Reviews roundup – Jon Boden vs. Ross Neilsen vs. Kissing Lucifer vs. Nova Cycle vs. The Vaudevillian
Painted Lady (10th anniversary edition)
Bellowhead packed it in earlier this year and the record label are reducing the chance of folk forgetting about lead singer Jon Boden by bunging out a reissue of his debut solo album from 2006.
The original album featured 12 songs written by Boden and it was certainly an eclectic affair with the usual folk suspects – banjo, fiddle etc – augmented by glockenspiels, Moog synthesiser and drum machines. They’ve padded it out with some bonus tracks including an lo-fi indie go at the Whitney Houston song “I Want To Dance (with Somebody)”, all of which confirms what we knew all along.
Namely, that Mr Boden has a far reaching talent. Elsewhere he mixes up more familiar, traditional sounding folk tunes with some rock and indie touches, some of which may come as a surprise to latter day Bellowhead fans. It’s certainly worth hearing if you missed it first time round but he ought to get his finger out and give us some new tunes.
Catch him on a UK solo tour in November 2016.
Off to the Canadian colonies now for some roots meets blues courtesy of Ross Neilsen.
He’s a hard working musician over in his homeland having punted out nine albums and performed over 1,500 concerts in the last ten years. That all came about post 2007 when he had a Damascan moment which resulted in him leaving his job, his relationship and his home.
He’s working in that wide open road idiom that is peculiar to North America where his blues roots are combined with The Band and Springsteen, without ever getting bogged down in the plod of the latter. He’s certainly a fine songwriter as tunes like “City of Regret” and “Step Into the Light” ably demonstrate, while a sympathetic production brings them to life.
He’s got some great musicians working with him, with the steel guitar work bordering on the spectacular. It’s certainly easy to hear how he’s racked up dozens of awards and nominations over the years and if he’s knew to you (as he was to me) then it’s time to put that omission to rights.
Time to get stoned! Now Switzerland wouldn’t have been my first choice for that. Dodgy banking and chocolate, yes. Maybe even a custom made cuckoo clock. But Kissing Lucifer aren’t interested in that.
I do know that Friar Tony at St. Mary’s would heartily disapprove of them but, hey, that’s what confession is for, so I’m happy to strike a pose and riff out. Oliver Amberg is the main man here and folks with long memories will recall him having stints with Celtic Frost and Coroner back in the day. Of course his CF stint coincided with ‘Cold Lake’ and we NEVER talk about that.
Nowadays, along with Dave Fabian (guitar), Becky Gaber (vocals) and Max Saidi (drums) he bunged out an EP prior to this album and you could smell the Blue Cheer from here. See, he’s not interested in modern desert rock. No, it’s the primordial sludge that attracts him and it is good.
“The Big Slumber”, “Steam Punk Angel” and “Deuce Chatartic” will rock your world given half a chance as they power into your brain with recless abandon. So give them that chance. You won’t regret it.
We’re jumping into our amphetamine fuelled batcopter now and heading off to Los Angeles, California. But we’re not going for a cock rock blow out with the remaining members of Pretty Boy Floyd. No, we’re going to get more stoned! S’true.
Because what self proclaimed psych metal band Nova Cycle are doing is basically the same. To wit, stoner. Yes, Nova Cycle have that same seventies vibe going on, albeit one with a few more QOTSA influences than is good for anyone.
They’ve certainly got a good sound going, which may be down to producer Sean Oakley who cut his teeth second engineering for the likes of Black Sabbath, ZZ Top and Muse. We won’t mention Ed Sheeran to save everyones embarassment. But he’s certainly got the best out os some cracking tunes with “Metropolis” and “Shine” absolute corkers. They’re also Motorhead song titles which helps.
They’ve got the riffs and they’ve got the grooves. Get them on a co-headliner with Kissing Lucifer and watch an entire generation of stoner fans implode with joy.
Bringing Satan Down
Another trip on the amphetamine fuelled batcopter takes us from California to the frozen wastelands of Hamilton, Ontario. Actually, it’s on the same latitude as Northern Spain which must have come as a hell of a shock to my distant relation George back in 1812.
Fast forward and what we have is a thirties throwback ragtime band featuring Norah Spades (vocals, washboard and kazoo), Brendan J. Stephens aka ‘Jitterbug James (vocals, guitar & carzoobamaphone) and Guy’ Piedmont ‘Johnson (vocals, bass). And, no, I don’t know what a carzoobamaphone is, although I suspect it may have something to do with shagging a giraffe in the back of a pick up truck.
So this is one for folks who like things down old tyme stylee and I count myself as one of them. It’s especially fine for those who like songs about drinking, winching and jitterbugging. Which is, surely, all of us. It’s a bit near the bone in places. Or that could be my mucky mind and songs like “Sweet Honey Thighs”, “Dry Bone Shuffle” and “Grind So Fine” are actually about exercises in cooking. The original material is fine and the cover of “He’s in the Jailhouse Now” shows just how well they’ve got their sound sorted. Of course it’s also the theme tune of my Uncle Davie who was the last man to be arrested in Embra for sheep rustling circa 1979.
Great fun from start to finish.