long time since a band flying the ‘country-rock’ flag (or really, I should say ‘country-psych’) has turned my head, but New Madrid’s combination of quality song writing (even the covers that they do seem to sound original under their direction) and instrumental prowess forces one to take notice.The male/female vocals from Bill Warden and Lou Vesser carry a slightly downtrodden, off-kilter tone – as if they’ve been to several dark places and are singing their way to a sort of redemption. The effect is almost spiritual, even when the lyrics are espousing their penchant for cocaine (to the band’s credit, this only occurs on a cover song). Furthermore, the expressive violin playing of Liz Tapp and Cain Blanchard (one of the owners of Laboratory Standard Recordings, who also plays bass) adds a hint of sorrow to the already world-weary proceedings.There is a lack of information available on the web regarding New Madrid, so I’m assuming that the band’s presence outside of Knoxville is almost negligible. This is a shame, as this crew of half-broken songsmiths deserves to be recognized, and “Operation Aquarius” is the proof. Someone reissue this on vinyl, please!! 9/10 — Bryon Hayes (14 January, 2009)
Buy Operation Aquarius Now from the distro page or our MySpace site.