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Album Review

"Strange and wonderful is the best way to describe the much-overlooked Southern California sort-of-stoner trio Fatso Jetson. Its third full-length record, Toasted — originally recorded and released in 1998, and reissued in 2001 — is an unusual amalgam of Melvins/Mudhoney grunge, slabby desert rock riffs (à la its dearly departed buddies Kyuss), Monster Magnet space rock, Clutch grooves, and Black Sabbath dirges, but with enough quirk and flair to keep the proceedings under a subtly humorous thumb without delving into joke-band territory. This album shimmers in and out of focus, a product of desert-heat delirium combined with working-class grit. A blissed-out oasis of beer, hash, and meatball subs amidst all the sand, Toasted sports a weighty, earth-bound mix thanks to highly credible producer Chris Goss (of Masters of Reality). Obtuse album-opener "New Age Android" sets the tone with space-bass grooves trading off with rusty-robot keyboard squiggles and meaty power chords before the riff rock blasts off with "Magma," whose lengthy intro drives a divergent arrangement built upon a lurching rhythm and a laid-back, bluesy vocal reminiscent of Mark Lanegan, albeit minus the Marlboro rasp. Elsewhere, "I've Got the Shame" is a punky punch-up, "Rail Job" chatters along on caffeinated rockabilly twang, and instrumentals "She's So Borg," "Tutta Dorma," and "Too Many Skulls" find drums chortling propulsively underneath meandering and melodic guitar noodles. With Toasted, Fatso Jetson put forth the kind of heavy metal grunge that never quite made it out of the garage, yet somehow set the hazy sky as the limit, rummaging through a junk toy-box of sounds and influences while still managing to sound cohesive. Sure, this album is a challenge; and while it will appeal to more adventurous fans of the late-'90s/early-2000s stoner-rock movement, it still manages to transcend such a limiting tag. This is a terrific, under-the-radar release.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Fatso Jetson was formed in Palm Desert, CA, in 1994 and are often credited as the fathers of the desert strain of stoner rock made most famous by their slightly younger neighbors Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. This might be strange considering that the genre was in full swing at the time of Fatso Jetson's inception. The reason for the group's immense stoner credibility is that key members of the group played in seminal local "desert" bands Across the River, Englenook, Yawning Man, and the Sort...
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Toasted, Fatso Jetson
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