Friday, January 29, 2010

Wild Sound

Hey, hey, my my. We're back to Deep Blues Friday, so let's not fuck around and get right to it.

Today we've got a mighty rumble from up the Great White North Way. The Speaking Tongues are a danger to your turntable and your speakers. They're probably a danger to your daughters too.

A mighty ruckus then, of gin-soaked blues, sweaty and swaggering, burned-out boogie, grinding and ass-swivelin' rhythm. Mighty like a mountain, born in the soil. It's big, man.

The Speaking Tongues were swell enough to answer a few questions for us. Enjoy!

The BRCM Interview With The Speaking Tongues

Big Rock Candy Mountain:
Who are The Speaking Tongues? Where did you come from, and how did you come to be?

The Speaking Tongues: Aaron and Pete from Toronto. We’re pretty sure a series of terrible mistakes brought us together.

BRCM: What is the significance of your name? Have you ever spoken in tongues? Have you ever handled a snake whilst "in the spirit"?

ST: The name is all about how we play. Turning it up and just letting it roll. Give in to the boogie!

BRCM: What is your muse? Where does your mighty rumble come from?

ST: We get inspired by all sorts of music, from pre-war blues, to the revival era in the 60s, to modern stuff. Mostly, digging through record crates and researching through the history of rock and roll. It’s also just trying to be connected to something that a lot of people seem to thing is gone. The spirit of rock and roll, I guess you’d call it.

BRCM: Shaken or stirred?

ST: My preference is for the shake.

BRCM: Like many of the bands we've been covering associated the Deep Blues movement (whatever that is), you're a duo. What is your take on that phenomenon? Do you find yourselves freed or limited by the set-up? What is your writing process?

ST: We started out just writing songs together because we didn’t know anyone else who liked the same stuff as us. So when the ball started rolling on the band thing it was just the two of us. It’s the only way we know how to write and play really. People ask us if they can play bass with us all the time, but adding another person just seems so wrong. Plus we make enough noise as it is.

As for writing it’s different every time. Sometimes Aaron will have a riff and some lyrics. Sometimes we’ll go off on a 20 minute jam and find a tiny piece to build a song from. We record everything we jam on and we have a giant stockpile of unfinished stuff, so sometimes we go back and find stuff in there to try again but we’re pretty picky. We try to keep to pretty loose and try not to think too hard or work too hard on something.... Cause if were working too hard, it’s usually not working.

As popular as duos are becoming they are still the minority. And they all get compared to each other to because it isn't the way a rock band is traditionally done. As more duos start to pop up I don’t think it will be such a big deal.

BRCM: Have you ever been to the crossroads, and, if so, who did you meet there?

ST: Physically, no. Metaphorically, yes.

BRCM: You're based out of Toronto, Canada, a bit of a journey from the Mississippi Delta and Hill Country, but your brand of punk/Blues boogie seems to draw very directly from the sounds emanating from that area. Do you subscribe to the notion that the Blues is universal, or is it a learned thing?

ST: We both grew up in pretty rural areas, so that might have something to do with it. But locations and eras don’t seem to be as definitive as they used to be in music. Different styles are coming out of every part of the world because there’s little to no cultural isolation anymore. As always there are amazing garage and blues bands from all over Europe as well, just like the Blues explosion in Britain in the 60s.
So yes, Blues is definitely universal.

BRCM: How does Toronto respond to your brand of Blues? Are there fellow compatriots we should be on the lookout for?

ST: In Toronto we play with a lot of different types of bands from roots to punk to indie. But just like anywhere else, people respond good rock and roll. There’s an amazing bar here called ‘The Dakota Tavern’ which is basically a basement all decked out like a barn. The management is really selective and focuses on booking blues, country and roots bands. The place is packed to capacity almost every night with all sorts of people, especially people that you wouldn’t pin down as country or blues fans.

So, again this kind of music just strikes a chord with people no matter where they’re from or what they’re into.

Definitely look up The Schomberg Fair and The Skirt Chasers, who also played Deep Blues last year. Also check out our bros Catl.

BRCM: Tell us about your best and worst shows.

ST: Best show: Playing an outdoor diabetes fundraiser hosted by bikers. It was for a good cause and bad ass. Plus bikers have insane stories to tell.

Worst show: We once got roped into playing an office Christmas party. It was just as bad as it sounds. Also, someone brought a baby, so that baby is probably deaf now.

BRCM: Raw or Cooked?

ST: Cooked. It’s cold in Canada.

BRCM: How did you come to be involved in the Deep Blues Festival? What were your experiences at the Fest?

ST: We heard about the festival in late 2007 by way of Rick Saunders blog, and when we saw the line up it was just too insane to miss.

We’re big fans of anything coming out of Alive Records, Fat Possum and Voodoo Rhythm, and the chances of seeing those acts in our neck of the woods are pretty rare... Not to mention seeing them all at once. So we made the 16 hour drive down to Lake Elmo in 2008 with some friends and we couldn’t believe it.

Playing the festival this year was completely surreal. And because of the festival and Chris Johnson we’ve played shows with John Schooley and The Black Diamond Heavies here in Toronto. Something that seemed ridiculous just over a year ago. There really is no better gathering of music and people in the world.

BRCM: What's next for the band? New record? Tour? Anything for us music-starved folks south of you?

ST: As you posted previously, we put out a split 45rpm with The Rue Moor Counts (another incredible band we met thanks to DBF) and we’re gonna follow that up with a new full length that we’re with Robbie Buxton of the Rue Moor Counts in the spring. After that, hittin’ the road.

BRCM: Thanks fellers.

The following tune comes from their split 7" with The Rue Moor Counts, which can be purchased, along with their album, Wild Sound, here. The video is a performance of a currently unreleased jukejoint stomper. More performances and tunes of the band and can be found at their MySpace page.

The Speaking Tongues: Looking In Your Window (mp3)

Please support your fave rave independent music festivals.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Loose Talk

We're tired of eulogies. 'Spose it's rather inevitable, at this point. I'm not sure what we'll do with ourselves if we ever had to write up a notice on the passing of Tom or Shane. If we're lucky, we'll go first.


This is almost two weeks late, but we couldn't let the death of Carl Smith go without notice at this here spot.

His bio can be found at the link above, and it's well worth checking out. A couple things of note: "his hardest country was made tougher by the addition of a drum kit. Smith was one of the very first country artists to regularly perform with a drummer, and though it earned him criticism at the time, the hard-driving sound of those up-tempo numbers proved to be influential." And, he was married to June Carter (pre-Johnny) and was father to Carlene Carter.

Smith was the kind of Country we're constantly bemoaning the lack of these days. He could be tender and tough, a balladeer and a Western swingster, a Honkey Tonker with a river of tears in his shot glass, boot-scootin' and moon-moanin'. His 50's work is the most significant, when he racked up more than 30 Top Ten hits, notably "Hey Joe!", "Loose Talk", and "Kisses Don't Lie". While his popularity waned in the subsequent decades, we think his work in the 70's for Hickory were pretty swell, as he adjusted his style (and subject matter) just enough for the decade, but never sacrificed his honky tonk heart.

The Country and Western is littered with bejeweled stars, and Carl Smith occupied a corner of that constellation. It's a corner we're happy to rest in here at the Mountain.

Check out some swell Carl Smith tunes, then, and raise a toast to a life lived and songs sung.

Carl Smith: Loose Talk (mp3)

Carl Smith: Drinking Champagne (mp3)

Carl Smith: This Kind of Love Aint Meant For Sunday School (mp3)

Carl Smith: There's A Bottle Where She Used To Be (mp3)

Please support your local, independent Honky Tonkers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fancy Dan

Hey, folks. Today we've got a swell new band to bend your ears around, and a short interview to whet your appetite.

The Fancy Dan Band are based out of San Francisco. Led by, well, Fancy Dan himself, the band makes the kind of loose-limbed dancefloor-style Country'n'Swing'n'Blues'n'Rock that's sorely needed in this day and age.

We got the opportunity to ask Dan a few questions about his music and vision. We'll let his own words speak for themselves.

A Big Rock Candy Mountain Interview With Fancy Dan

Big Rock Candy Mountain: Who are you? What's The Fancy Dan Band all about? Who's in the band?

Fancy Dan: I was born Dan Nordheim and decided that that wasn’t quite fancy enough for my tastes. After spending my whole life in the Midwest, I headed to California and started performing in San Francisco as a solo act. Eventually I met the right guys who joined me to become The Fancy Dan Band. The band includes Michael Loebs on lead guitar, Mark Underwood on bass, and Joe Gusich on drums.

BRCM: Are you a Country band, a Western Swing band, or a Country and Western band? Or are you something completely different?

FD: I consider us a rock & roll band more than anything, but there are definitely elements of country and western swing in there. There’s also some blues, gospel and soul somewhere in there too so I like to think of us as a band influenced by American music in many forms.

BRCM:Hank, Lefty, Merle, or Jimmie? Someone else?

FD: I’m definitely a Hank man myself since he was probably the first country singer I ever got into. When I first learned guitar as a teenager, my grandpa would always beg me to play Hank songs with him while he played piano. At that time I would have rather been playing Guns N’ Roses songs, but now I’m so grateful that my grandpa was persistent in teaching me those old songs. He also taught me Elvis and Johnny Cash songs too and it took me a few years until I really started appreciating all that wonderful music from that time.

BRCM: Is Country dead? Have the "majors" killed Country, or is it alive somewhere outside of Nashville?

FD: I think there will always be a place for country music whether it’s the slick major label stuff or the more underground raw stuff. It’s like any kind of music where sometimes it becomes watered-down and clichéd, but then it bounces back and starts taking chances and feeling vital again. I think the internet is great for country music since that means people can easily create music outside of the Nashville system and without being on a major label and still potentially find an audience. The problem is that there’s so much music to sort through these days, but I think people are always hungry for great music and will seek it out.

BRCM: You've got a good amount of religious references in your music and bio. And you grew up as the son of preacher. Does spirituality play a part in the band, on a day by day basis, or is it a means of musical expression, divorced from personal experience?

FD: I feel like I can’t escape the spirituality of music no matter how hard I try. I don’t consider us a religious band or anything, but spirituality is so engrained in me that it’s always going to come up in my songwriting. Since I grew up hearing so much music in church, I think I’m always looking for that gospel feeling even in secular songs. That’s how you know a song is working when you get that rush of joy that feels bigger than yourself. So the spirituality aspect of my music is personal to me, but I’m always hoping to get to the point where it becomes universal.

BRCM: You're based out of California. How does California fit within the Country template, what with all the "regional" line-drawing going on these days. Do you find audiences receptive? Have you been to Bakersfield?

FD: I’ve found most audiences in California to be very receptive to what we’re doing so far. In San Francisco there are not many bands that sound like us so that’s hopefully to our benefit. We haven’t played Bakersfield yet, but would love to get down there sometime soon. I’m curious to see how we’d go over with more of a country audience since we’re used to mostly playing for people our age who don’t necessarily listen to much country. We got to record in Nashville, but didn’t have the chance to play any shows around there so that’s something we’d love to try as well.

BRCM: What should one expect from a Fancy Dan live show? What dance steps should we practice before attending?

FD: There will be dancing at a Fancy Dan Band show, but no need to practice any steps beforehand! That’s pretty much our goal every time is to loosen the audience up enough to dance or clap or sing-a-long. If people aren’t participating in some way that means we’re not doing our job.

BRCM: How "fancy" are you? Do clothes make the man?

Being fancy doesn’t always come easy so I think I’ll be working at it for a long time. It’s more of a state of mind than a particular style. Sometimes if I’m thinking too hard, I’ll say to myself, “keep it fancy,” or something like that to remember to let go. The other day I found myself saying that when I was bowling and trying way too hard. So being fancy applies to all areas of life!

BRCM: Sad songs. Do they really mean so much?

FD: There’s that Otis Redding song that goes, “I keep singing them sad sad songs cause sad songs is all I know.” That just kills me every time I hear it. I like extremes in music so when I hear a sad song I want it to be unbearably painful just like I want a happy song to be incredibly joyful and uplifting. That’s why I love country music so much since the sad songs just tear you to pieces. Life feels like that sometimes so sad songs need to capture that intense feeling.

BRCM: What's next for The Fancy Dan Band? Tour? Record?

FD: We did our first tour a few months ago and really enjoyed playing to new audiences so touring will definitely be a priority over the next year. We also just finished recording our second album in December. Instead of going all the way to Nashville like we did for our first record, Born Fancy, we got to record in our own neighborhood in San Francisco at Tiny Telephone, which made for a much more relaxed session. Born Fancy was in my mind for three years so when it finally came out several months ago, I felt like I was already ready for the next thing. This new one came together very quickly and has the band going in a little bit different direction so I’m curious to see how people will respond to it.

The Fancy Dan Band: By The Shore (mp3)

The Fancy Dan Band: So Long (mp3)

Please support your local, independent Honky Tonks and Barn Dances.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Route Sixty Six Pack

We're back. Took a little break, but let's dive into it, shall we?

We realize we're expected to say something about Jay Reatard at this point. But, well, tons of others have weighed in around the blogo-world (or whatever it's being called nowadays), and we weren't that careful of followers in his career, preferring other, similar (yet different!) artists. Not a knock on Reatard, we think his records are keen, but we really don't have the connection to him that would allow us to wax poetic, or whatnot. Tell you what, we'll include a tune of his at the end of this post. Farewell, Jay, and godspeed.

Gonna have a busy posting week this week, so let's kick off the fun with another in our Six Pack series: Six tunes pulled (mostly) randomly from our vault of vinyl records (which we're sloooooowly digitizing.

So, what tasty treats do we have today? How about...

Some stompin' hallelujah from Rev. Louis Overstreet (on Mississippi Records!). A little be-bop beat jazz poetry from Slim Gaillard (off the LP Beat Jazz: Pictures From A Gone World). Next we've got some snotty-ass garage trash courtesy of a collaboration featuring a feller we talk a lot about here (you'll easily guess) under the name The Black Jaspers.

Add some deep funk soul from Marie Queenie Lyons (from the Soul Fever LP), a little hillbilly junk scum from The Scat Rag Boosters, and wrap things up with Jay Reatard. Pretty nifty stack o'wax, huh?

All songs taken from vinyl. All songs 100% grade A Big Rock Candy Mountain approved!

Rev. Louis Overstreet: Get Ready, I'm Gonna Move (mp3)

Slim Gaillard: Travelin' Blues (mp3)

Black Jaspers: Born In '77 (mp3)

Marie Queenie Lyons: Your Thing Aint No Good Without My Thing (mp3)

Scat Rag Boosters: Lonesome Moon (mp3)

Jay Reatard: See/Saw (mp3)

As ever, please support your local, independent record stores, where available.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Drifting Along With The Tumbling Tumbleweeds

Well, we almost made it under the year's end radar. Today we've got the final round of our Top Albums of 2009. We're ecstatic to present our Top 10. Hope y'all enjoy.

As ever, there's a ton of great records that didn't make the cut, or we just haven't heard, so let us know what we missed.

Coming up after the New Year we've got our Favorite Re-Issues, a note about some significant deaths, a Chris Knox tribute (who's very much alive, thankfully), A Bassholes retrospective, some more Deep Blues Friday interviews in the can, and a whole bunch more, including a whole pile of Country stuff (remember that?). Oh, and a big announcement and a complete re-design. Busy little beavers, aint we?

And for those looking for a random Best of the Decade list, we're really not going to do it. But we'll give you the following, without comment:

Band Of The Decade: Yo La Tengo

"Solo" Artist Of The Decade (and a half): Richard Buckner

Record Of The Decade: Will Oldham and Rian Murphy: All Most Heaven E.P.

Make of that what you will.

As ever, most of these songs in our Top Albums of 2009 were pulled from vinyl, when possible. That's just the way it is.

Enjoy, argue, rant, etc.

The BRCM Top Albums Of 2009, Part 4


Strange Boys: ...And Girls Club

Imagine if Bobby Dylan were a Scotchguard-huffing laddie lad. Bunch of damn kids get off my lawn nonsense, snotty and over-sexed joyride. Forget your Spin-approved teen angst emo bullshit, this record is for the boozed up punk-ass bitch in all of us. Togas and sailing caps optional. Damn, we love this record. Over and over again.

Strange Boys: This Girl Taught Me A Dance (mp3)


Almighty Defenders: Almighty Defenders

King Khan And BBQ Show: Invisible Girl

Mark Sultan: Hold On 7"

Mark Sultan: I Am The End 7"

That we're madly in love with King Khan is a well-documented fact 'round these parts. So it's pretty fuckin' great when we get a year in which his partner in crime, Mark Sultan (aka BBQ) manages to outshine the King. Not that Khan's a slacker, as he manages to kick his brand of garage/funk/sleaze into the stratosphere on the gospel-inspired trash-fest that is the Almighty Defenders LP (with Mark Sultan and members of the Black Lips) and on the doo-wop, bubblegum sexploitation masterpiece Invisible Girl (again, with Mark Sultan as BBQ). But it's Sultan who steals the show on these records, his fuzz'n'scuzz approach leading the proceedings.

But then, Sultan releases a couple of essential 7"'s that showcase his versatility as a solo artist, cracked love songs as garbage genius, soul melody in a blender.

Oh, and here's what we wrote about the Almighty Defenders LP a couple of months ago: "...The album was recorded in a rumored booze-fueled few days, while the 'Lips were in exile at King Khan's house in Germany (while hiding from Indian authorities due to bad behaviour). Whether the details are true, or the stuff of myth'n'legend, doesn't matter much, since the record is a swirling mess of deep soul handclaps, hootenanny stomp, gristle-encrusted guitar sleaze, praise-god-hallelujah-let's fuck hollerin' goodness. It sounds like there's a party going on in god's pants, and the boys are the band at the end of the world."

The Almighty Defenders: All My Loving (mp3)

The King Khan and BBQ Show: Invisible Girl (mp3)

Mark Sultan: I Hear A New World (mp3)

Mark Sultan: I Am The End (mp3)


South Filthy: Undertakin' Daddy

South Filthy. Featuring Walter Daniels, Msr. Jeffrey Evans, Jack Oblivian, John Schooley, Earl Poole Ball, Ralph White, and a host of others. What else do you need to know?

Well, this record is the kind of rural countrybluesrawk goodness that pretty much defines the entire aesthetic we've forged here at Big Rock Candy Mountain. If we had a house band, it'd be South Filthy.

Still not enough? Daniels and Evans are in particularly fine form here, their down from the mountain brand of hillbilly blues careening wild manly around some classic covers and originals, bred by backroads and shotgun shacks long abandoned and rife with wilderness mash and moonshine still. Honestly, it's the very stuff that jukejoint dreams are made of.

South Filthy: Goin' Down South (mp3)


Phosphorescent: To Willie

Again, we really can't add anything to what we wrote earlier: "...Many have covered Nelson's songs over the years (he did start out as a songwriter, after all), but few have transformed those songs quite the way Phosphorescent does. The tunes allow Houck (Matthew Houck, Phosphorescent main man) to fully explore the Country'n'Western star long bubbling as underpinnings to his previous records, but still retain his unique persona. The fiddles and banjos and pedal steel guitars and the tightly structured three and half minute verse/chorus/verse nature of Nelson's writing push Phosphorescent to into a new territory, where he thrives.

Of course, there's always song selection, and the choices Houck makes seem tailor-fit. "Reasons To Quit", "Pick Up The Tempo", "I Gotta Get Drunk", and "The Party's Over" could have been written specifically for Phosphorescent, ruminations and late-nite regret.

It's hard to call a "covers" record a masterpiece, but this is no "covers" record. Phosphorescent makes these songs his own, forging the "olden times" with the new, the past with the future. It's a stunning transformation, both of Houck's own style and template, and Nelson's eternal grace and observation. What "To Willie" really does is miraculous. It makes you forget, for a time, the originals and becomes a new-created thing, posterity be damned."

Phosphorescent: I Gotta Get Drunk (mp3)

Phosphorescent: The Party's Over (mp3)


Willem Maker: New Moon Hand

The loneliest of sounds, a man with a guitar, bared and barren across a desert shined under distant glow of oasis or dream, the sands ever shifting and carrying a traveler beyond his fears and into a deeper well. Maker (aptly named) makes a noisome blues, chords of repetition ripping god from the heavens, mesmerized and hypnotic, then firing shots of buckshot sonic age into the sky. Maker's voice a whiskey honed thing of dusty beauty, every word and utterance a tale, lived and loved and lost, from howl to murmer.

Willem Maker: Stars Fell On (mp3)


Left Lane Cruiser: All You Can Eat

Quoting myself again "...Left Lane Cruiser kicks up a howling fuzz of dirt road holler, a hard-scrabble blues-punk blast created by messrs. Freddy J IV (Guitar, Vocals) and Brenn "Sausage Paw" Beck (Drums, Trash, Hollerin'), straight outta Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Somethin' aint right with these boys, and that's good. Mmmm mmmm good.

Somewhere there's a world where Left Lane Cruiser is blasting out of every '72 Chevy Nova and broke-ass VW van, the road a bleared smudge in the rear view mirror. Drums that burn down bridges full of oil and fire, a guitar fucked into submission with god shining his face across six strings of hillstomptrash skull-fuckery. Above it all a voice all cracker-ass kick and wail..."feed me, baby, and I'm yours".

It's filthy Delta swamp debris,washed ashore and hitchhiking it's way to the heart of last night's ramble."

Left Lane Cruiser: Ol' Fashioned (mp3)


James Hand: Shadow On The Ground

James Hand had our Album of the Year back in 2006. This album's almost as good. Hand is perhaps one of the last of a dying breed of great Honky Tonk singers and musicians. Hand plays a continually rarefied form of hard Country, one passed through mountain water and Texas dust, a twangy and hiccupping yodel traveling the darker roads where lonesome has lost the ability to cry. Hand can sound as old as the hills, filtering a strain of deep Southern Gothic, but the songs he writes are timeless, both in subject and the ability speak across years.

This record, like his previous one, is a pinnacle of all that is good about Country. No one else these days comes close. Really.

James Hand: Midnight Run (mp3)


Bob Log III: My Shit Is Perfect

Well, it's Bob Log, innit? Whether you're a fan of Doo Rag, Bob solo, or both, you sorta know what to expect.

A man in a jumper and some sort of space/motorcycle helmet, with a kick drum and six-string slider in tow. One man band? No. A one man sleaze blues shit kicker and ass pounder? You be your sweet patootie.

Bob Log doesn't come to bring you peace and love. He comes (and comes again...) to shake your boogie, party in your pants, fuck your shit up, and drink your boob scotch. If your soul was raised on back road stretches of shanty shacks and corn liquor stills, 50-cent strip clubs and 25-cent peep shows, hot-buttered possum carcass and outhouse moons, then Bob's yr creepy uncle.

Bob Log III: Goddamn Sounds Good (mp3)

Bob Log III: My Shit Is Perfect (mp3)


Bassholes: ...And Without A Name

Some other, lesser, band has stolen the phrase "blues explosion" for itself. The Bassholes sound absolutely nothing like that band. Not a bit. But that phrase probably fits the band better than the current owner. It should be noted that The Bassholes have been doing what they do since 1992, and singer/guitarist Don Howland was also a member of The Gibson Brothers (with South Filthy's Jeffrey Evans) for many years before that, going back to 1986. Just sayin'. We're working on a longer Bassholes retrospective later this month, so we'll leave the history lesson alone for now.

This record is loud. Fucking loud. And full of guttural howling and nasty, filthy guitar destruction. It's sheets of primal, Delta-spewed caveman noise. Drummer Bim Thomas is a force of pounding, spit-soaked mania, and Howland is at his very best, the preacher in the storm, circuit-riding, muddy from the long black road, foaming and rabid, rising from the silty bottom of the darkest river, singing the devil's hallelujah with the weight of whiskey and woe.

This is, apparently, a protest record of sorts. What the protest is, is up to you. We have our own ideas.

The Bassholes: (Don't You) Look Sideways At Me (mp3)

The Bassholes: (I Like) Smoke and Lightning (mp3)


John Paul Keith And The One Four Fives: Spills And Thrills

John Paul Keith And The One Four Fives: Knoxville Town 7"

(Caveat: This was released in a very small, independent pressing in very late 2008. But it got it's "proper" release this year via the mighty Big Legal it counts, dammit)

A while back we wrote a post on "the perfect album", and how that phrase is bandied about way too much, and very few records actually deserve that tag. We don't throw out the term "perfect" very much, if at all. We don't believe we'd call any of the other records we've listed here this year, or in previous years' lists as "perfect". Close, particularly in the case of James Hand's "The Truth Will Set You Free", but not quite.

"Spills and Thrills" is a perfect record.

Earlier this year we wrote "...Imagine, if you will, the world's greatest Country bar band channeling the ghost of Buddy Holly, throwing it into the garbage can, shaking and stirring with equal measure trash, Bakersfield, and hiccuped Crickets southern soul. Filter it through a strainer of sugarcane fields and street grime, add a dash Hollies-mania to the level, and top with a healthy dose of bourbon.

John Paul Keith
, his very self, is a lyricist and guitarist of timeless brilliance, shiny twangster and gutter-snipe troubadour of love, hope, lust and loss. Each song is a blistering, 3-minute how-do-ya-do of rock bliss and dos-i-do hayride, chased by the mystery train straight off the tracks. Your midnight mover and early morning shot glass served sweet and sour, dirty dish-rag included."

We had the opportunity to see the band open for, and serve as the backing band for, Jack Oblivian earlier this year. The set further cemented our belief in their genius, a rollicking night of sweaty rock'n'roll played as salvation.

If you like Rock'n'Roll, Country, Blues, Soul, Trash, Garage, Rhythm and Blues, Pop, or any kind of music with a guitar and voice, then this record should sit proudly on your, better yet, on your turntable. Don't take it off. Just leave it there. You don't need anything else. If you don't like any of the above...well, you're probably dead from the waist down, and the waist up. And there's really no help at that point.

Our best record of the year, then. And years before and to come. The gauntlet is laid down. Better it, if you dare.

John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives: Lookin' For A Thrill (mp3)

John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives: Memphis Girls (mp3)

John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives: Smoke In A Bottle (mp3)

As ever, in this New Year, please consider supporting your local, independent businesses. Fight the man, man.