The energy behind Cobra Family Picnic first coalesced in a convertible Fiat Spider on a L.A. roadway in 2013. "We knew that we would do music together since we both showed up wearing the same sunglasses and jackets," says bassist Boyd Peterson of Lesli Wood, keyboardist, who formed the band.
From the countdown sequence of an Apollo spaceflight mission that sets the scene in the opening tune "Draags"—a song inspired by the 1973 sci-fi film Fantastic Planet—to the hypnotic space-rock jam of the closing "Contact," Cobra Family Picnic's latest album Magnetic Anomaly is a journey through a Carlos Castañeda hallucinogen-tinted landscape, the mystical and, we're guessin', the pharmacological frontiers of contemporary psych. In other words, it shimmers and shines pretty damn hard.
The album was recorded "deep in the hot steamy bowels of scenic Tucson" at Waterworks Recording by Jim Waters and produced by the band. Note that the band's sound has evolved from their strictly instrumental 2015 debut Music For Lava Lamps—in part due to the wah-wah-propelled rhythms and untethered leads of guitar man Connor Gallaher, and the addition of the sybaritic, echo-drenched vocals of Randall Dempsey.
Dempsey's stream-of-consciousness lyric are improvised and delivered more as effect. "[The album] differs because it's the first time CFP has recorded with a "frontman" or "vocalist," Dempsey says, who joined the band last year. "When I'm with CFP, I feel I'm just receiving the music and sort of dancing with my vocals. ... I like to get tipsy and let the spirit of the music lead me, channeling Jim Morrison."
Boyd expands, "We improvise and explore the universe through our live performances ... and take you on a journey. It's always been that way and just comes natural to us."
The band members share mutual love of outer space, Stanley Kubrick, Krautrock and vintage instruments. Here Lesli shares her Top 5 Current Obsessions:
1. The Moody Blues—In Search of the Lost Chord (1968): Lyric quote from "The Best Way to Travel." And you can fly, high as a kite if you want to / faster than light if you want to / speeding through the universe / thinking is the best way to travel.
2. Alice Coltrane—Journey in Satchidananda (1971): Somehow this album didn't come into my life until recently. It's my go to for chilling out at home in a caftan.
3. Suuns—Hold/Still (2016): Essential for a road trip! I first heard this album in the car and was tripping out. I then went backwards through all of their albums and arrived hours later in a trance state.
4. Tangerine Dream—Atem (1973): When you just need to light some incense, turn off the devices and time travel.
5. William Onyeabor—Crashes in Love (1977): My mind was blown when I heard the song "Ride on Baby." Woah.
Cobra Family Picnic celebrates the release of Magnetic Anomaly along with The Myrrors and A Giant Dog (garage rock from Austin) with projections by Adan Martinez Kee. Friday, June 16th, 9 p.m., at The Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th Street. $5. 21+.