Most people associate Desert Rock with California’s Palm Desert, where bands like Yawning Man, Kyuss, and Queens of the Stone Age cut their teeth. These bands were heavily inspired by the desert heat and isolation, often throwing generator parties in the middle of the night.
But the Palm Desert isn’t the only desert on Mother Earth, and no one knows that better than solo musician Joe Yapp. A native of Southern England, Yapp has lived and traveled through the Mexican scrublands and the Australian Outback.
Yapp pulled inspiration from his adventures and channeled them into El Peyote, his debut EP recorded on a farm in his “Shred Shack,” a caravan he decked out for recording (check out Yapp’s interview on The Third Eye to learn more).
El Peyote is directly influenced by Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions (which you’ll hear in Yapp’s big riffs) and Yawning Man’s Vista Point (which you’ll hear in Yapp’s big solos)—but you’ll also pick out moments of Brant Bjork’s solo work during the EP’s chillest sections and Kyuss during El Peyote’s heaviest moments.
About El Peyote
Currently a solo project for Joe Yapp, El Peyote is (as the name suggests) heavily influenced by traveling and psychedelic drug use—perfect sources of creativity for something so psychedelic.
Many of the tracks on this record were written within the last few months, and all of them were recorded in Yapp’s “Shred Shack” before being mixed and mastered by Domenic Maggi at Caldwell House Studios USA.
El Peyote Review
Release Date: July 29, 2022
Track 1: We Have Liftoff
The EP fires up with enormous drums and a quick countdown—and then the song explodes into a rush of frenzied guitars. Inspired by a bad trip in a Mexican village, “We Have Liftoff” is a combination of 2000s Garage Rock, early Desert Rock, and a small dose of Psychedelic Rock. It’s a big, explosive track with a runtime of about two minutes, so it’s a breathless experience—and a hell of a way of fire up the EP.
Track 2: Foot to the Floor
“Foot to the Floor” rides atop a slick primary riff and a soaring guitar that stretches beyond the stratosphere. A brief and relatively simple song, “Foot to the Floor” is catchy and exhilarating, making it another effective tune on this tidy EP.
Track 3: Hyperdrive
An ecstatic, multi-layer guitar track, “Hyperdrive” is an exciting bull rush of a song. And with so many layers in the mix, you might even pick up hints of Billy Corgan’s early Smashing Pumpkins or Zwan.
Track 4: Spiritual Awakening
“Spiritual Awakening” is vibing music. With a thick, steady bassline and shimmering guitar, “Spiritual Awakening” holds that same steady desert energy as a classic Brant Bjork track. Eventually, though, the song uses a steady build to leap into cosmic Psychedelic territory.
Track 5: Celestial Illusions
Fittingly enough, “Illusions of Ecstasy” begins with sultry chanted female vocals before leading into guitars and bass with massive swagger. A chill track once it begins moving, you may hear bits of Brant Bjork mixed into its vibe (just like in “Spiritual Awakening”).
Track 6: Cabrón
“Cabrón” rides atop a big rush of guitars reminiscent of bands like Queens of the Stone Age or Ultima Radio—before that massive lead guitar rushes in like a bolt of guitar ecstasy. With its intricate lead guitar and carefully layered approach, “Cabrón” is one of the most intoxicating tracks on the entire EP.
Track 7: Floating Through the Endless Void
With a name like “Floating Through the Endless Void,” I expected a heavy cosmic experience similar to ASTRAL CONstruct’s Tales of Cosmic Journeys. And although there’s a hint of moody Psychedelic gloom in this track, there’s still that same joyous Desert Rock undertone propelling the song forward. “Floating Through the Endless Void” is big and ethereal, and it’s a powerful closing track.
Final Thoughts on El Peyote
Final Score: 8.5/10
Standout Tracks: “We Have Liftoff,” “Foot to the Floor,” and “Cabrón”
Pros: It’s tough to successfully pull off Desert Rock without the vocals. Since Desert Rock riffs tend to be pretty simple, you really need some sort of intriguing lead guitar to keep the songs interesting—like Yawning Man.
Yapp takes a clever approach here: In addition to spiking each song with intoxicating and exploratory lead guitars, he also keeps each track relatively short, allowing him to slip from emotion to emotion without ever growing stale or boring.
As a result, each song feels fresh and unique, while still ensuring El Peyote remains one consistent experience.
Overall, El Peyote is a powerful, exhilarating debut packed with Psychedelic Desert Rock goodness.
Cons: I initially listened to an earlier version of this release that lacked some of the slower moments (like in “Spiritual Awakening”). While these tracks are fine for what they are in the final product, the original version of this EP had such incredible momentum that I was surprised to hear slower songs on the official release. Still, El Peyote is a strong debut, and the songwriting is tight. This is one project worth keeping an eye on!