Power trio Tia Carrera has been serving giant fistfuls of improvised psychedelic heavy rock for long enough now to become grizzled veterans of the Austin music scene. On Cosmic Priestess, their fifth disk, the wear and tear is starting to show. Unsurprisingly, guitarist Jason Morales wrangles some searing tones out of his axe while drummer Erik Conn and new bassist Jamey Simms keep the rhythmic faith. But while the band’s collective heart is in the right place and its energy never flags, a certain predictability has begun to creep into the riffs and melodies. Maybe it’s because the trio is following up its masterpiece, the perfectly titled The Quintessential, but Cosmic Priestess suffers from a faint sheen of “been there done that.” That’s not to say that any of these tracks aren’t worth your time – the band’s cosmic boogie is in full flight as usual on “Sand, Stone and Pearl,” the groovy “A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing” and the colossal “Saturn Missile Battery.” But the words “as usual” shouldn’t enter into the conversation when you’re talking about cranking up the amps without a plan. Time to shift gears?
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