In the part of England where I live summer has hidden itself behind dark clouds. I took to gardening on Sunday but had to stop when the rain came. Today is overcast so I sit gazing out my window onto the shrubbery outside making the title of this piece fraudulent. Call it poetic license.The last few months, three in total, my time and attention have been given more to my mother than anything else. Consequently I have written less barely keeping my blog alive but seldom visiting those blogs and bloggers I have in recent years.
My love of music, of film, of comics and of books has not stopped. Slowed down a bit maybe but not sufficient to halt my listening, watching or reading whenever possible.The last new music I wrote of was back in April. This hasn’t meant my not hearing anything new just my not having time to comment. There has been the usual mix of music’s which have appealed to be ranging from Blur’s “The Magic Whip,” Bjork’s “Vulnicura,” Neil Young’s “Monsanto Years,” Seasick Steve’s “Sonic Soul Surfer,” Django Django’s “Born Under Saturn,” Richard Thompson’s “Still,” Polar Bear’s “Same as You,” and last but not least of all Eliza Carthy and Tim Erickson’s “Bottle.” The list could be longer but I seek neither to impress or depress nor bore you. Hell, I just enjoy noise.
Anyway, months have passed and not a whisper from me in terms of music. I shan’t write an overly long post with all the albums I have heard but a short, sharp and hopefully succinct one.
“Sonic Soul Surfer” is one of the albums from this bunch that really sticks out. His primitive sound is the blues incarnate. Steve lives and breathes that genre. It is part of his being. If I were Hindu or Buddhist and believed in reincarnation then Steve is Leadbelly. Even when at Glastonbury he makes the large expanse of space intimate. He does this by delivering music that is handmade, literally. Each bent note wraps its self around the core of what it is to be roots then growls its feral way back to the audience. It is the music of hubcaps and haystacks. American as bourbon. You feel as though he is singing to you. A rare gift. I found myself tapping my boot heels in time to the beat. That first track, “Roy’s Gang” pounds like a steel toe cap on a tea chest. Steel guitar slides a hot finger up your thigh insisting you move your leg. Spit and sawdust. Handclaps and rivet guns. It ends with a fall out of instruments as each one argues with the other. Track two, “Bring It On,” slap happy and driven, snaggles a tune both happy and wanton that bowls along, chugs along on the back of those rim shots and the hi-hat crisply hit. The slide runs up and down with its limited variation of notes, few but feverish. Track three, “Dog Gonna Play,” is slowed down, sow in the mud, pigs trudging through a waterhole. It’s more measured than the first two songs, more restrained yet with that restraint comes menace. “In Peaceful Dreams,” track four, is contemplative. A fiddle cross weaves a tune past a banjo plucked. Steve tones his vocals so that you get the impression of his reflective thoughts tumbling, crossing his mind. “Summertime Boy” with its Jews Harp and the rickety tack drums with their flying cymbal crashes coupled with that withheld yet still brash guitar force the beast along to a stumbling end. Track six is “Swamp Dog” a song that repeats the lyric over in a slow drawl with the guitar adding to the overall sound of danger, of a gun cocked and primed ready for to kill. “Sonic Soul Boogie” is back on the money. The tempo is up. The rhythm banged out by the sticks slapping against each before a tambourine joins the fray then a cymbal being stoked. And that guitar buzz sawing and sliding up and down the scales. It is a song that fly’s rather than dawdles. “Right On Time” disproves those that think Steve is a one trick pony. It is sweet natured, loving and beautifully crafted yet remains true to the folk ambience of American Country Blues. A revelation. “Barracuda 68” is a stomp. Tank filled and fuelled up. Motoring. Freeway. Roof down. Breeze blowing. Four down and sixty. Again it’s the fusion of drums and guitar that make this all work. It’s rather like a rough and ready White Stripes if such a thing could exist.
This album for me is the best of the bunch.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.