Curse Of Lono features Felix Bechtolsheimer and Neil Findlay (both from the late roots band Hey Negrita) along with Joe Hazell, Charis Anderson and Dani Ruiz Hernandez. Very much a vehicle for Bechtolsheimer the band were awarded rave reviews for their debut EP late last year and on Severed they expand much of what was on show back then. The album seesaws between glossy and slick rock grooves and a looser rootsy feel. One moment they’re heading down a Doors influenced LA freeway (London Rain), next they’re exhuming Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Earth for the introduction to Just My Head. It does make for a somewhat discombobulating listen at times as if the band haven’t quite decided what direction they should aim for and ultimately, for a band who have named themselves after a Hunter Thompson book, there’s no sense of Thompson’s Gonzo edginess here.
They do start off with a bang on Five Miles with Byrds’ like vocals and growling electric slide guitar over a pulsating bass beat before tribal tom toms introduce more growling guitars on Pick Up The Pieces. It’s an adventurous song, Adam and The Ants seguing into The Doors and packed with hooks as it chops and changes rhythm before a fine guitar solo and Manzarek like keyboards burst out before an abrupt end. Those keyboards feature heavily on the dark rumble of London Rain with Bechtolsheimer narrating in his best voiceover voice like De Niro in Taxi Driver. Send For The Whisky almost bridges the gap between the gloss and the roots as behind the pummelling drums and squirreling guitar there’s some tradition peeking through although the chorus seems somewhat indebted to The Stones’ Dead Flowers.
Each Time You Hurt is a fine and gentle acoustic ramble of the sort that The Lost Brothers do so well and He Takes My Place actually recalls the likes of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils from way back in the seventies, a soft rock version of mountain music. There are shades of The Felice Brothers on Welcome Home which has some wicked slide guitar before the gloom and glimmer of Don’t Look Down with its shimmering guitars and plaintive vocals closes the album.
Ultimately, Curse Of Lono are packed with potential. They have the chops to deliver some scintillating Americana themed rock’n’roll and by all accounts are a thrill to see live. Severed is a fine entrée and hopefully the band can go on to build on their strengths.
Watch ‘Saturday Night‘, a short film based on 4 songs by Curse Of Lono. Directed by Alex Walker. Starring Grant Masters.