ALBUM REVIEW/CONCERT PREVIEW: Wish Granter by the Atomic Sherpas

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Wish Granter, the Atomic Sherpas’ third release, is a complex, conceptual assortment of music that captures the Los Angeles band’s fascinating evolution and its mastery of jazz, funk, rock and roll and avant garde. Formed in 2000 by Los Angeles underground music lynchpin and multi-instrumentalist Vince Meghrouni, the Atomic Sherpas have served as a magnet for talent and for mentoring young talent. Reminiscent of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers or John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, which respectively nurtured an astonishing number of jazz and rock superstars, the Atomic Sherpas’ line up and alumni comprise an embarrassment of riches. Current and former members (equally skilled in rock and jazz), represent an array of notable Los Angeles musical acts, including psychedelic/surf subversives Double Naught Spy Car, punk and rollers the BellRays, Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs and B-Movie Rats, and Mexican narco rockers Brujeria.

Wish Granter exudes confidence challenging listeners and granting their wishes. The opening track Become the Wish Granter envelopes the listener in a narcotic fantasy state, both celebratory and inviting, before departing on a mind-blowing musical journey that is psychedelic in concept only. Wish Granter is a significant evolution from the band’s first release Blowin It At Ya, an excellent live collection of funk and jazz originals and standards. The latest release moves with a funky, trombone-backed swagger through inspirations that include Muddy Waters, Frank Zappa, and Captain Beefheart topped by Meghrouni’s delightful baritone voice. Witty dry humor, including the track Ride to Prac and Meghrouni’s tendency to break through the fourth wall on occasion and speak directly to the audience, elevates the work’s attitude. Wish Granter goes further, treating listeners to a big band version of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs and an updated version of Painful Theraputic Process, pulled from Perfectly Square, the debut album by Meghrouni’s legendary 90s jazz power trio Bazooka.

The Atomic Sherpas will celebrate the release of Wish Granter on Saturday January 3 at Cafe Nela, Los Angeles’ premiere destination for underground and eclectic music. The celebration includes performances by friends and collaborators Somos Mysteriosos, The Probe, Sweet and Cruel, Double Naught Spy Car, Mike Watt and the Missingmen, Saccharine Trust and an evening-closing jam session. Suggestive of the skilled Napalese mountain guides, this evening and the Atomic Sherpas will carry guests to a higher (musical) ground.

While the Atomic Sherpas continue negotiations with record distributors and labels, Wish Granter will be available for purchase at Cafe Nela and directly from the band at foomcorp (at) aol.com. Cafe Nela is located at 1906 Cypress, Los Angeles, CA 90065.

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