A passed-around quote goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” Not wanting to wait any more time, singer/guitarist Chad Ross adopts the J. ROSS identity for Skull Creator, an album that grows into an expanding forest of sound and ideas. Over the project’s eight songs, the psych-rock stalwart and garage rock legend creates a dreamy landscape that leaves the listener feeling more centered in their place in this grand, endless universe.
Powered by C. ROSS’s acoustic guitar and haunting vocals, Skull Creator is a marvelous genre-defying experience that features moments of folk-rock, psych dreaming, and, in the case of “On Golden Pond,” elements of twang that would make Duane Eddy proud. There are hints of the fuzz-drenched sound of the Palm Springs desert, and the lush production mirrors the life found in a hidden creek just beyond the pines. Skull Creator starts as a camping trip in the backyard but turns into an expedition to the dark side of the moon before bringing you safely back home.
“I’ve heard this record in my mind for years,” J. Ross tells Hollywood Life, “cuz the acoustic guitar has always been my first love, but these songs transformed from hazy ideas to full visions, with the help of Josh Wells (lightning dust, destroyer, black mountain) oath Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless, The Black Crowes).”
Fans first got a taste of Skull Creator when “Wrong Side of the Sky” came booming down like a terrifyingly beautiful revelation. It heralded the arrival of this project from Chad Ross, who has been a staple of the underground music scene up north. Having sung and guitar-slung for psych-rockers Quest For Firenavigated those solo acoustic waters as Nordic Nomadicclimbed the apex as part of Pink Mountaintops’ touring band, and blew the doors off the garage with a rock band The Deadly Snakesthis C.ROSS persona showcases yet another facet in his ever-expanding musical repertoire.
Fittingly, C.ROSS is a poignant crossroads for all the different musical journeys that Chad Ross has taken in this lifetime and is a must-have for any rocker with similar hazy dreams in their heads and unblinking stars in their eyes.
Skull Creator in all streaming services. The LP is available through Bandcamp here.