Photo by Ben Sklar
In the early ’70s, the Dallas group the Relatives conjured up a blend of psychedelia and gospel, finding salvation in Reverend Gean West’s raw-voiced sermons and fuzz guitars. The band’s handful of songs stayed collectors’ items until a reissue and a reunion in 2009 led to tours and new music. 2013’s The Electric Light showed off their sound’s lasting power: whether it’s psychedelic or gospel, it’s all in service to the soul.
The Relatives were ahead of their time, but time is catching up. Gean West passed away after the band recorded the bulk of their new album, Goodbye World. Death has loomed over a lot of the Relatives’ work; salvation, after all, is serious business. But in death, the group finds truth. “This World Is Moving Too Fast” says it all in the title, testifying to our self-destructive human nature. The song reaches heavenward by grasping this gritty reality, and in the other hand is a simple prayer.
Goodbye World is out now via Ubiquity Records.