Monday, June 18, 2012

Album Review, Crow Black Chicken - "Electric Soup"

'White Lightning' trundles along like a cleaned-up take on the old Black Keys sound we loved before we started hearing them on every second advert. Only two minutes or so pass by before an unexpectedly fast, wah soaked guitar solo comes our way, followed immediately by a psychedelic little nod to Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit'. Up next is 'Skin Deep', a more modern electric blues tune with rich, full bodied bass and glimmering overdriven guitar tones. 'Pourin' Down' takes us into more trippy fusion territory, with jazz-rock inspired, delay laden licks that'll get the stoner rock fans on their side no doubt. An odd reference I know but I can't help but be reminded of the mostly forgotten Canadian band I Mother Earth.

'Epitaph' begins life as a misleadingly chilled out ballad, but is quickly betrayed by big, booming vocals and the entrance of solid mid-tempo drums before long. This is a quality fresh interpretation of traditional blues rock formats and so far that's exactly what this record has been all about. 'Charlie's Woman' is a more upbeat track, carried by a snappy beat and coloured tastefully by vocal acrobatics and backing vocals in tow, lending the whole thing a nice Motown Soul atmosphere. The clever arrangement of tracks is evident here with Charlie's Woman making a refreshing contrast with Epitaph.

'John Lee Wee' is balls-out Blues Rock, complete with shufflicious drums and organs to boot. All over in just three minutes: bang! About half-way through the record we meet the title track, 'Electric Soup'. This one captures some of the best aspects of this album in one song; at heart it's a laid back blues with a little mainstream twist but the chorus affected guitar and the more expansive production compared to other tracks keep it in the psychedelic grounds. Now 'Bijou Creole' is truly chilled out stuff, with traditional blues changes and lazy-handed slide guitar licks, all of which leave you totally unready for what's to follow. 'Murmuration' brings the fuzz and the loud bass, definitely the most aggressive track we've heard so far and a definite standout too! 'Lie Awake' brings us into slightly Jazzy territory with a later Clapton vibe about things, while at the other end of the spectrum, 'The Drop' could almost be a Clutch tune; more riff driven and hard-edged.

'Flowers' swirls and rotates like a good high, broken occasionally by a pig-nosed riff, then later by a Hendrix flavoured guitar solo, propped up with heavily distorted bass. The rock keeps up as we finish the album with 'John the Revelator'. Unquestionably excellent vocals are all over this track which also captures the fine points of the clever, yet understated production. We go out on a definite high!

Crow Black Chicken have been given the title of Ireland's hardest working band, and taking a look at their gig schedule it's easy to see why! Catch them in Dublin in Whelans on July 20th by the way. This album was recorded in Gypsy Cottage in the Commeragh Mountains in County Waterford by Phillip MaGee and recorded live according to the band. If so, that is pretty damn impressive because they got the production on each song just right; not too lush and not too raw. Not to mention it's their debut too! Keep an eye out for these chaps because chances are they'll be gigging somewhere near you soon!

Crow Black Chicken - Electric Soup,
Rating: 7/10
Standout Tracks: Pourin' Down, Epitaph, Murmuration.
For fans of: Black Keys, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, if you're like me and sometimes you just dig some dirty blues music then just give it a listen!
Check 'em out here:

Edward Gerard Brophy, bornagainnihilist@gmail(dot)com

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