Photo by Sean Turley
  • Woodsist
  • Photo by Sean Turley
From their name, Portland, ME quartet Herbcraft (singer-guitarist Matt Lajoie, organ player Dawn Aquarius, bassist and flute player Corinna Marshall, and drummer and synth player Nicholas Barker) sounds like the kind of band who likes to smoke a bowl from time to time. To judge by this leisurely, jazz-inflected, psychedelic stunner, which features Doug and Aaron Neveu of Woods and Matt Valentine of MV & EE, Herbcraft sounds like...the kind of band who likes to smoke a bowl on occasion.

I was prepared to make fun of the name before I heard the song, but it kind of fits, although an LSD or psilocybin reference would make even more sense. And for all I know, the word "herb" refers to their diet, their garden, or their culinary skills. Or maybe their Uncle Herb. (My friend Steven has also suggested Cthulu creator H.P. Lovecraft.)

Interestingly, Lajoie has grown weary of music writers who reference drugs, so it's too bad the band name encourages that practice—and I wrote the above before coming across the following passage from his 2012 interview with Foxy Digitalis:

I did get to read some commentary about Herbcraft before Ashram [to the Stars] was finished, and I was definitely put
off by all the stoner/drop-out/bong references in all the
reviews of what I considered a pretty serious album.

In any case, "No Land" heralds the release of his third full-length as Herbcraft, and it's one of the finest songs I've heard so far this year. After spending some time with the group's Bandcamp, I can see why Lajoie would claim sax player Pharoah Sanders as a primary influence. "No Land" also seems likely to appeal to fans of P-Funk, William Steig, and tour mates the Psychic Ills, i.e. flanged-out guitar, tabla-style drumming, free-spirited flute, and low-key lyrical chanting.

Woodsist releases Herbcraft's The Astral Body Electric on Mar 5.