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Wednesday 10 December 2014

Big Boy Bloater - Loopy

Big Boy Bloater has been around the block a few times.
From playing to a handful of people in a bar to standing stage centre in front of thousands (sometimes in the same week) he has been there and bought the t-shirt multiple times.
And as expected from someone with that much experience tucked under their belt he knows the lay of the land when it comes to providing a performance.
Similarly he also knows how to transform the live buzz that he can so effortlessly create into a studio tour de force with the evidence of that plain for all to hear on his latest outing ‘Loopy’.

Giving his band a holiday for this release we are given an insight into the big mans roots, and with each song it sounds as if it has been honourably and delicately dragging each one out of the primordial blues swamp and giving them a careful brush down before then putting them through their paces prior to finally giving them a smack on the arse and sending them out into the world to upset or excite people all over again.

Kicking off with the cover of Bear Cat he manages to keep one eye on the authenticity angle and the other on just letting it all hang out.
It’s quite simply a master-class on how to take a song from the fifties and ease it into the present.
The power and the passion in the song is still kept perfectly intact and as a riposte to Big Mama Thornton and her Hound Dog it’s an affectionate slap that compliments the Rufus Thomas original.

For many starting an album with this would just herald a downward slide as where can you go from such a high, but this isn’t a wet behind the collar artist and as said someone who knows what they are doing so there’s no real danger of it being the schoolboy error of starting off with the killer punch and then following it with some half hearted swipes.
Instead what we get is ‘Every path has its puddle’ that originally appeared as a full band effort with Imelda May providing backing vocals, but this time the sleaze notch is turned up to stun and it’s existing in the space between Little Willie John and Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’.

With two songs down and another eight to go it’s easy to get a bit carried away, but thankfully there’s not one moment that kicks in as anticlimactic, and instead the train just keeps a rolling all night long.
Not that this song is on it, but if anyone is looking for another good cover to get their teeth into then by track six there’s Alligator Wine that is more Screaming Jay Hawkins than Jeff Buckley and while the latter’s version is nothing to sniff at it’s in how Big Boy Bloater delivers it that the magic lies.
In fact instead of calling the album ‘Loopy’, as it’s mainly been recorded using a loop pedal, he could have called it ‘I don’t drop the ball………….ever’, and not been embarrassed at the boast as it’s rooted in fact.
Saying that it's highly recommended really does fall short of covering how good this is.
So as it is nearly x-mas get on it as it's doubtful that anyone would be disappointed in finding Big Boy Bloater in their stocking, but then again all the ladies say that. ;)

You can pick the album up just now, along with his back catalogue in NHC Music Glasgow or preorder it direct from his website here. 

And if you want to see the man himself there's some dates left for this year and more arranged for next.
Thu 11th Dec - NEWCASTLE
Fri 12th Dec - NORWICH
NORWICH - The Talk, Oak St
Sat 13th Dec - LUTON
The Bear Club, Millyard, LUTON
Tue 16th Dec - LONDON
Team Rock Xmas Bash - + Bonfanti & Bryant
Thur 22 Jan - BALHAM)
Bodeans, Balham
Fri 13th Feb - BEDFORD)
Esquires - more info soon
Thur 19th Feb - READING
More info soon
Thurs 5th March - LONDON
The Garage, Islington
Fri 6th March - BRISTOL
The Thunderbolt, 124 Bath Rd
Sat 7th March - SHOREHAM
Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham
Fri 13th March - WINCHESTER
The Railway, Winchester
Fri 20th March - NEWCASTLE
Cluny 2, Newcastle
Sat 21st March - GLASGOW
Sleazy's, Sauciehall St, Glasgow
Sun 22nd March - KENDAL
Bootleggers, Kendal
Thur 26th March - BIRMINGHAM
Roadhouse, Birmingham
Fri 27th March - SHEFFIELD
Greystones, Greystones Rd, Sheffield

And finally here's some footage I shot at at NHC Muisc where Big Boy Bloater kindly played an acoustic in store.
Pretty raw and just from an old digital camera, but it is what it is. 

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Have Mercy Las Vegas - That's Life

People love little genre tags.
Alt-folk is one.
Anyone who plays acoustically and likes the sound of the fiddle and mandolin are often bundled together and pushed into a box that is already full to the brim of guys wearing tweed, sporting bushy beards and refusing to wear socks.
It’s not really fair though.

The folk fraternity is in reality a broad church.
It’s a very large umbrella that people can shelter under as they experiment and co-exist happily next to each other.

So basically the point is that no one should take the quick glancing Mumford and Sons overview and dismiss those who are ploughing that particular field, because if they do then they are apt to miss out on how good Have Mercy Las Vegas are.
As here they are - with their debut full length - delivering a confident antidote to the stadium stomp of what some may perceive modern day folk to sounds like.

With a nuanced understanding that the past is just the foundation for the future they are melding the traditional with the modern in a far more effective manner than many of their peers.
Much of the original material revisits the sound of Scottish band The Humpff Family, and yet that’s entirely coincidental as when I mentioned it to band member Stephen Scott he was unaware for their existence.
His ignorance of them actually ties in neatly with how they are really a product of the same environment rather than looking to pay homage to a particular sound.  
And sound-wise there’s no real down side.

From songs that would lend themselves to soundtracking a hoe-down to more introspective moments that are evocatively emotional the band are consistently delivering a quality performance.
With a recent local television appearance drawing some well deserved attention to them, a slew of live dates that will further cement their reputation, and work already done on a follow up release it is already looking as if 2015 could be this bands year.

So I shouldn't really need to say that grabbing a copy of ‘That’s Life’ now and telling everyone that you were there first will make you the smug King or Queen of Smugland when every one else catches on, but there you go. I sort of just did.