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Listen to Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s New Song, ‘Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks': Exclusive Premiere

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Matt Mendenhall

Chris Robinson Brotherhood will celebrate the release of their third studio effort in just two years, Barefoot in the Head, on July 21. The new LP follows the release of 2016’s Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel, and that album’s companion EP, If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home by Now. The thread that connects the three records is the continued growth found within the Brotherhood’s shifting journey of psychedelic sounds and never-before-traveled frontiers.

On Barefoot in the Head, the CRB find themselves back in the studio that produced Any Way You Love and If You Lived Here, affectionately called the Brotherhood Arts Laboratory. The band’s studio is located on the side of a mountain in northern California that overlooks the Pacific Ocean — the perfect place to push the boundaries of what Chris Robinson and company are capable of.

“We made this record in only two weeks,” guitarist Neal Casal tells Ultimate Classic Rock, “and the critical nature of our times definitely played a part in that. Our ethos is to bring the most art and inspiration into our world in order to save it from these mendacious, power-mad maniacs who are currently running it.”

For fans who want an early snapshot of that ethos that defines the sound of Barefoot in the Head, listen to the exclusive premiere of the record’s third track, “Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks,” below.

“Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks” is one of Casal’s favorite tracks on the new LP. “It’s a great set of lyrics with a strong melody,” he says. “Chris sings it with the conviction and confidence that only the best singers can deliver. The ensemble playing is arguably the strongest we’ve recorded with in our six-year history.”

Before recording Barefoot in the Head, Casal says the band toured heavily, and believes that the confidence and energy of its live show is perfectly represented in “Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks.” “With this track, everything we’ve been working toward as a band all comes together in a four-minute song,” he admits. “Psych, rock, blues, folk, rhythm and blues … it’s all laced into the fabric of the tune in a nice, unforced manner.”

The song’s fabric is woven together by Casal’s guitar, the foundation of which was initially cut with his Gretsch White Falcon. “Later, I overdubbed a 1952 Gibson SJ acoustic, a Gretsch electric 12-string, and a Fender Telecaster with a B-Bender for the fuzz solos,” he explains.

Casal’s B-Bender — a part that allows him to bend the B-string of his guitar up two frets to C-sharp — clearly stands out on “Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks,” and adds to the folkier feel of the tune.

“I started playing B-Bender a couple years ago because of my longtime admiration for Clarence White and the West Coast tradition of country-psych music,” Casal recalls. “It took me about a year to gain confidence and a voice on it, but sometime last year it started coming together and I began playing it a lot more. By the time we started recording Barefoot, I was feeling really good with it and the band encouraged me to use it as much as possible.”

If you’re looking to hear more of Casal’s B-Bender work and the rest of the Brotherhood’s mystical compositions, pick up a copy of Barefoot in the Head this week, available on CD, digital and vinyl formats. Chris Robinson Brotherhood will be on the road for the rest of the year, covering nearly every inch of the states — you can check out their full tour itinerary at their official website.

In the meantime, if “Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks” isn’t enough to hold you over, you can check out the band’s new video for Barefoot in the Head‘s opening track, “Behold the Seer,” below.

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