Head Full of Pills

Founded in 1996 as a side project of Screaming Trees bassist Van Conner, Valis once boasted such membership as Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters and Tad bassist Kurt Danielson. Teaming up with his guitar-slinging brother Patrick, the band released their debut ’98 EP split with Kitty Kitty (Patrick’s full-time gig) on the sorely missed Man’s Ruin label to little fanfare, and their full-length four years later slipped under the radar as well.

Enter Detroit’s Small Stone Records, the last bastion of the subgenre formerly known as stoner rock, and Valis’ new record, Head Full Of Pills – neither groundbreaking nor head-turning, but solid material in the end. The band tends to flit from style to style without spending much time on any of them. If the blazing opener “Welcome To Home School” sounds like Fu Manchu, then the title track apes late-career Black Sabbath. The spacey “Voyager” attunes its inner compass toward Nebula, while the beefy chords of the instrumental “Humanzee” seem borrowed from the Ribeye Brothers. “Motorbike” sounds like go-for-the-throat Monster Magnet, and “We Got A Situation” like the Screaming Trees covering Motorhead. The ’60s vintage instruments and garage-y tones of Wellwater Conspiracy flow freely in “Across The Sky,” before the Magnet-ic attraction returns twofold with “World Decay” (like Powertrip) and the seven-minute-long “Perpetual Motion Machine” (like Dopes To Infinity). Though Head Full Of Pills comes up short in the hooks department, Valis’ days of greatest success are surely yet to be.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
September 21st, 2004


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