So how is the pot rock this time out? Well, it's kind of slow and dreamy with drawling vocals and quirky arrangements. But the songs actually are songs, with recognizable verse/chorus patterns and jarring, funny lyrics that prompt a peek or two at the enclosed lyric sheet. And then there's Gelb's voice, which is kind of like a very stoned Arlo Guthrie or a more pop-oriented Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth or a less self-pitying Ira Kaplan from Yo La Tengo. Gelb often just talks his way through his songs in that medicated drawl of his that suggests the wide-open vistas of Arizona, his home state. Not too dissimilar from those other Southwestern pot rockers, the Meat Puppets, Giant Sand always sounds dreamy and, well, psychedelic, for lack of a better term.
Let's put it this way: If Spacemen 3 had been raised in the American Southwest and smoked wacky weed rather than being from England and injecting narcotics, you might have a pretty good idea of what Giant Sand sounds like. Or if Neil Young had not had a family and just stayed in the desert nursing broken apocalyptic visions, Giant Sand might have been the result. You get the picture; the band sounds sort of spacy and slow. But Gelb has more than just echoplex vocals and tremolo-drenched guitars on his side. He writes gorgeous melodies with choruses and lyrics that stay in your head for days. Pot rock without the sluggish hungover feeling. Quite a feat, Mr. Gelb.