Friday, May 21, 2010
Hey, we're back! And we've got a corker for ya'll today.
We covered the Ten Foot Polecats back a while ago, where we gushed and grovelled at the feet of the mighty, hypnotic punk blues stomp these three cats laid on us both live at the Deep Blues Fest and on their debut record/demo Sterno Soup.
Well, now they've got a new record, I Get Blamed For Everything I Do, on the killer label Hillgrass Bluebilly. It's easily one of our best records of the year. Oh, and they're about to start a tour (coming to Chicago May 23rd! Hallelujah!).
The trio features Jay Scheffler on vocals and "harp", Jim Chilson on guitar, and Dave Darling on drums. Sounds simple enough, don't it? Yeah, well, this aint yr mom's version of the Blues, SUV-style wankery and "smooth grooves". Oh no, no, no. This is the scary Blues that yr mom warned you against, the kind that'll put hair on yr palms, make you go blind, and turn you to the devil and his evil ways.
The record kicks off with a couple of defining tunes. "Chicken Headed Man" is a T-Model Ford (who they've played with) joint that the Polecats own, paying both homage and laying down a gauntlet, beat this, motherfucker. Chilson's guitar is a surging travelouge of juke-floor shanty hypnosis, Scheffler intones a bourbon-braised bbq yowl, and Darling is tribal Spam, spare and primordial. They follow this burner up with "So Good To Me", a swaying, gauzey, mud-bottom drone of a love letter ("you make me want to be good...so good to you baby"), late-nite booze pleading and booty call-ready.
The template is set, and the record rockets on from there.
Travel is a common theme, with tunes like "Tears On My Windshield" (a Mississippi raver), "Couple More Miles" (a lights on the empty highway, 2 A.M.,shimmered ,hypnotic and menacing beauty..."you can't do what I do/and expect everybody to like it"), and one of our favorites, "Big Road", which races like smokestack lightning past lakes and rivers lit with oil-stained fire.
Tracks like the "I'm Going Crazy", "Bar Hoppin", and "Dryspell" are the logical conclusion to the mystery of where Punk and Blues met, and what crossroads they found themselves at, each song a raging, amps to 11 swirl of R.L. Burnside meets Howlin' Wolf meets Hank Williams meets The Sonics meets Billy Childish. Yet doesn't sound like any of 'em, leastaways not any of 'em by themselves.
Throughout the record guitarist Jim Chilson gives a fuckin' clinic on the greasy, fried frenzy 6-string dragger, from meditative, open-spaced Southern back-road space-blues like "So Good To Me", "Brokenhearted", and "Couple More Miles" to tight-fisted trashcan clap-trappers that take up the rest of the record. He's a man to watch, as he feels each groove, seemingly in his very soul, sweating out each electified, gutter trash, shattered string-fest. And Jay Scheffler's vocals are a revelation, channeling Howlin' Wolf in his most primal and menacing, a glass-gargled whiskey glass of Blues 'n' Booze need and desperation, alternately pleading and demanding, full of the vinegar of life and the very love of loss.
The Ten Foot Polecats are the logical heirs to the Fat Possum legacy, a trio of white boys from Boston, trapped in the body of a couple hundred years of Mississippi groove and holler. Damn.
We've poured through and obscene amount of records this year, already, and can say definitively that if you only buy two records this year, you'd have to have catl's "With The Lord For Cowards..." and The Ten Foot Polecats' "I Get Blamed For Everything I Do". Not kidding, no hyperbole, just pure certitude on how great this record is.
Again, The Ten Foot Polecats are on tour, and if they're coming to you town, you owe it to yourself to check 'em out. We'll be at the Chicago show (the good lord knows Chicago needs it).
Ten Foot Polecats: Big Road (mp3)
Ten Foot Polecats: Bar Hoppin' (mp3)
Please support The Ten Foot Polecats, dammit! You won't be sorry.