Jim Dead Pray For Rain album launch. 13th Note, Glasgow. 4th December 2015

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When Blabber’n’Smoke reviewed Jim Dead‘s new album  Pray For Rain  a few weeks ago we called him a “shamanistic weatherman.” We was only joking, honestly, but of course the album launch took place on one of the filthiest nights of the year, gale force winds blowing horizontal sheets of rain that numbed your cranial nerves. Think his next album should be called “Here Comes The Heatwave.” Anyhoo (as Mr. Dead likes to say) a grand crowd donned appropriate gear and headed to the basement of the 13th Note, attracted perhaps by the prospect of seeing three fine bands and getting a copy of the new disc all for the princely sum of a fiver, one bright spot on such a dreicht nicht.

The bloody weather actually meant your intrepid reviewer missed the opening act, Traquair & the Tranquilizers although verbal reports from the early birds were all positive. We were in time to be stunned (in a nice way) by the sonic ferocity of Dog Moon Howl, Craig Hughes’ power trio, who slammed into a set of bone crushing psychedelic blues wails. Like an early ZZ Top prowling in werewolf mode Hughes’ guitar at times sounded like a jet airplane taking off with Blues Like A Hammer the standout here although their version of Hendrix’s Manic Depression was just about as close you could get these days to seeing the man himself. I didn’t see any ears bleeding but that’s not to say it didn’t happen. A fine example of the visceral power of rock music and recommended if you want your Mojo recharged.

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Last time we saw Jim Dead playing with The Doubters there was a Crazy Horse vibe about them. Tonight it’s a different set of Doubters and the dynamic compass points more towards the primal rock vibe of bands like the MC5 or The 13th Floor Elevators. The songs are relatively short, no lengthy guitar wanderings, instead shards of notes splintering the beat. They opened with the opening song on the album, Wooden Kimono, its chunky rhythm spellbinding, a revamped Redbone ghost dance. Bone Blue Moon, an older song, followed with a radical makeover. Previously an exploration of the guitar’s meandering possibilities (as on Neil Young’s Zuma) tonight it was spikier with the guitars exploding instead of wandering. May The Road Rise was a low riding menace of a song, liquid guitars at times recalling Television’s punk plasticity while Lovesick Blues hammered in with Dead and The Doubters sounding like a more unhinged version of Roky Erickson and his Aliens. Some oldies (a fantastic Jim Langstrom Must Die) and more from the new album proved that Dead has the potential to move from the pool of local talent into open waters.

 

Jim Dead & The Doubters. Pray For Rain

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Been a while since we heard from Jim Dead, Glasgow’s premier purveyor of dry gulch rock. His last missive from the missions was  I’m Not Lost back in 2013 where he and his compadre Craig Hughes plugged in with a crackling intensity. On Pray For Rain Dead has resurrected his occassional backing band The Doubters (on this occasion comprised of Stuart Begley on guitar; Frankie Coia on bass and Tommy Clark on drums ) and with his new posse in tow seems to have been spending some time in a bar with a jukebox populated with early ZZ Top and Creedence discs. It’s a cantankerous listen, scribbled with quarrelling guitars and a heavy bass/drum thud, Dead’s voice wailing like a biblical prophet. While his previous releases have always had a whiff of Morricone inspired dusty vistas here the gloves are off and the band are howling at the moon.

One of the highlights of Dead’s previous full length album, Ten Fires, was the loping death sentence of John Landstrom Must Die and it’s this song that is the template for Pray For Rain. Dead and Begley’s guitars spar throughout be it the on the jagged juggernaut that is the opening song, Wooden Kimono, the sludge ridden blues riff of the title song or the evil slide opening to You Coulda Said, the latter especially invigorating. There’s evidence of Dead’s allegiance to metal with Lovesick Blues sounding like an unholy marriage of Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer as Dead screams, “You don’t love me, I don’t like me too” over an almighty riff. And overall the riff is king here as Dead & The Doubters demolish the melodies on their steamroller ride with May The Road Rise an almighty example.

There are glimpses of Dead’s earlier incarnations. Crows On The Wire is a jaunty country rock romp (although it’s wired to the moon with its zinging guitar lines) and Home returns to his role as a shamanistic weatherman singing, “There’s a wind coming in from the west, woman by my side says she knows best. It’s taken all I have just to find a place where I can stop and have a rest.” It opens up with a resigned air, slowly jangled guitar over a slow beat before an excellent fuzzed guitar solo weighs in. This yin/yan dynamic persists throughout the song with Dead sounding increasingly desperate. The album closes with the slow burn of I’m Not Lost (a song that wasn’t on the EP of the same name) that harks back to the Neil Young like epics of Ten Fires. A seven minute long miasma of thrashing and squalling guitars with a Crazy Horse backbeat it pummels the listener into surrender.

Jim Dead & The Doubters will be playing at the album release show at the 13th Note in Glasgow on Friday 4th December with support from Craig Hughes’ Dog Howl Moon. If Dead can summon up the intensity he’s captured here it should be a fine night.

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Blabber’n’Smoke’s Top Ten for 2013

I succumbed to the idea of a top ten for the first time last year and if nothing else it’s been useful looking back at it over the past few days and comparing it to the list below. Was it a good year for music? I don’t know. Has there ever been a bad year? All I can say is that I’ve enjoyed listening to music this year as much as the last one and the year before that and so on. Many of last year’s list still get regular plays here so at least I liked them and the number one, John Murry’s Graceless Age has had a second wind with its eventual release Stateside. It may seem odd to have an artist with two entries in the list but both albums by Michael Rank & Stag are simply superb examples of what Blabber’n’Smoke would define as Americana; rooted in the country with a frontier outlook and a fierce regard for the common folk. And a happy coincidence to have two works from Howe Gelb mentioned also as he continues to plow his singular field. Both albums have striking images of Gelb threatening to turn him into an Americana icon, part Mt. Rushmore, part Dorothea Lange, for Blabber’n’Smoke, he’s a hero. Anyway, here’s what rocked our boat over the past twelve months.

1. Doc Feldman & the LD50. Sundowning At The Station. This Is American Music

Soiled songs and dusty ballads sounding like a wounded Crazy Horse. A triumph for label of the year, This Is American Music.

And here’s the man himself

2. Michael Rank and Stag. Mermaids. Louds Hymn

Wracked and raw country folk and rock from North Carolina’s Michael Rank. In the space of two years he’s delivered three albums (one a double disc set) that in a fit of hyperbole we said it sounded as if Keef had left the Stones in ’69, joined The Band and recorded with Neil Young frying honeyslides in the kitchen. At the very least it comes close.

3. Israel Nash Gripka. Israel Nash’s Rain Plains. Loose Music

Guitars weave and wander with a ferocity and lyricism that defies description and he repeats this throughout the album and there’s a moment in the title song where the guitars fizz and burn just like the best firework you’ve ever seen.

4. Cam Penner. To Build A Fire. Independent

“Ukuleles, guitars, banjos were strummed. Floors were stomped. Kick drums were kicked. Feet stumbled. Thighs, knees, hands, slapped, clapped. Voices strained and bent. Fingers gripped, grabbed, picked. Arms and hands flung. Skin wrapped tight strained and stretched. Body and sound thrown against wood and metal.”

5. Michael Rank & Stag. In The Weeds. Louds Hymn
No apologies for the second appearance from this tall, stick thin North Carolina rock’n’roll ragamuffin. The sonic slurry he conjures up is nothing less than mesmerising.

6. Sam Baker. Say Grace. Independent

Baker’s wounded heart goes from strength to strength

7. Diana Jones. Museum of Appalachia Recordings. Proper Records.

She’s not well known but whenever we mention her there’s a flurry of activity from folk who recognise Jones’ ability to sound as old as the hills and bang up to date, the thinking man’s Gillian Welch?

8. Birds of Chicago. Birds of Chicago. Independent.

JT Nero makes an honest woman of Allison Russell as they formally pair up for a laid back celebration of harmony singing and some Tupelo honey.

9. Dead Flowers. Midnight at The Wheel Club Hee Haw Records

Dark and deep, vocally and lyrically, a trip through North America and the soul.

Dead Flowers – The Beach from deadflowers on Vimeo.

10. Wynntown Marshals. The Long Haul. Blue Rose.

Local heroes, The Wynntown Marshals survived some turbulent years with band members coming and going. With new crew on board they came up trumps with a bigger, more layered sound and another fine songwriter in the shape of bassist Murdoch McLeod who penned the amazing Tide. Topping off a great year for them the band were snapped up by the very discerning blue Rose label.

Honorable mentions

Howe Gelb. The Coincidentalist
Howe Gelb. Dust Bowl
Mark Collie & his Reckless Companions. Alive At Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.
J. R. Shore. State Theatre.
The Coals A Happy Animal
Benjamin Folke Thomas. Too Close to Here
Slaid Cleaves. Still Fighting The War
Thriftstore Masterpiece presents Lee Hazlewood’s Trouble Is A Lonely Town.
The Quiet American. Wild Bill Jones
Amanda Pearcy. Royal street
Heidi Talbot. Angels Without Wings
Jim Dead I’m Not Lost
Rachel Brooke. A Killer’s dream
Great Peacock E. P.

Danny and The Champions of The World/ Chris Devotion & The Expectations/Jim Dead. Pivo Pivo. Wednesday 20th November.

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Buoyed up on rave reviews for their latest album, Stay True, Danny & the Champions of the World (from here on in, the Champs) blew into Glasgow for an exhilarating display of country, rock and soul all wrapped up in the diminutive figure of Danny George Wilson and his blistering band. A six piece outfit this time around (including pedal steel and sax) the Champs tore through their set in fine style. While they retained the rootsy raucousness that was apparent on their previous release, Hearts & Arrow, stretching out on several numbers especially towards the end, the heart of the matter was contained in the soul sounds they captured on Stay True. Danny has surely been listening to Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey as he captured Morrison’s old Caledonia soul vibe down to a T but throughout the show the band conjured up the spirits of Muscle Shoals and Detroit while Wilson almost preached to the audience in the manner of soul greats such as Solomon Burke and Sam Cooke.

They opened with the autobiographical tale (Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket that kicks off Stay True and immediately the country rock shuffle of the band caressed by the warm pedal steel licks and Danny’s emotive voice showed that we were in for a treat. Cold Cold World followed in a similar vein with the sax more prominent and if anything it upped the ante sounding as it did like an old Brill Building hit with a tremendous chorus. Danny then crossed over into Motown territory for Let’s Grab This with Both Hands, a song that Smokey Robinson would kill for and one which the band nailed with the pedal steel snaking along throughout and the rhythm section solid and tight. All that was missing were the matching suits and choreography. Having introduced the audience to the vibe of the new album the band then grabbed them by the scruff of the neck with a vigorous rendition of the epic Colonel and the King with Paul Lush’s fluid guitar eventually building up into a Crazy Horse type meltfest that was , well, awesome. Darling Won’t You Come In From The Cold allowed a brief respite with its mixture of Blood On The Tracks era Dylan and Morrison’s stoned blissful and bluesy soul before Henry The Van allowed the audience their first opportunity to join in the chorus. By now the audience had closed in, there was dancing for the rest of the set and truth be told this writer was up there losing the ability to capture the rest of the set list although Restless Feet did feature somewhere in there. . It was hot and the band made it hotter before they eventually stumbled off. A great show and one that showcased how fine the new album is as well as how fine an outfit the current Champs are.
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Support for the Champs on the night was provided by two local acts. Jim Dead produced a fine set of his parched cinematic meditations conjuring up a landscape of grim faced existential heroes battling against fate. Renditions of Steady Us, Gold and Silver, Head Full of Booze and the brooding Stealing A Mile were grim and packed full of dread while a new song, Keep Me In Mind bodes well for the future as Dead drew a picture of another outsider who awakes to the sound of birds singing his favourite hymn. Next up were Chris Devotion & The Expectations, billed as an acoustic set but they lied. Devotion, looking somewhat like John Grant in a suit ambled on to deliver Don’t Worry, We Can Still Be Friends all on his ownsome before his guitarist joined him for the next song. Pretty soon bass and drums followed for an exhilarating power pop/rock/country experience as they blasted through a set that reeked of The Lemonheads, The Ramones and the Replacements with some sixties Who thrown in for good measure. Throwing in a fine version of Tonight The Bottle let Me Down and an excellent hokey I Ain’t Got No Home (perhaps to please the country fans although it eventually turned into a fantastic thrash). A whirlwind performance and a band to watch out for.

No Mean City Americana Festival

September 2013, sees the return of the ‘No Mean City’ Festival in Glasgow, a unique celebration of Americana music. Tipping its hat to the City’s close ties and associations with American roots music and heritage with over 20 artists performing across five of Glasgow’s best loved live music venues including; O2 ABC Glasgow and Òran Mór, Broadcast, Nice N Sleazy, and The Art School.
O2 ABC Glasgow. General Manager, Joe Splain says… “As a City, Glasgow has so much to offer, we’re lucky enough to be immersed in such a plethora of unique musical styles and Americana and new country have really pushed through in recent years. 2012 saw us host our second Festival, joining forces with some of Glasgow’s most popular venues and promoters. It really was a fabulous event, featuring the likes of Patti Smith and Grandaddy on our bill. No Mean City is the perfect addition to the eclectic music scene and this year’s programme has even more to offer, from outstanding internationally acclaimed headliners, to raw, upcoming talent”
‘No Mean City 2013’ will take music fans on a journey through the many sub genres of Americana music with performances from fresh talent including Junip (15th September) who have recently been making waves within the genre, all female alt country group The Be Good Tanyas (5th September) and a highly anticipated performance from American Alt -Rockers Eels (3rd September). ‘No Mean City 2013’ also sees the welcome return of Caitlin Rose (9th September) who played the very first ‘No Mean City’ festival back in 2011 and the month long celebration will come to a combustible end with American Country music legend and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Kris Kristofferson (28th September) as he delights fans with a very special UK performance.
The official launch for ‘No Mean City 2013’ will take place at ‘For The Sake Of The Song’ on Friday 31st August, a one-day event at O2 ABC and O2 ABC2 Glasgow and Broadcast.

Friday 31st August: O2 ABC, O2 ABC2 Glasgow and Broadcast
“For The Sake Of The Song” – a one-day event launching ‘No Mean City 2013’

Sunday 1st September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Kat Men + Lou Hickey

Monday 2nd September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Strand Of Oaks + Daniel Norgren

Monday 2nd September: Broadcast
Dawes

Tuesday 3rd September: O2 ABC Glasgow
Eels

Tuesday 3rd September: Broadcast
Daughn Gibson

Wednesday 4th September: Nice N Sleazy
The Barr Brothers

Wednesday 4th September: Oran Mor
The Milk Carton Kids

Thursday 5th September: O2 ABC Glasgow
The Be Good Tanyas

Thursday 5th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
King King

Monday 9th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Caitlin Rose

Thursday 12th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Heartless Bastards

Sunday 15th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Junip

Monday 16th September: Oran Mor
Jim White

Tuesday 17th September: Broadcast
Joe Pug

Thursday 19th September: Broadcast
Laetitia Sadier
Friday 20th September: Oran Mor
Johnny Reid

Sunday 22nd September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Raintown + Ash Before Oaks

Wednesday 25th September: The Art School
Stephen Kellogg

Friday 27th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Ethan Johns / Zervas & Pepper

Saturday 28th September: O2 ABC Glasgow
Kris Kristofferson

For full listings and details visit http://www.nomeancity.co.uk

Jim Dead Live

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Local purveyor of “gulch” rock (dryer than that desert variety) Jim Dead had a rare outing on Friday night at The state Bar. Accompanied by his head honcho, Craig Hughes on growling electric guitar he transformed this Glasgow cellar into a flyblown pueblo for an all too short set. With a song list fairly evenly balanced between the Ten Fires album and his recent I’m Not Lost E.P. Dead sang with a gravid authority while Hughes provided all manner of sonic embellishment ranging from spooky bottleneck to scattershot bursts of noise.
The songs from Ten Fires stood well on their own two feet without the rhythm section present with Hughes pulling out all of the stops particularly on the epic Untitled while Coffee and Cocaine was chilling in its intensity. From the I’m Not Lost E.P. (which Dead recorded with Hughes) Stealing A Mile was the standout, a perfect example of their musical simpatico as it swept over the audience like a dire wind, a dustbowl of despair amplified by Hughes’s menacing guitar rumblings. Although the gig was plagued by some chatterboxes at the bar this song seemed to silence all.
Dead has another gig in Glasgow at Pivo Pivo on 21st May and on the strength of this he really should be seen. His discs are all available here

Dead and Hughes were bookended by two other acts, Ryan Morecambe who has a neat early Dylan vibe about him and Firebugs, an Edinburgh based trio who have an attractive bluesy folk sound and when mandolin was employed even reminded us a little bit of Lindisfarne.

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The evening was hosted by The Vagabond Social Clubwho have regular nights at The State Bar and if they are all as good as this then We’d recommend keeping an eye out for future events.

Jim Dead. I’m Not Lost.

“There’s a thunder looming” goes the weather forecast for Deadsville , that mythical hinterland where Jim Dead and occasional compadre Craig Hughes hunker down and sustain themselves with helpings of tinder dry musical epistles that smell of brimstone and dread. Expertly mapped out on Ten Fires, Dead’s last album, he returns to Deadsville in I’m Not Lost with Hughes riding shotgun having ditched the rhythm section somewhere back along the trail.

Dead and Hughes have indeed hunkered down in Glasgow’s Ohm studios and transformed the damp bleak Scottish winter into their sun scorched and parched mythical landscape. A six-song expedition this is leaner than and not as mean as Ten Fires. No one gets lynched but the outlook remains as bleak as bleached bones as Dead sings and almost moans in ominous fashion. Steady Us opens the disc with Hughes in a Morricone mood, his guitar cracking the sky open and then rumbling along with menace as Dead delivers some nihilistic words. Nine Years continues in this vein with Dead coming across like a voice from the grave, a sense that is accentuated by the whelps that close the song. Gold + Silver finds Dead solo, hesitant and fractured but Hughes returns with his switchblade guitar on the snappy suicide note of Giving Up The Ghost. Stealing A Mile is the standout track here, slow, brooding, filled with menace and foreboding. With Hughes’ guitar creating a sonic sandstorm over Dead’s acoustic drone Dead foretells of the storm a coming and proclaims “I’ve not cared much for sunny days or bright afternoons in the haze. Give me clouds and give me rain.” As on most of the songs the lyrics are opaque allowing the listener to imagine a scene while the music is almost cinematic.Dead states on his website that he’s been listening to Calexico and and it’s most apparent here. The closing song Head Full Of Booze however comes across almost as a traditional number lamenting the demon drink and the havoc it wreaks. With Hughes’ guitar more lyrical and almost pedal steel sweet it could have been Hank William’s last song.

Overall I’m Not Lost is another reason to reckon that Dead is our number one homegrown American artist. A download only release it’s merely a precursor to the full follow up to Ten Fires and at around £4 it’s a steal. You can get it here

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Craig Hughes. Hard Times Volume 1

Writing on the (assured) presumption that all those who frequent Blabber’n’Smokeland have a copy of Jim Dead’s tremendous Ten Fires to hand we direct you to the fiery guitar therein, much of it provided by local blues colossus, Craig Hughes. Much like his fellow blues traveller, Dave Arcari, (a guy who looks like he’s possessed by the devil while delivering his blues damnations), Hughes puts his all into a performance commanding the stage, growling for all he’s worth while turning out some awesome picking be it electric or acoustic. Fortunately he’s a dab hand at conjuring up this magic in the studio as well as he has demonstrated on the Jim Dead album, his recent forays as part of the uber heavy Dog Howl Moon or solo as on this, his latest EP.
His debut album, Pissed Off, Bitter and Willing to Share was considered by a Canadian publication to be the best UK blues album of 2009 while his shared platter with yet another local bluesman, Sleepy Eyes Nelson won plaudits galore. Now he unleashes Hard Times, Volume 1, a six song EP that runs the gamut from acoustic blues to rockabilly mayhem.
Promises, Promises sees Hughes running down the blues as he slides away on acoustic and growls his resolutions to give up drinking, fighting and lovin’. Straightforward and excellent and a fine opener. He Loved Her and Sent Her To Hell stomps along with drum assistance from Ally Tennick as Hughes delivers a cautionary tale that wouldn’t go amiss on a Nick Cave album. Hard Times Every Day is less pugnacious although as a diatribe against the recession it follows in the grand tradition of songs like Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime as Hughes captures a sense of futility and failure singing “It’s hard to keep your chin up when you’re face down in the dirt.” Tapes For My Walkman lightens the mood on a banjo driven send up of a guy sticking to obsolete technology (apart from the needle for his stereo, still a must folks). The slide guitar returns for Left To Crawl as Hughes displays his songwriting and playing skills to great effect as he whizzes around the fretboard with a fair degree of wizardry while his words capture a poignant memory of a relationship that foundered and as the woman goes on to have a family the protagonist draws into himself. This is a great song and it recalls the likes of Richard Thompson’s early solo work. For the finale Hughes puffs up his chest and goes into Cramps mode with Cave Full Of Woman Bones. Fuzz guitar fuzzes and drums stomp on this caveman rocker that good old Lux would have loved.
So, six songs, all crackers. Hughes acknowledges the modern world and as such he’s offered the disc for download on a pay what you will basis on his Bandcamp site. However if you care to have a real life artefact in your mitts then it’s yours for the measly sum of £4, the price of a pint almost. Whatever way you get it I’m sure you’ll dig it.

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Jim Dead. Ten Fires

What is Americana? The simple answer might be that it’s music (or literature, art) that refers to America, in particular to that continent’s (primarily the US of A) heritage. So a broad church with country, bluegrass, jazz, swing and god knows how many others getting a shout in. But are, for example, Kings of Leon Americana? U2? Jack Johnston? The answer of course is yes and no. Or rather, it depends. It depends on the singer, the song, the listener, the situation and for an awful lot of folk in the end it doesn’t matter. And perhaps therein is the rub. For if it does matter to you then you probably know the answer already.
Americana is a feel, an intuition, a knowledge of and respect for, well, Americana. It has depth, history, tradition. Tradition that harks back to the great immigrations that peopled the USA, that recalls the natives who were displaced by the newcomers, the poverty and violence experienced by the Negro slaves, the violence of the civil war, the culture that grew out of all of these. The tradition continued in modern times, the civil rights struggles, the protest songs, the discovery of their own culture by the late sixties generation which fed into the No Depression generation of the eighties which in itself reached back into the distant past also.
It’s easy for anyone anywhere in the world to be captivated by Hollywood cowboys, Lonnie Donegan records or books by Cormac McCarthy. Dig deeper and chances are you’ll find Americana, a fabulous land with a fabulous story. And best of all you don’t have to be American.
Jim Dead is a man who I reckon has done his fair share of digging. So much so that he inhabits a mythical Americana hometown, Deadsville. Deadsville is a mixture of all of the above however Dead has sculpted it into shape. A dust blown dread place with frontier justice, where gunslingers are replaced by guitar slingers, where the blues are amplified and dragged from the past and shot into Technicolor glory.
Calling up a new version of his band The Doubters consisting of Craig Hughes on guitar, James Duffin on bass and Tommy Duffin on percussion and harmonica, Dead offers up twelve songs that portray Deadsville as a scary place to be. Telling stories of lynchings, drugs and death the band walk throughout the landscape with a powerful swagger. Several of the songs here reach epic proportions both in length and delivery. The combination of Dead’s and Hughes’ guitars conjure up visions of Crazy Horse and the Drive By Truckers. While there are quieter moments such as the opening song Silence has No Place Here, Hotel, (with a touch of Willie Vlautin about it) and My Heavy Heart, My Aching Bones, there remains a sense of doom, of hopelessness in them. However the big hitters here are when the band plug in. The loping Bone Blue Moon has the feel of hank Williams backed by Creedence Clearwater, the song does indeed feel as if Dead is howling at the moon. Untitled has some spooky, almost psychedelic tinges, when Dead repeats the refrain Baby, Baby there is a sense of what could have been if Led Zeppelin were an American band. Hughes’ playing on this epic is spectacular, full of menace, coiled, ready to kill. Mean–Eyed River Snake is a mean tale of the death of a girl as retold by a confused, possibly pilled up youth who may have seen too many drive in horrors. It ends in a confusion of babbling while Hughes’ guitar rumbles in the background. The Hallelujah Revolver perhaps tries too hard here to achieve a proper dynamic, a gospel song from hell it’s the one song where the feel is muddied, Having seen a gobsmackingly good live version done by this line up of the band it’s possible we were spoiled beforehand. Honours must go to the stand out song here however. Jim Landstrom Must Die is a killer track. A deceptively jaunty riff leads into a sorry tale of a jive travelling salesman who gets lynched after selling bottles with “stars that fell from from the sky.” Peckinpaw in parts, “ hang him up by his legs, slit his throat so the streets turn ruby red” the band really gel with some tremendous bass playing and a cracking vocal performance from Dead.
If this album was by a crew from the south west of the USA chances are it would be hailed to the heavens. As it is it’s perhaps the best example I’ve heard so far of a local band setting up residence in that fabled Americana. Definitely one to buy.
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Jim Landstrom Must Die

Jim Dead and The Doubters album launch, 13th Note, June 2nd.

Jim Dead comes from Deadsville. An imagined place, more in the mind than on the map. Occasional visitors to this shadowland include Jim White, Hank Williams, Jason Molina, The Drive By Truckers and even Neil Young. Here the music is slow and thick, churning like the Mississippi, rich and full bodied. Jim Dead has captured this on his latest release; Ten Fires and tonight unveiled it in a hot cellar to an appreciative Glasgow crowd. This was possibly a unique event as the Doubters consist of the musicians who recorded the album with Dead but in their non Deadsville lives they all have other gigs. Reconvened for the album launch it would be a pity if they fade away as they conjured up a blissful, noisy wall of sound. Consisting of Dead on guitar and vocals, Craig Hughes on guitar and the Duffin brothers, James and Tommy on bass and drums they punched their way through several songs from the album. The twin guitars cranked up an almighty mess of sound with Craig Hughes sparking off of Dead’s solid rhythm on a sound that was reminiscent of Crazy Horse or Magnolia Electric Co. Wading through lengthy renditions of Jim Langstrom Must Die, Bone Blue Moon and Mean eyed River Snake there were several spine tingling moments wrung from Hughes’ Gibson but Dead’s knack for a well written song with strong hooks meant that this never descended into jamdom. The band ended the set with epic renditions of Untitled and The Hallelujah Revolver. Untitled started off with an Iberian Miles Davis feel before a psychedelic tinge crept in with Hughes playing arabesque lines but the closing song trumped all before it with the Duffin bothers in particular adding an almighty edge to a powerful and inspired performance. Dead hollered as if his life depended on it. A great end to the show.
Mention must be made of the support acts. Glasgow duo The Colts delivered a fine set of acoustic country tinged songs with a Ryan Adams/Keef Richards flavour while Craig Hughes showed us his day job playing powerful bottleneck acoustic blues. A bear of a man he can be ferocious on the guitar but his bottleneck style and use of sustain reminded one of Zoot Horn Rollo’s instructions from the good Captain. His song The TR7’s Have All Gone to Heaven was a particular crowd pleaser