March 14, 2024

Oakfarm is like an old hidden vinyl from the 70’s you’ve never heard of, lying untouched in an abandoned log cabin. When you put it on, sparks of live energy fly and the deep resonance of heavy rock raises the roof. Fans of Rival Sons, The Answer, Graveyard and Kadaver will be particularly intrigued; and lots of others as well. I love it!

 But who exactly is Oakfarm? It’s a German heavy psych-rock trio comprised of Tobias Lemberger from Sons and Preachers on guitar and vocals, Dennis Oelze on drums and Arne Döpper from Bone Man on bass. They got together in late 2020 with the purpose of playing vintage heavy-rock infused with some bluesy and psychedelic textures. The band’s self-titled debut album will be released on vinyl on April 11th on Pink Tank Records and features eight tracks full of bluesy heavy riffs and catchy, sing along melodies. 

It opens with What If, with quite a delicate acoustic start plus a touch of almost Hawkwind-like electronics. The mix and general production definitely conjures up a relaxed 70’s vibe, one of several new releases currently around that could well have sprung from my beloved United Artists triple album sampler All Good Clean Fun dating from that time. The vocals have that ever-so-slightly distant feel to them that I get from my old albums like Help Yourself, Man etc, the percussion too sometimes sounds mixed as though this is a slightly worn piece of vinyl, but it works – and there’s a nice burst of ‘period-feel’ guitar solo to top it all off – a very impressive introduction to the band.

The Reason is next, altogether heavier with a suitably meaty riff, lots of cymbals, hugely chugging bass, very tuneful heavy blues. The Way follows, another sumptuous bassline and sharp, crisp drumming. Nicely laid-back guitar lines and overall a good tune, a nice touch of psychedelia in the middle with warbly notes and possibly what I recall used to be called a ‘jew’s harp’? Cranks up nicely towards the the end. Sombre Vita is another of those timeless bluesy ballads, Tobias’ voice just sounds so right for this “period-feel” music! Minor chords feature heavily in the lovely guitar work here, it’s almost a touch of Americana, reminding me of The Jayhawks at their best but with a more solid, heavy feel, drenched in a psych-blues atmosphere again.

Carry On continues in the same vein, I love the slightly sparse arrangement of minor chords, swooping vocals, always the solid drumming and throaty bassline. Friends is from the same stable but altogether more pacey, it rattles along at a tremendous lick. These three seem to create melodies in their sleep, it comes so naturally to them. There’s a particularly “neat” (seventies word!) solo in the middle section, Tobias really letting rip. Thoroughly entertaining.

Let It Breathe is a hard-hitting piece of blues-thrash, shades of The Gaslight Anthem, that manages to be simultaneously timeless and so fresh – it’s got a really live feel to it, an urgency, a huge chorus, a soaring solo, a burst of wah-wah pedal, what’s not to like!

Most of the tracks are in the region of four minutes, the album’s closer is a traditionally longer epic called The Melody. Starts as it means to go on, big simple riff punctuated by taut bass and percussion, then the bluesy solos crash in as well. I can imagine Rory Gallagher lashing this out, it’s got that “blues-rock-trio-workout” written all over it.. A brief pause five minutes in allows the tempo to get cranked up further, setting the scene for a VERY tasty solo. It builds wonderfully, and I’m sure I recognised a few riffs from Hendrix and/or Ritchie Blackmore in there as well. It’s just a really classy extended blues composition – Well Done! – and listeners can get to sample the full glory in the video below.

The whole is just a touch over 38 minutes in length, but honestly I enjoyed it so much it was over in a flash and I had to start again…and again – what a great, hugely talented young trio! Musically, it absolutely hits the spot for me, my formative years being the late 60’s and all of the 70’s – but I see no reason why slightly younger listeners shouldn’t be equally wowed – go for it!