Hot on the heels of their live album recorded at a coffee shop in Ashland Virginia last year here’s a new studio album from The Hot Seats. They unveiled several of the songs and tunes on the album when they played here in May and anyone who knows the band will know what to expect here. That’s not to say that they are repeating themselves or going through the motions. Rather it’s another opportunity to marvel at their musical dexterity and to revel in their essential mixture of reverence and goofiness. Driving string driven workouts such as No Plans and Here To Get My Baby Out of Jail swing like hell and allow for plenty of inspired fiddle, banjo and guitar licks while the instrumental interludes (Rattletrap, Mineola Rag, Beasties In The Sugar, Hell and Scissors) almost inspire one to start a barn dance in front of the old desk. While the sheer vim and vigour of this whirlwind of plucking and picking makes The Hot Seats a must see live attraction their more restrained jug band side excels on the recorded medium. The rather risqué Peaches (unofficially accorded the title of the top song of the Shetland Folk Festival they recently played) allows Josh Bearman to fully wallow in the potential lasciviousness of this entendre laden ditty while the band slink along with a devilish mischievousness. Bearman carries on in this vein on Reminisce and Damaged Goods while his erstwhile bandmates strum and pick excellently along. The album culminates in the wonderfully titled I Wouldn’t Take Her To a Dog Fight, a song recorded by country singer Charlie Walker which for some might seem a tag misogynist. A great rendition by the band with all of their signature elements it’s a fine end to the album however we must say that on finding out that Walker’s version of this was recorded in 1967 was a surprise as the attitudes contained therein are somewhat antediluvian.
We must mention here that due to the sweet talking of the band members’ Blabber’n’Smoke was cajoled into buying a companion disc to this album at their gig in the Universal in May. Titled Leftovers it has six pieces they recorded but didn’t put on Feel. No barrel scraping here with Yonder Comes A Sucker a fine addition to the canon while they positively buzz on the instrumental Shaking Down The Acorns. Benjo is a measured and almost stately banjo rag with some rugged guitar and washboard backing. Ragged But Right is a fine piece of country braggadocio and Texas Gals is a veritable hurricane of ensemble playing with fingers flying and strings a buzzin’. A hidden song at the end has one of the band singing a plaintive cowboy trail type song, a little out of character for the band but a neat little addendum for fans.