Reviews roundup ~ Robert Jon & The Wreck ~ Robert J. Hunter ~ Sheridan ~ The Cartographer
ROBERT JON & THE WRECK
Shine A Light On Me Brother
I’m verra excited about this. I’ve had the vinyl on pre-order for ages but here’s the digital promo hingy a month in advance. I was tempted not to listen and save it for the full vinyl experience but who knows if I’ll be here four weeks fae now. So.
“Last Light On The Highway” from last year was absolutely stunning. Is there likely to be a better song than ‘Tired Of Drinking Alone’ anytime this century? Probably not. But they’ve given it a fair old go.
They’ve been at this for ten years now and they’re one of those rare bands that keep on getting better. Now that my beloved Blackberries are into a two album slump I reckon that Robert Jon & The Wreck have eased into the number one slot on my southern rock meets blues meets soul favourite type favourites thing.
Because this sixth studio album is another cracker from Robert Jon Burrison on lead vocals and guitar, Andrew Espantman on drums and background vocals, Steve Maggiora keys and background vocals, Henry James on lead guitar and Warren Murrel on bass.
They start off with the title track which you should all be very familiar with by now. And if not, WHY NOT? Damn you. The video single thing has been out for ages now and quite how it only has 13k views is beyond me. Sometimes I think you’re all fools. Away from the title track it’s gold plated from top to bottom as the band effortlessly ease through another set of gems, mixed metaphors and all.
There are a lot of horns on this record which counts as a very good thing especially when they hit a mid paced groove like ‘Chicago’ where the horns are absolutely smoking. Of the slow tunes ‘Hurricane’ is an early favourite but then I’ve always been a sucker for a love done me wrong kind of song. But it’s not all mellow as the mighty fine riff of ‘Movin’ will attest. My favourite? Well anyway who knows me will understand why ‘Brother’ is the stone cold killer on this record. Although the funky shuffle of ‘Radio’ is the best way to end any record. All other bands, please note.
This is one of those records that makes me glad I can still find it in me to listen to music. Buy it now.
ROBERT J. HUNTER
Nothing But Rust
What a week for Roberts the world over as both my favourite musical Roberts have punted new albums my way. First Robert Jon & The Wreck and now Robert J. Hunter who really ought to make his mind up whether he’s a band or not as it fair messes with my digital cataloguing. Mind you, I’ve got this pre-ordered on vinyl as well.
So what have we got this time from the bluesman ever to hail from Alderney (pop. 2039). Well, more of the same to be honest. But that’s like saying there’s too much bacon. Or butter. An utter nonsense and anyone who says so should be shunned with the cold rage of a thousand dying stars. Because what (the) Robert J. Hunter (Band) do is blues rock. And sometimes rock blues. But damn they’re good.
They’re at the grittier end of things so there are plenty of guitar solos and strong riffs while Mr Hunter channels 1974 Rod Stewart. The opening ‘Suitcase Blues’ is a strong statement but it’s when the keyboards make themselves known on ‘Good People’ that my bits start to stir. That’s a song you want to hear in a sweaty club, six pints in. Just enough so that you can execute a shuffle without falling over.
They’ve got swagger and they’ve got style and anyone who rejoiced in the early Black Crowes will clutch ‘Easy Street’ to their bejangled chests and shed a discreet yet noticeable amount of tears. I’m old so I hear a lot of Frankie Fuckin’ Miller in these grooves. Or I will once the vinyl comes out. But there’s a richness and a warmth even in the cold clutch of a digital file. Which is quite a feat. I have a strong feeling that this is destined to be one of my ten o’clock at night, whisky drinking favourites as there isn’t a single song here that won’t end up being a close, personal friend. A delight.
What the hippity hop is going on here? Well, hip hop actually. As the nomenclatured Sheridan who is, apparently, a hip-hop/pop artist and musical chameleon drops (hah!) an EP.
It’s more of a mini album as it clocks in at 26 and a bit minutes and as hip hop goes it’s no bad. By that I mean there is actually some interesting music going on here. It’s quite jazzy in places while elsewhere there are nods back to early nineties Dr. Dre and G-Funk. Which I actually have fond memories of unlike most of what’s happened in the last twenty years in the genre.
There are no credits so I don’t know what Sheridan Carter Crane is responsible for but in between the rapping he uses a surprisingly mellow, almost easy listening light voice, that really enhances tunes like ‘Hell’ and ‘Rewinds. In places it’s actually quite tender sounding which wasn’t something I was expecting. To my untrained ears it sounds very old fashioned but that’s a plus point for me as Sheridan actually knows what a melody is. A pleasant surprise.
Eh? With a name like that, a title like that and cover art like that I’d girded myself up for some full on prog. Not metalcore. Metalcore! Who knew.
Of course people who really, really love sub-genres will tut and start banging on about technical djent and whatnots but these are the kind of people you should studiously ignore. It’s quite easy. They’re fairly timid and don’t like being looked in the eye.
They’re a relatively young band having punted out their debut in 2017 which may seem like a long time ago but the whole pandemic nonsense threw conventional notions of time passing right out the window. So what are you getting? Well they’re really good at the chugging riffs that are necessary for this Type of Thing. In fact, the chugging guitars are a real treat.
Obviously this isn’t a world that I normally inhabit but I’m pretty sure they grew up as Meshuggah fans and the stuttering riffs and sound effects are quite magnificent in places. The first track is the real killer which is why I would imagine they pushed it as single. ‘Overcome’ has an adventurous bent to it that some of the more brutal numbers lack. Don’t get me wrong. They’re ferocious. But it’s when they get a wee bit proggy that the interest-ometer really kicks in. For sure, I’m never going to warm to the style of vocals that are so predominant in this style of music. But, by jingo, the musical side of it is splendid. Take a listen to ‘Godless’ and focus on the music. Boom!
If organised chaos was their aim then objective achieved.
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