Released: 2006, Small Stone Records
Back in 2003, Dixie Witch unleashed what was unarguably one of the best stoner rock albums that year. ONE BIRD, TWO STONES was a rockin’ affair that turned up the fuzz and the dickin’ around that goes with it – the album’s only flaw. Innumerable tours have come and gone in ’04 and ’05, and now the band is back (same lineup intact) with their third platter of Southern-fried goodness.
The album kicks off with the appropriately-titled “Set the Speed”; a comfortable, catchy rocker that indeed does set the speed for the rest of the disc. See, SMOKE & MIRRORS is a largely mid-paced album. But don’t be put off speed freaks – there are some mightily energetic songs here (see “Shoot the Moon”). The point is that the band have clearly grown as songwriters since 2003, and have crafted a disc full of songs that move and breathe, in no particular rush to cave heads or be particularly heavy. This is a back porch drinkin’ album with stories to tell. Notably, the band have toned down the jammy, go nowhere riffs of albums past, getting out all of their jam-jones’ in instrumental album finisher “Last Call” and keeping the rest of the songs tight and focused.
The album is also a guitar fan’s dream. Clayton Mills’ licks are right up front in the mix, giving him plenty of room to show his skills, as both a Southern rock riffmaster, and tasteful soloist.
It’s obvious that Dixie Witch have improved quite a bit since their last disc. They’ve enhanced almost every area over their past work, easily making SMOKE & MIRRORS a must-have album this year.