20 February 2017

HARVEY MANDEL - Snake Pit (2016)


The new Harvey Mandel album - Snake Pit, on Tompkins Square Records is dynamite. Featuring six new songs (and a couple of old ones) Snake Pit is Harvey Mandel's fifteenth album and his first to be widely distributed in twenty years.

If you've heard Mr. Mandel's guitar work with Canned Heat you'll have an idea of his sound. Blues-infected and dirty...physical...muscular... with a strong bottom end, but it's also often ornate, elegant, and heady. 

He's a thoughtful player, who can play a barrage of notes if needed but might just choose to kill you with a single-note solo instead. He's no show-off, rather, like all greats, he does his thing and hopes that you catch up to it.

Mandel can be slyly futuristic, and at the same time primitive. At times recalling the work of Trower, Hendrix, Page, Nelson, Carlos, etc...the usual gang...yet he remains wholly himself, and like Willy and the other gentlemen Mandel isn't afraid to take chances with jazz, funk, blues phrasings, and like Santana (or McLaughlin) he soars as he solos straight through your soul. Sustain set to Eternity, baby. 

Deeply southern funky, 
hard diving west coast blues, 
upholstered in Detroit, 
Mandel's guitar like a Cadillac, 

Raised in Chicago, Mandel made a name for himself in San Francisco in the late sixties, jamming with the likes of the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, later he went on to join John Mayall's band, and later found The Pure Food and Drug Act.

Harvey "The Snake" Mandel's third gig with Canned Heat was at Woodstock. His first was at Fillmore West when Canned Heat's guitarist quit. Mike Bloomfield played one set, Mandel the other.

You might have heard him on two songs on the Rolling Stones 1975 album, Black and Blue. He auditioned to be replacement for Mick Taylor, but that gig went to Ronnie Wood, which only makes sense. Snake Pit is the culmination of all that. It's an impressive career, that was nearly severely shortened by cancer. But #FuckCancer. Harvey Mandel's back with Snake Pit.

In reading about Mandel, the most common descriptor I came across was searing. That's perfectly accurate, but it's also very personal music, heavy, flying, dancing, crawling, feeling, leading, caressing, hammering music... metaljazzbluesrockfunksoulsomethingorothermusic. Whatever it is, it's alive, and it is powerful.

I don't know what his current health status is. I believe he's on the mend, but I do know he's had some serious ugliness, health wise, and I read had to pawn his guitars and sell his publishing to pay for healthcare.

We both know you haven't heard a good, serious, electric, virtuosically dirty guitar album in ages.
Fix that.

Snake Pit is Harvey Mandel's blues. His music should be heard by you. He's not like everyone else. Check him out, then give him your money. Thank-You!

03 February 2017

ROBERT FiNLEY - Age Don't Mean A Thing

Facebook // Big  Legal Mess Records

And it don't. Age. Mean a thing. But then again, you get to a certain vintage, a grown-up age, and you think, on the inside, that you're twenty-seven, or thirty-three, or forty...but really...you're not. You're not even close. And it used to be that you could get away with it...but then your looks start to betray you, and your body forsakes you, and there you stand. Jilted. Old.

As Junior Kimbrough sang you, "Done Got Old." Grown up things matter now. When you listen to music you want to hear about grown people's problems. The grown-ass blues. Sung with a grown-folks soul, by someone who has been there and can maybe tell you what it's all about.

Experience. That's what 62-year-old Robert Finley brings to the game. He's qualified. He's bonafide. He'll satisfy. He's got grownassity. He goes to work. He gets the job done. He plays music for grown folks.

The title of the album is Age Don't Mean A Thing.

Robert Finley is a retired carpenter, army/music vet from Bernice, Louisiana, a tiny saw-mill town (pop. 1800) carved into the woods at the confluence of a number of state highways in the middle of northern Louisiana. After joining the Army at 17, he led an Army band, and as a young man it was not uncommon for him to play 6-8 hour gigs, but once out of the service, it was tough getting gigs, so he took up his father's carpentry trade. Unfortunately, after years of work as a craftsman, he began to lose his eyesight, so he turned to music. Now, at 63, Finley has released his first album, and it's a testament which proves that age really ain't nuthin' but a number, especially when it comes to music.

Listen, Robert "SlimFinley is no spring chicken (not that that matters, right?) and if he never did another album, Age Don't Mean A Thing would live on as a classic soul blues album. The kind of album they used to make in Memphis at Stax Records, or Hi Records, or further down south at Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco Records, by artists like O.V. Wright, ZZ Hill, Johnny Taylor, Bobby Bland, Howard Tate.

That's not to say Age Don't Mean A Thing is retro. It just is what it is. It's genuine. And it's a style of soul blues that I've been listening for- it's something a little rougher, a little tougher, a little brassier. It's dynamic, unslick and smooth, and Finley, with his crackin' band, plays like the vet he is.

The production is on point, thanks to BLM's Bruce Watson and Jimbo Mathus of his own bad self, the performances are committed and hot. It's really a tight, funky album, top to bottom. Some heartbreakers, some dance songs, some grooves...it's straight classic juke joint soul blues, and you know you need some of that. Look, you got your Sharon Jones' (RiP, bless her heart) your St. Paul's, your Nathaniel Rateliff's, Your Nigel Hall's, and many other's keeping the faith, keeping that soul ember alive....but Robert Finley comes from the wood that that ember was lit from, and he is keeping it lit.

Please y'all. Go buy Robert Finley's new album Age Don't Mean A Thing. Give him your money. It's a square deal all the way around. Cheers to all the goood people involved in making this album happen.

Really. Go buy it. Right here---> Big Legal Mess Records.

|||| Here's my spiel :: --->

1. I Just Want To Tell You rocks like an early Parliaments jam, because that's what it is. Kinda. The chorus, anyway. Robert Finley's original reworking of George Clinton's I Wanna Testify is just aching to be covered by a marching band. The horns are hot and swinging, the backup singers are rockin' like a squad, the organ's roiling, and the drums and bass are stomping it down. It's a backyard party and all y'all are invited!

2.  Age Don't Mean A Thing is a classic blues number, and while it's bottom is in Chicago, its head is in Memphis. Finley's band really shows on this one, helmed by the infamously renowned Jimbo Mathus, it features members of Memphis mainstays, or lynch-pins if you will- The Bo-Keys, plus a high profile set of Memphis vets like drummer Howard Grimes (who played with everybody from Al Green to O.V. Wright) to genre neighbors like Al Gamble of St. Paul And The Broken Bones on the keys, making for a hot, broad group of passionate believers. Somewhere, Bobby Blue Bland is dancing.

3. Let Me Be Your Everything is where Finley brings some the flavor of his native state of Louisiana. This one chugs and choogles, spicy with horns, and Jerry Lee-esque piano dressing. This one's for dancing, and workin' it out.

4. It's Too Late - A heartbreaking blues lamentation on ill-timed love.

5. Snake In The Grass is such a pretty soul blues, considering the subject matter.  A slow swinger with tasteful horn accents slipping into the yard, an organ on the porch, and a drummer in the bedroom. Funky, stankyass snakes.

6. Come On - Oh, yes! Indeed. Here's that funky FunKy shit. This is a summer bbq party jam!  Jimbo's band is hot, sexy, and slanky, and Finley directs and rides their dirty southern soul party grooves like the pro he is, the entertainer that he is. #thewayIlikeitisthewayitis #yougotsomethingthatIneed #comeon

7. Make It With You - Yes, it's that song by Bread, and Finley and his band do it such soulful justice. They bring out something in that song that I bet even David Gates didn't know was there. I love seeing a song so familiar turned towards the sun a little, and Finley's version has got that and some ardent Mississippi/Louisiana moonlight, too. A simply gorgeous version.

8. You Make Me Want To Dance is a rockin' shuffle that Southside Johnny should cover.

9. Is It Possible To Love 2 People - Wow. What a way to close an album. Finley asks the age-old question: Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Or are you losing your mind? You meet someone, and someone can't keep it all friendly and above board. You do know the difference between right and wrong, but next thing you know, they broke you down, and you're in trouble. The answer is yes, of course, it's possible, but someone ain't gonna like it. Life gets awkward, gets tricky, gets deep, and gets messy. Joyful, intimate, funky, and alright!
No matter how old you are.

31 December 2016

CHEESE FiNGER BROWN - Low Down People (2016 - HUMU Records)

// HUMU RECORDS // Fb // iTunes //Spotify // Soundcloud //

The music on Low Down People, stands, stylistically, with one hoof in the bad old days, one foot in blues music's pre-Chicago golden era, and leaning hard (in wool socks and muddy pimp shoes) (but never tipping over) into The Future (whenever that is.)

Consummated of semi-equal parts R.L. Burnside's shadow, and the dark funk around the cuban heels of 
Cap'n Beefheart (I'm talking the dank stuff, not Trout Mask) the Wolves (Howlin' and especially the Little Howlin') oh, and a legion of old-timey musics, your country music, your country blues... pickin'...boogie-type-thing...an underground gospel station, some trucker radio convo static picked up and broadcast by your guitar amplifier, a skosh of Jim White's literary audio wanderlust, or maybe some Waitsian country blues favorites, sporting varying shades of modernity, and countryness, or folkiness, if you will...these are the things that Cheese Finger Brown is made of.

Cheese Finger Brown builds e
ach song as a vignette, a short audio film, with incidental sounds of wind, rain, lost piano, found vocals, guitars 'round the campfire heard from down on the dock. No drums, but rather handheld things that rattle, and scrape, and klannngg and kisssh...it's there in taut micro-grooves and organic snippets, all backwoods thrift store boogie science rolling 'round the room, but mmmmm...distorted, dirty, overheard insinuations, a momento mori, or ghost of blues. Cheese Finger Brown picks, drones, grinds, trips, disappears, winks, bobs and shake's it...hell, maybe even does a holy dance...just to get to you...and he will...

This album is ghost-laden, and as you listen there will be times you'll look to see if Low-Down People is still playing, or if it's switched to some cool, old, well-preserved Yazoo or Document Record...sounding like a field recording brought from a past sometime in the future.

Cheese Finger Brown brings a fresh ear to non-American (does it matter?) -blues, to alt-blues (whatever that is) bringing back the weird
old, olde America...as seen/ heard/ interpreted through the remove of a Dutch & Finnish eye. But, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then deconstructed replication is a form of flattery, too. Pim Zwijnenburg as Cheese Finger Brown is a sonics and texture-loving wolf who delivers the goods. At once deeply familiar yet foreign, not unlike a good Tom Waits album, or something David Eugene Edwards of Wovenhand/16HP might not have been involved in early on. 

Low-Down People
tells modern blues stories, using the old form as a canvas to color his songs, with bits of slide guitar, hard picking, maybe the rhythmic sproi-oing of a mouth harp, or somebody playing Hambone, and maybe the insistent insinuation of a banjo...some haunted harmonica...lo-fi vocals recorded in the backyard going deep in one ear and being whispered in the other. Ghostly gestures from who knows where, all very subtle, all very suggestive of other, of...place, but what place? It's not a dreamscape, per se, but it leansIt's music that suggests an other, an elsewhere, an American south imagined from books and music, and certainly movies, providing soundtracking for a neoteric Finlander. He makes creepy old American music sound creepier, without being creepy, thru the modern science of sonic technology. Or whatever.

The music, the stories, the vibe...vintage but not conscientiously so...it's the soundtrack to imagined danger...you sense it on a moonless four A.M. train stop in a south Georgia cabbage and potato town, a deep summer noon on a hot-oiled gravel road. Yet it's tasteful, as a glass of rye with three ice cubes, and a corn-cob pipeful, yet trippy as a Finnish dub-version of olde-timey American roots music. 

It's mystery that Cheese Finger Brown offers to the blues, and thank Goodness for that. 
On first sit & listen I imagined this album as a selection of 78s that somebody found at a yard sale in south Alabama, songs recorded by an artist no one had ever heard of, on records that had never been played. It's so then and now, Low-Down People, so blues history moderne, Trad old-timey blues caressed and rubbed down and burnished with The Future. Thoughtful, and engaging. Cheese Finger Brown has created a great album that bears up easily under...no...demands...repeated listenings. 
Low-Down People
is American roots music flavoured with subtle dublike effects that, while allowing the music to remain blues, gives the music a subtly mixed stoniness, an almost other-worldliness, that just drags your ears in. CFB's album is organic, populated by ghosts...of people, and the eidolon of found objects, and found sounds. Both take you elsewhere. 

Though Low-Down People mines distinctly American blues and folk forms, Cheese Finger Brown adds different leaves, different revenants, a different mystery to his blues that makes for a fascinating and 
adventurous album, that puts your ears and brain to work. It's a fun, interesting, and satisfying listen. I can't recommend it highly enough.


There is exactly one CFB video. The rest is mozzarella sticks.

12 October 2016

Robert Lee "Lil' Poochie" Watson & Hezekiah Early - Natchez Burnin'

// Broke And Hungry Records //

It's the air, or the electricity in the air, or the loessy scent of countryness...the smell of cotton and kudzu, deep loamy soil, rust and dried blood, sweat and barbecue smoke, worn rope, gasoline, hot metal, sun-dried wood, weed, whiskey, and lathered mule. Mississippi smells of The South, and whatever you think that is.

It's the Mississippiness of Mississippi, if you will. You want to talk about having Sense of Place? Mississippi is that place. And southern Mississippi? It's got something else. It's got east Louisiana.

Hometown of Guitarist/vocalist Lil' Poochie Watson and Hezekiah Early, drum and harp, Natchez, Mississippi sits a bridge and river away from Louisiana, just down around the bend from Jerry Lee Lewis' Ferriday, La.

Natchez has a little casino down by the Mississippi river, and they got Jughead's Fish Fry, and all the rest of what every other small, southern, river-side town has in one form or another: Hard-worn roots. Dirt under its nails. A chipped front tooth. Trotlines. Dog runs. Motor Court. Trash around the tracks. Hardwood. Hard time. Hard music. Big love. 


Let's talk about Natchez
Natchez was hardly touched by the civil war, but for one incident in 1851, involving the Union ironclad Essex which fired on the town in September of that year. One old fellow had a heart attack, and shrapnel killed seven-year-old Rosalie Beekman.

Now, you know the story about the fire, right?
The great Natchez Rhythm Club fire.
A gawd-awful, awful, unspeakably horrible thing.

This fire in Natchez, Ms in 1940 at the Rhythm Club killed two-hundred and nine people. That same fire inspired the dark blues standard, The Natchez Burning.

The southern Mississippi Civil Rights era was what one would expect of the horror of Nineteen-Sixties Mississippi. In 1964, 25-year-old Joe Edwards disappeared, and was believed, according to evidence given by a white pastor and a white banker, to have been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1966, the United States House Un-American Activities Committee published a list of Klan members in Natchez. The local paper mill alone had 70 members. Cops on down and local leaders on up were well-known members.

Terrorist groups like The Cottonmouth Moccasin Gang (whose members murdered Ben Chester White in an effort to draw Martin Luther King to Natchez so they could assassinate him) and The Mississippi Whitecaps, made up mostly of rural farmers, had Natchez and southwest Mississippi locked down.

These weren't the only racist gangs in south-west Mississippi. There were White Knights, Original Knights, United Klans of America, the Silver Dollar Group, and others all intent on putting their willfully ig'nunt dumbasswards racist shit-heeled boot down on the necks of black folks just for existing. But I digress...sort of...

In 1967, George Metcalf and Wharlest Jackson were blown up in separate unsolved car bombing incidents, and Natchez was the center of Klan activity for Mississippi. Poochie Watson was eighteen years old in 1969, and growing up around the piney woods of Fayette, Mississippi.

When Charles Evers, Medgar Ever's older brother, became, in Fayette, the first black mayor since reconstruction in Mississippi, Hezekiah Early was 35.

Look, nobody really needs me to recap a litany of The South's creeping southern dread and horror as entertainment schtick.

I simply propose that this history is in the flavor of Poochie Watson and Hezekiah Early's sound, filtered thru Arkansas, MississippiLouisiana, Alabama, and the vile reality of a lot of other places not necessarily in "the south." The past isn't even past. You know that. It's not the only flavor. There's a mess of Jerry Lee Lewis, seasoned and blackened with creole beats, the bite of a cold beer found in the back of the fridge on a hot day, T-Model Ford playing on the car radio, and white whiskey.

Watson and Early's town, with its hard rurality fronted by the Natchez Trace, and backed by The Riverlent itself to a particularly virulent, low, and nasty culture, hidden beneath the veneer of a pretty little Mississippi River town.

Which is the kind of culture that often leads to a good party. As the saying goes, "Mississippi: Born to party, forced to work."

Poochie Watson and Hezekiah Early know how to party. Now, that's not to say this is some weak blooze party music, on the contrary. They'll break your heart one song, and make you shake it til you break it the next.

Recorded in three hours, under the auspices of Broke And Hungry Records strongman Jeff Konkel at Delta Music Institute at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, Natchez Burnin' is blues played with a knife in its front pocket and a bottle of rye in the back.

This is blues that deserves a 180gm slab with a gatefold jacket, or better yet, to be issued as a 78. I don't think there has been a tougher blues recording made since T-Model Ford passed on.

Here's the run-down:

1. I Got My Eyes On You is Poochie Watson's raw funky pop blues rocker. It runs akin to boogies by Greenville's T-Model Ford, or Booba Barnes.

2. Shooby Dooby Doo is a Hezekiah Early number. A sweet but deceptive little song. Part street corner pop song to whistle, part lecherous blues. Nicely balanced. Early's occasional ululation, or warble at the end of a couple lines...is dirty, is what it is. His drums, hot like Tabasco and poppin' like corn, strollin' with Watson's nighttime bbq party guitar-style down a highway by the river.

3. I Feel So Bad is a Chick Willis song that makes for a good slow soundtrack to some hunchin'.

4. Mama Don't Love Papa is another Poochie Watson song. A spare, lean lament. Hezekiah Early's drums patter a ghostly heartbeat, his harp a howl in the wind, Watson's vocals raw, and real, his guitar primal and heartbroken. 

This is blues.

5. Baby, Please Don't Go - Built and popularized by Big Joe Williams on his nine-string guitar, and covered by Muddy Waters, AC/DC, Them, Al Kooper, The 'Stones, and Mose Allison, John Lee Hooker, and Jake Bugg, among at least a bajillion others, Watson and Early bring it, wring it out, and make it their own.

6. Ain't That Just Like A Woman - Another Louis Jordan rocker, and another raucous howler. This song played by these guys in a packed room of dancers has gotta be illegal in parts of Alabama. Come on now! Give the drummer some!

7. My Girl Josephine by Antoine "Fats" Domino really shows off Watson and Early's Lousiana'd rock and roll flavour, with Hezekiah Early's harp taking the place of an accordion, his drumming washboard-metronomic, Watson's gitar scratchin' like a chicken, this New Orleans boogie rocks the yard. #ROWR!

8. Just A Little Bit by Rosco Gordon - Hezekiah Early's drumming is swinging Natchez, leaning and crackling like a hot house on fire, Louisiana-style, baby. His harp a sharp shout, vocals rending the air, and Poochie's guitar sending out the call to all the ladies to come on home and give Poochie just a little bit.

9. Late In The Evening is Traditional, and has been recorded by Robert Pete Williams, and Ray Charles. Watson and Early's version falls closer to the former, than the latter. It retains the Williams flavor, but kicks it with Brother Ray's controlled burn.

10. Mr. Charlie - I've heard variations of this song of course, but the first time I ever gave it serious consideration was in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I saw T-Model Ford play it.

The bar T-Model played, a classic brass rail and fern bar, with the usual capacity of old white blues dudes in attendance. A couple of the fellahs were up front, drunk and ruddy-faced, asking loudly for Mr. Ford to, "play that one song you do...where...you kick that woman in the ass! PLAY THAT...one song where YOU....kick that woman...here's some MONEY!" and he stuffed his fat, soft fist into the tip jar.

T-Model Ford looked annoyed at the man and said something the likes of, "Oh, yes sir, boss man, Yessir, Mr. Charlie" then started playing Mr. Charlie. It no doubt went right over the oaf's head, but I caught it. It was well played and it slayed. I don't remember him playing I'm Insane that night at all.

But back to the lecture at hand, Poochie Watson's plaintive vocals bust this song open. His guitar, like Early's harp, is interpretive, tasteful, supportive, and economical, much like Early's drums. A lesson in the raw power of simplicity.

. Flip, Flop, and Fly - Big Joe Turner, baby! The original boss of the blues. What Turner had in smoothness, Watson and Early equals in raw early rock boogie fire. Primal pop rock.

12. Somebody Changed The Lock - Louis Jordan- This is Hezekiah Early's solo jam. Homespun vocals, homemade acoustic guitar, all you need for some straight up blues. A lost art, perfected.

Robert "Poochie" Watson & Hezekiah Early's album Natchez Burnin' is currently available to pre-order direct from Broke & Hungry Records. Get it.

05 August 2016

THE BONNEViLLES - Arrow Pierce My Heart

// Fb // Alive Records // Web // Youtube // iTunes // Motor Sounds Records // Spotify 

The Bonnevilles new hit record, Arrow Pierce My Heart, starts with a haunting, lo-fi, acapella prayer called The Bells of Hell Go Ting-A-Ling-A-Ling, a WWI British airmen's song, and it segues into a mono fade to stereo bomb drop guitar tone that rocks like the sound of Howlin' Wolf's 1969 amplifier rolling off the top of his station wagon. No Law In Lurgan, is a monster garage super rock boogie that sets the tone for the album. The Bonnevilles have sent notice: They ain't fuckin' around.


My Dark Heart is track two. A blues shouter you'll be blasting on a late afternoon flat-black motorcycle ride straight into the sun.


Track three, The Whiskey Lingers tells it like it is, if you like your liquor amber. A deeply grooving blues, it shows they've absorbed some Tupelo rock, a little North Mississippi trance action, and throttled it all thru a Nirvana/Stooges filter...wholly unavoidable, like The Beatles filter, it's in the air and in the water. Hold on! Singer/songwriter/guitarist Andrew McGibbon shines incredibly bright on this slab of blues rock implosion. Plucking, swinging, rolling. tumbling, sliding, grinding, McGibbon sails here...the performance...like the rainbow in a great glass of Rye whiskey, is stellar.


I don't know if The Electric Company is a metaphor for something or not. Maybe the dude in the song worked for The Electric Company ...and while on the job liked to "Get drunk! Get high! Get Some!" and more. Whatever. I don't know about all you, but I say hail! Flip the switch, and rock it, y'all. #ItsTooLateToDieYoung


Title song Arrow Pierce My Heart (#5) has Andy McGibbon playing an insistent, garagey tribal country spaghetti western surf guitar creep that transmogrifies into a feedback-breathing UFO-driven beast, hackles up. You'll be looking in the rearview mirror to see if McGibbon's guitar solo is catching up to you. Skinsman Chris McMullan gets a solid high-five for his hard slapping, one-driving-shoe-on-the-gas, one-boot-on-the-brake-drumming. #Wicked #OnPoint #Work


Song six is Eggs And Bread, a short, beautifully picked gallows song that speaks to the eternalness of love and the blues. That is all.


Lucky seven is I Dreamt of The Dead. It rocks. Hard. I'm thinking McGibbon (who produced the album) has some serious power-pop off-shoots from his blues roots. You'll hear some Dan Auerbachness in McGibbon's vocals, or maybe it's just his Northern Irish soul shining, either way, if you had the opportunity you'd buy this song as a 45, and keep flipping it over to play:

#8 - We've all felt it. You've weathered all manner of storms for a taste of love, and you fail it. Sing along: I've Come Too Far For Love To Die.


Erotica Laguna Lurgana is an instrumental intermission that takes you through the steamy, sultry sub-tropical rainforests, and wild west deserts of Lurgan, Northern Ireland. It will set you to whistling, again.


The Man With An X Shaped Scar On His Cheek tells the tale of just that. Not all the details, just the essentials. A roots-rock banjo-slugged chugger with a terrific, dark melody and driving rhythm...it runs just shy of a three-minute short story and teaches in its essence:


Song #11 is Those Little Lies :

noun: lie; plural noun: lies
1. an intentionally false statement.
"Mungo felt a pang of shame at telling Alice a lie"

intransitive verb
1a : to be or to stay at rest in a horizontal position : be prostrate : b : to assume a horizontal position —often used with down C : archaic : to reside temporarily : stay for the night : lodge d : to have sexual intercourse —used with with e : to remain inactive (as in concealment)
2: to be in a helpless or defenseless state
3: Rotten fruits on harvest day


Number twelve!
Learning To Cope is a wailer, a wall of gnarly Stooges soul garage punk blast... imagine The Undertones squad up with The Clash to produce The Cramps, and The Afghan Whigs cover it. Drummer Chris McMullan is a monster robot, destroying everything in his path...and doing it locked in. Another Bonnevilles song that'd make a great 45.



Song Thirteen, baby.
The closer.
Who Do I Have To Kill To Get Out of Here?
The Bonnevilles start the album with a prayer, and close it with a post-grunge howl, a thumping anthem for something we can't imagine, that we all fear is coming because of what we've done...and all that's missing is a bottle of George Dickel, a horn section...and a longer fade out.

If you're one of those who, for some reason, felt
disenfranchised after the first two Black Keys albums, or maybe the first one even, and that's not meant to slag on The Bk's...some folks feel that way. Whatever. But you'll never deny the influence, bad and world-wide...or maybe you're still bemoaning the loss of The White Stripes, then you must rock out The Bonnevilles' new album, Arrow Pierce My Heart.

The Bonnevilles, like The BK's, are flavourful muthrs. They know their rock and blues deeply, but they've absorbed it, made it their own, and mutated it, rather than wearing it like a dress-up badge or a special hat.

The Bonnevilles are their own thing. Post-grunge blues-infected rock and post-Fat Possum-infected-punkass blues dressed up in new suits and fightin' boots, like city folks, but dusty with Irish country soul. They're stadium rockers at the corner pub, they're the band you wish someone would play for you when you think no one knows how to rock anymore. They're probably what you've been waiting for.


08 July 2016

MUDLOW - Letter To Louise ep

fb // web // bandcamp // yt // noisetrade // spotify/ cdbaby

Mudlow's new ep Letter To Louise
 continues their exploration of swampy, over the ocean, but regionless dark lit blues.

The second of what is to be a trilogy of eps, to be combined with bonus tracks into an album, Mudlow break no new ground here, and that's good (though the recording by bassist Paul Pascoe is even better than ever) rather they stick to their minacious, foggy wet port street, rock/ blues / jazz/ soundtrack thing they do so well.

From the threat of storm gorgeous bleary and near-sighted cover photograph by Casey Weber (shot at the same spot as the last ep, Minnesota Snow, released in 2015) to the swamped-out dark noir Brit themes of lost and broken brick hard men and clinker-sharp women, the scene: a dark paneled honky-tonk...broken glass...nicotine fingers...and good, good whisky.  There's a deeper sensuousness to these new recordings, the performances not just great, but now impressive.
Lyrically detailed, Tobias' singing has become more...refined...agile, yet still with a timbre like a well-dressed old man with a mouth full of cigar. His guitar skills have grown dramatically since the band discontinued using a sax player, his playing even more jazz-tinged than previous, in the way that Nick Cave or Jeffrey Lee Pierce could be jazz-tinged, his writing never stronger. Always a literature guy, Tobias tells earthy short stories, rooted in trouble, populated by characters, and those characters have never been never more alive in their troubles than on Letter To Louise.

Here's the run-down:

Track one is Letter To Louise, a reminder of all that Mudlow is about. Mid-tempo groovy, menacingly sexy bass groove, electric guitar picked with danger, south-east Tejas lounge drums...the whole thing would not sound out of place in a Tarrantino film. It is lyrically, I'm told, a re-investigation or re-working of a track called Horse Nails that Mudlow's singer/ guitarist/songwriter Tobias, did with guitarist Jon Wood several years ago. But where Horse Nails is folky, plucked, and insistent, yet imbued with the usual blue Mudlow desperate menace,  Letter To Louise is slower, groovier, creepier. Mudlow is on point as always as they drag Letter To Louise out the gate of Dr. John's backyard, and down to the old paved road into the gloaming. You know by seven-seconds into the song that nothing good can come of this story, somebody's gonna end up hurt.

Track two is Mad Mary Lou, a next-gen north Mississippi/Memphis mid-tempo Brighton blues boogie about yr local gal, and a party in the woods, and running out of roses at the cemetery. That's a scene that does not bode well, and it becomes clear by the first hook that all this scene lacks is a horn section, and a bonfire. #spodee #Stilettointhemud #Canofmace

Number three is Good Whiskey, and it's the band's most atmospherically lovely and epicly understated, which says a lot for a band that excels at atmosphere and understatement. Good Whiskey is a deftly finger-picked, sea-side town folk-blues that tastefully shows off just how fine a guitarist Tobias really is, as well as his lyrical depth, and ability to weave a short story within the constrictions of the song form. That he has a terrific (in the true sense of the word) band that can match him step for step through the moods he sets is a bonus. Mudlow make's each vignette striking, like a well-worn, hand decorated, old-fashioned Par Avion envelope, the address nearly invisible now, one word barely there, well-read and folded...Waits.

Engineer/producer,bassist Paul Pascoe' production keeps your ears leaning in, his fine, subtle taste in textures, and his sensitivity to moods supports the simple instrumentation, his bass work holding it down, but walking just right, with a lean.

Drummer Matt Latcham...rock solid and spot on, his playing tasteful yet primal, swinging like dancers in the dirt. Latcham's always played with a certain ease and loose change in the pocket, and that's what you want for a band like Mudlow. Sonic bonus points to producer Pascoe for the recording of Latcham's trap set, btw.

Mudlow play the soundtrack to the dark worries...
when you
 can't sleep at night!
trouble everyday!
The dread of a flat tire
on a country two-lane road
at ten o'clock at night,
where you can still be seen.
Somebody's at the back door,
there's a lady at the bar you used to know, and she's strapped,
...and a jukebox plays a Mudlow album.