“Rockgrass” band Hayseed Dixie are incredibly popular with their unique blend of whizzbang playing and sense of humour. not regulars at Blabber’n’Smoke there’s no denying their ability to send themselves up while whipping a crowd into a frenzy with frenetic thrashes through heavy metal classics such as War Pig. Now frontman John Wheeler sets out on a short UK tour promoting his debut solo album ‘Un-American Gothic’. He’s appearing at Oran Mor on November 28 and pops up in Aberdeen as well. Judging from the song below, the first single from his album, he retains a sense of humour but musically is heading into the mainstream with Deeper In Debt alluding to the current fiscal state of the states while he recently wrote an article on the Presidential election for Q magazine.
November 21 – Wednesday – Bristol, England – Colston Hall
November 22 – Thursday – Exeter, England – Phoenix
November 23 – Friday – Salisbury, England – Arts Centre
November 24 – Saturday – Yeovil, England – Quicksilver Mail
November 25 – Sunday – Stoke on Trent, England – Sugarmill
November 27 – Tuesday – Aberdeen, Scotland – Lemon Tree
November 28 – Wednesday – Glasgow, Scotland – Oran Mor
November 29 – Thursday – Newcastle, England – The Cluny
November 30 – Friday – Pocklington, England – Arts Centre
December 1 – Saturday – Holmfirth, England – Picturedrome
Seems these days that there’s no end to locally produced Americana with the likes of Jim Dead, The Dirty Beggars and Old Dollar Bill releasing top-notch albums this year. Well we can add Fifers The David Latto Band to this roll call as they conjure up this fine slice of country influenced songs featuring some fine back porch picking and an excellent ear for the idiom. Starting off with the breezy Like I Feel Tonight the listener might think they’re in for some fairly good 70’s influenced West coast country rock as the band coast down the highway strumming away and adding some tasty guitar breaks. A mite misleading however as thereafter they rein in the rock side and settle down to offer a more traditional sound starting off with the fast paced romp that is Byway Man where fingers fly over fiddle and acoustic guitar. An energetic rabble rouser, Byway Man gives an indication of why the band were crowd favourites at Belladrum and the Perth based Southern Fried Festival as it’s guaranteed to have an audience on its feet. Having fired up the blood with these opening songs the band hunker down around the campfire with the remainder of the album having a more laid back feel. Whether it be the Neil Young Harvest era banjo plunk of Wronged, the Whiskeytown influenced Rollin’ On, the soulful guitar on the masterly ballad Wait A Minute or the stark Black Horse with its excellent harmony singing this is where the band excel. The dreamlike Song You’ll Never Hear embellishes their sad sound with some very evocative pedal steel and is the highlight here. While Latto’s voice captures just the right amount of pathos his bandmates (Gavin Brady, Jim Hyndman, Atholl Fraser and John Alexander) add some inspired playing that could easily have been the work of the best country music sessioneers. Harking back to the opening crowd pleasers they end the album with another rambunctious skiffle dedicated to the demon drink on God. I’m Drinking Tonight. A fine debut and definitely one to watch.
Texan LaFave is yet another one of those old dependables whom you can rely on to come up with the goods regularly with fine examples of Texan tales and telling. Depending on the Distance however has been a few years in the making with LaFave concentrating on setting up his own label, Music Road Records in the meantime. The good news for his fans is that it’s been worth the wait as he delivers another fine slice of originals along with a few covers including a superb reading of Dylan’s Red River Shore. A great song, Dylan recorded it for Time Out Of Mind but for his own inexplicable reasons shelved it only to unveil it several years later on the Tell Tale Signs collection. In any case LaFave lathers love and attention on it to the extent that at times it’s breathtaking, nine and a half minutes of Nirvana. There are two other Dylan covers, the well kent Tomorrow Is A Long Time which is approached a little too respectfully although there is a fine guitar solo within it and I’ll Remember You (from Empire Burlesque). While Red River Shore is excellent one wonders why LaFave adds the other two as the eight original songs he delivers stand up well in their own right. Clear Blue Sky, the opening cut sets out his stall perfectly; a fine-tuned love song with a touch of tenderness and regret LaFave has just the right amount of heartfelt tug in his voice while the backing is exemplary. Living In Your Light repeats this with the band approaching an affecting southern soul sound with some fine curling guitar while Red Dirt Night gets all swampy and dirty in a bayou style. Despite the quality of his own songs LaFave has another two covers to add to this collection. Springsteen’s Land of Hope and Dreams is captured perfectly and fits in well with the overall sound of the album however his version of John Waite’s eighties anthem Missing You sticks out like a sore thumb.
Revitalised Glasgow garage rockers The Primevals showed that they had the energy of most bands half their age on the ultra cool and shiny blitzkreig that was Disinhibitor, their first major release in more than a decade back at the beginning of 2011. Disinhibitor packed 18 songs into its fist, a helter skelter listen indeed that left the listener punchdrunk by the end. Heavy War however adds some dizzyingly intoxicating strung out grooves in addition to the short sharp shocks one expects. The return of original guitarist Tom Rafferty and the addition of Martyn Rodger (guitar, keyboards) to the line up does little to change the basic Primevals’ template which maintains their allegiance to the likes of the MC5, The Cramps and The Gun Club. The rock solid rhythm section of John Honeyman and Paul Bridges piledrives away while Mickey Rooney continues to communicate with the ghosts of Jim Morrison and Jeffrey Lee Pierce as the shamanistic front man of this inspired band. The line up change however does afford a leaner guitar sound, less crunchy, more corkscrewed with the guitars adding a swampier touch to several of the songs.
Howling from the gate with the energetic Way Beyond Tore Up which is MC5 personified they simultaneously fly the flag and burn it with a song that transports the listener to Detroit circa ’68 as the guitars spit and burn. A mutant Bo Diddley meets Captain Beefheart riff introduces the slick Predeliction For the Blues with slide guitar sliding way off the Richter scale as the song gathers momentum much like Kowalski before he hits the barriers in Vanishing Point. Hit The Peaks is another turbo charged careen down the highway with the band going at it pell mell with Rooney crooning a la Iggy Pop surrounded by snarly guitars and he remains inside his Iggy skin for the blustering boogie of High Rich Times. Further shades of NY punk abound elsewhere with The Dead Boys summoned up on Rightful Duty however the Primevals are no mere copycats as they celebrate their forebears and build on their foundations. One could mention the Seeds and especially The 13th Floor Elevators as guiding lights here as they fuse garage band punk with psychedelia. The Lure of Desire’s swirling organ is certainly trippy while Keep Coming Back, the only song to feature acoustic guitar is reminiscent of the first tentative attempts of sixties SF bands to marry the sounds in their heads with the songs they were playing. They also capture a beautiful and gutsy swollen Flamin’ Groovies’ guitar sound towards the end of Undertow.
The sunny side of psychedelic music, particularly the LA type, always had a dark underbelly which fed into the songs of The Doors and Arthur Lee. The band capture this sense of menace on Coming From The Hills, a brooding number that recalls the panic at the poolside’s following the Manson gang murders with some switchblade guitar to drive the point home. Two minor epics on the album capture this confused mixture of wonderment and dread, mind experiments and the intrusion of reality. Don’t be Afraid to Cry is a trip into the twilight zone , a haunted howl with Rooney searching for sensation, stimulation, elevation, deviation as the band locks into a stoned groove and the guitarists mainline Robby Krieger with their woozy delta arabesque guitar swirlings. In A Violent Way tops this however as they switch from Doors to Stooges mood and lay down a driving and incessant riff that pummels away without an end in sight. Rooney’s lyrics are minimal, repetitive, mirroring the music and he adds some fine saxophone squeals to the musical mayhem. It’s a great ending to a great album as the Primevals stake their claim to be the best leather clad rock’n’rollers who are big in France while wiping out any home contenders.
Heavy War is available on CD and vinyl from the band’s website and keep an eye out as there are some local gigs coming up.