Label: Mascot/Cool Green
Release date: October 9, 2012
Australian classic stoner rock trio Tracer has made it to the masses with its Mascot Records debut, Spaces in Between. Describing Tracer’s sound can be summed up as Glenn Hughes and Chris Cornell dropping down the rabbit hole with Corrosion of Conformity and Kyuss to go Running with the Pack for a helping of Goats Head Soup at the Houses of the Holy. Is that simple enough? The trio melds muddy guitars with bluesy mid-tempo riffage, impassioned and angsty vocals over a thick bottom end.
The band was formed in 2004 when former blues collective, The Brown Brothers, Michael Brown (vocals, guitar) and Leigh Brown (vocals, bass) connected with drummer Andre Wise. Over the course of the late aughts, the trio had a couple of independent releases before Mascot’s sub-label Cool Green Recordings snapped them up.
When I first threw this disc into my car and gave it a listen, I was impressed. Good stuff. Then a week later I realized the CD was still entrenched in my Jeep’s player. Seldom does a disc get more than a day or two. That should tell you something. They don’t blow you out of your shoes at first play, but after repeated listens they become an auditory tattoo.
While every track on Spaces In Between has a sonic continuity, the album itself takes the listener on a journey through the past: a bridge that crosses from the 90s into the 70s while keeping us in the present. It’s a nifty vibe few bands are capable of pulling off but Tracer do it with seeming ease. More important, they do it without coming across like a band trying to emulate a style, they simply capture it in their own way.
The first single is the opening track, “Too Much”, which has an energetic riff and hooky feel to pull you in. Perhaps the most uptempo track on the album, it’s a nice way to get the engines running.
“Push” has a hippy groove that recalls Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age, while “Walk Alone” opens with a moody intro then segues into a fuzzy guitar that hints at Audioslave.
After a Floydish intro, “Louder Than This” finds Michael doing his best Leslie West impersonation, and it is more than fitting on this bluesy Mountain-ous track.
The album’s second single should be “Devil Ride”: A clever and catchy uptempo drive that has a hint of Rolling Stones in the chorus mix. Great rhythms and a rolling melody.
I’ve heard a lot of people rave about “The Bitch” and it’s definitely a rocking track, but as soon as the main riff kicks in, all I hear is Queens of the Stone Age‘s “No One Knows” meets Chris Cornell.
The afore-alluded to Bad Company feel takes over on “Voice in the Rain” and Michael channels Paul Rodgers brilliantly. Leigh Brown’s bass owns the album’s title cut, which rocks with another memorable chorus and infectious riff.
Track by track Spaces In Between is packed with solid, well-crafted tunes that show immense promise for this young, bluesy, Adelaide band. I’ve heard Tracer referred to as a grunge band, but that’s a poor label. These guys really know how to express and expand on all their influences. One listen to the final track, “Won’t Let It Die (Run Mary)”, and it is easy to hear that these guys are something special and on the cusp of a global breakout. Spaces in Between is a stunning debut effort, and it is the spaces in between what you ears first hear and what you find as you listen more closely that really makes this a defiant slab of sonic revelry.