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Naam (2009)

If nothing else, Naam's self-titled debut will finally convince you to upgrade your broke-dick stereo. My first pass through the album was via the never-good computer speakers hooked up to the battered discman down in the basement, and while Naam's head trip rhythms made for good background music while sweating away on the elliptical, its shaggy haired, low-fi production translated to a thudding, thumping mush.

But on the fancy-pants headphones? That's a different story altogether. Naam may lack gloss (and thankfully so), but it's hardly short on nuance. Those who got on board the Naam train with their Kingdom EP will know what to expect (and those who didn't, don't worry about it, as that release's three tracks are all present here, albeit in re-recorded form) - a carefully blended mix of stoner, drone, doom, and psych that falls somewhere between Mammatus' interstellar AD&D boogie and Om's spiritual head nodding. Or, given the band's label, right next to the likes of Black Math Horseman, The Warlocks, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Weird Owl, and Ancestors.

Like most bands that beg the "psych rock" and "drone" tags (and, to a lesser extent, stoner and doom), on each song Naam locks onto a theme and runs with it, adding flourishes to keep the listener engaged. To their credit, they also manage to weave the individual tracks together as well. They make a sonic narrative that takes you through the epic sprawl of opener "Kingdom" to the drug haze of "Fever If Fire" to the quiet lull of "Westered Wash" to the bombastic finish that is "Black Ice". The songs stand on their own, they work together in a larger context, and not once does the band get lost trying to find the universe in its collective naval or annoy you explaining that, like, there are unseen forces out there, man.

Contrasting the intricacies of the instrumentation are the vocals, which are drenched in so much reverb you'd think they were singing from the bottom of a deep well dug dead center in an empty hangar. That was what derailed the album the first time around and proved to be a minor distraction henceforth, but never so much as to make Naam unlistenable. Just remember to use proper stereo equipment and give the band your full attention. (John Pegoraro, StonerRock.com)

There are very few bands in the known universe that you can say draw upon such varied influences as the Stooges, Hawkwind, and Can. But the Brooklyn, NY trio, Naam, certainly fits the aforementioned bill. On their self-titled 2009 debut, the group issues a vintage-sounding offering that manages to include elements of stoner rock, garage rock, and psychedelic star-gazing. Think of Monster Magnet's early work, and you're not far off from what these lads sounds like. Like all good stoners, you get an obligatory never-ending, mammoth track -- "Kingdom" -- which in this case kicks off the album (and starts with nearly five minutes of swirling wind sound effects). Elsewhere, you'll find a track that sounds like Mudhoney's Mark Arm fronting the aforementioned Monster Magnet ("Skyling Slip"), while quite a few unmistakably Sabbath-y grooves appear throughout (especially in the middle of "Icy Row"). Unlike other stoner metal acts that appear content to play the same riff for minutes on end through a bong-smoke haze, Naam offers enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. ~Greg Prato, All Music Guide

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