Three men standing in the desert as the sun sets
Credit: Eric Simpson

California power trio Stöner are a new band of road-tested musicians. The collective resumé of guitarist and vocalist Brant Bjork, bassist and vocalist Nick Oliveri, and drummer Ryan Gut sprawls across the ranks of stoner-rock royalty: they’ve played in the likes of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu, and the underrated Hammerface. So if you’re into that sort of music, you know you’re in good hands, and you have a pretty good idea what to expect: heavy, trippy, sun-kissed blues rock made by scruffy-looking desert dwellers. This spring Stöner made their debut via livestream as part of the Live in the Mojave Desert concert series, and on the resulting recording, Live in the Mojave Desert Volume 4, they sound assured and absolutely ready for the big time—even though they’d never played those songs for an audience before. That audacious start earned Stöner a lot of attention, and whetted fans’ appetites for the band’s first studio album, June’s Stoners Rule (released digitally on Heavy Psych Sounds). The record feels lived-in and comfortable at first listen—it’s easy to imagine that if it were issued on vinyl, decades-old marijuana seeds would fall out of its gatefold sleeve. Opening track “Rad Stays Rad” features sick soloing from Oliveri and a nice slow bluesy groove from the rhythm section, which lets you settle in and get comfortable before the guitar blasts into outer space. As the chorus puts it, “Shit don’t change / Rad stays rad,” and throughout the album Stöner’s commitment to their aesthetic never wavers for a moment; “Own Yer Blues” is lovely stoner rock, and “Evel Never Dies” proves (rather surprisingly) that it’s downright charming to hear a band writing songs about Evel Knievel in 2021. The meandering closing jam, “Tribe/Fly Girl,” is a throbbing slow burn with poetic lyrics and a climactic cry to heaven that evokes some of Jimi Hendrix’s astral projections. Heavy as it is, Stoners Rule shows that Stöner are also capable of lightness that allows plenty of space for surprises.

Stoner, Dead Feathers, Cloud Cruiser, Sat 1/1, 9 PM, Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State, $20, 17+