Reviews roundup – Sari Schorr ~ Bill Blue ~ The Holy Road ~ The Henleys ~ Distant Land ~ Circus Ricky
Live In Europe
I like Sari Schorr. Or rather I like her music. Never met here. Could be a right besom for all I know. I like to think not. But….
But musically, she is really good. “Force of Nature” was a cracking debut, “Never Say Never” was, well, different but good. But now it’s live album time and, frankly, this is as good as it gets.
A fine mix of her two albums, some choice covers, a band that probably needed to be extinguished on a regular basis, so on fire are they, and the superb voice of Ms Schorr soaring over the top.
Recorded on her European tour in 2019 it sees Ash Wilson on guitar, Mat Beable on bass, Roy Martin on drums and Steve Watts/Bob Fridzema (depending on what nights were recorded) on keyboards putting a lot of other electric blues bands to shame. Even the songs from “Never Say Never” have extra dynamics here and the recordings sound amazing. So, a round of applause to the recording engineer.
There isn’t a bum track on offer here but ‘Valentine’, ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You’ and ‘Ain’t Got No Money’ are absolutely incendiary. Live blues rock doesn’t get better than this so do yourself a favour.
The King of Crazy Town
Conch Town Music
Once upon a time a wee fella fae Carolina toured and played guitar with Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. He then released a few albums of his own and toured the clubs. Then he vanished for a quarter of a century.
Or at least lived in the Florida Keys which is as close to being invisible as possible. But then in 2013 he met producer Ian Shaw and released the “Mojolation” album. And a mere seven years later he’s back with a follow up. And it’s really enjoyable.
There are a bazillion musicians involved plus backing vocalists and a horn section. But it’s the songs that really get you. Musically, there is a swamp blues feel to proceedings while his individualistic voice talks and sings his way through an array of self penned tales. Apart from an Eddie Hinton track you’ll find on his 1978 album “Very Extremely Dangerous”. And if you know anything about Eddie Hinton that will actually point you in the direction of the music on offer here. So there are hints of southern soul, swamp rock and chickens.
This is the kind of record that is designed to put a smile on your face, a drink in your hand and a lady in your lap. It’s funky, it’s fun and it’s full of flavour. Another record without a duff track, the first few plays have thrown up ‘Do What I Say Don’t Do What I Do’, ‘Everybody’s Leaving Town’ and ‘You Ain’t Fun Anymore’ as early highlights. This is one that’s due a lot of playtime.
THE HOLY ROAD
The Minotaur (Mesto In A-Minor)
According to Jonathan Stolber, who is The Holy Road, I once said nice things about his erstwhile post-rock outfit To Bury A Ghost.
I find that hard to believe as me and post-rock usually go together like Rolf Harris and a sleepover. But I’m an old drunkard who toils with the days of the week so have to take his word for it. Or maybe he just says that to all the boys.
Now, pay attention. You might all be waiting for the End of Days but it turns out that Saturday 28th March is Piano Day 2020. Nope, me neither. But that’s why this is coming out when it does, in advance of his forthcoming debut album “For The Blood Of England.”
Actually, as we’re all staring down the bat infested barrel of the apocalypse, the lead track here could easily soundtrack the end of the world. It has that slowly going down in flames feel to it as the piano (naturally) and string quartet slowly build to a cataclysm. People who know who Michael Nyman is will really like this. The rest of us will go, ooh, that’s a bit Dark Knighty, but will equally enjoy it.
Oh, and all proceeds from the Bandcamp download ‘The Minotaur’ will be donated in aid of mental health awareness : http://www.tinychanges.com – so just buy it on Saturday anyway. “Pure joy is just a memory”. Tell me about it.
On The Rocks
I like some of the song titles. ‘Honey Badger’, ‘Stevie & The Knicks’, ‘Need More Whiskey’, ‘Tasty Cakes’.
So that’s a good start to the debut album from Tampa, Florida indie rock outfit The Henleys. Which isn’t a good name. Especially with no Henleys in the band and not a hint of Eagles soft rock.
This lineup has been together for a couple of years with drummer Chris McDonald and bassist Evan Frazier linking up with guitarist Ryan Baker and vocalist Gabriela Lopez. Ms Lopez is a fine singer and the band are no slouches but for an outfit who claim Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Rival Sons as influences there is little of that on show.
At times they do go a bit heavy psych. Which is nice. ‘The Stash’ is a good example of that. But when they try to play the blues then it doesn’t really work. They actually work best when they hit an indie rock vibe as it seems as though that’s where their sound belongs. The production is lacking in a few places but when you’ve headed down the independent route that’s to be expected. There are enough musical nuggets tucked away in the likes of ‘Ladies Man’ and ‘Johnny 2X’ to suggest that there is definitely something good in their future. But for now it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
To the mythical kingdom of Australasia where 12 years ago Robert and Vena Cartledge recorded the early versions of the songs here. Then buried them in the hope that should their continent ever be discovered that the alien explorers would take pity on them.
Well they got fed up waiting, dug the tapes up, tried to remember what tapes were and prepared them for the modern world.
And if you like scorching guitars, heavy psych and vocals that are still upsetting dingos then this is something you want to hear. I know I do. To be fair, a lot of the riffs and rhythms pop up more than once but if you accept the premise that they’re going for a vibe then you get used to it. The rhythm section of Neil Williams and Anthony Ciccarello do a bang up job and when the whole soars off towards outer space as it does on ‘Slow It Down’, then it’s an enjoyable place to be.
I’m not going to argue with anyone who reckons ‘Woe To Me’ could have done with a couple of minutes chopped off but aided by a sprightly production this is something that deserved exhumation. One for The Tea Party fans out there. The band, that is.
Well, anyone who names themselves after a vodka based cocktail gets my vote.
Mind you I wouldn’t have picked a fight with them twenty years ago. Although they actually predate that, an early incarnation having kicked off in the early nineties.
Which explains the grunge feel to a lot of the material here. That’s not a bad thing, especially when they throw a few classic metal shapes into the mix. And it’s when they keep it heavy that it works best. When they concentrate on the grunge side of things – ‘Race For the Moon’ – I start to wonder about whether that chicken is past its sell by date or whether I should bring the washing in. But when they keep it loud and shouty – ‘The Storm Is Coming’ and ‘Black Knight’ – then I find myself air drumming with the best of them.
They’ve been through a bazillion members of the years while punting out covers in clubs and it’s to their credit that they’ve kept going and punted out a decent album of original material. I wouldn’t say no to a night of vodka while they blasted this out in a Cincinnati dive bar. and neither should you.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton