As they say, ‘it’s a game of two halves.’
I think you’d really have to be an enthusiastic enthusiast (if you see what I mean) for this particular style of music to really get off on it. The ‘concept’ if you like is sound. The imagery it draws out of the songs is vivid. But it’s just too damn downbeat for me personally.
Apparently when he started working on ‘Ten Fires’ Jim Dead, whom I believe is from Glasgow,
“… was thinking an awful lot about all he things that make the human condition. I was also thinking some about Judgement Day and the Apocalypse. The end of the world and how that relates to love, faith, fear and hope, our condition and our emotional well-being. I started thinking about how good we have it, yet how we also seem to have destroyed our ability to be men and women. To do certain things. We’ve lost things that made what came before us so amazing.”
See me? See thinking? I’m shallow, like that. I’m more from the simplistic, Ramones school of thought.
‘Ten Fires’ extends to twelve tracks spanning some fifty-six and a half minutes and with two of the songs barely breaking one and a half minutes, it means the others average some five minutes plus. (I haven’t done the maths, so don’t hang me for that if not completely accurate!) And that, for me is too long in most cases. I have the attention span of a rampant gnat, and I have to say that with songs so heavy and downbeat, I just switch off.
The album does have its moments however – most notably when the pace picks up a little. Second track in, ‘Bone Blue Moon’ is a gritty taste of Americana, with a slow burning rock flavour and Country styled vocals. I don’t know if a video exists for this track, but if it does, then it’s surely almost sepia in colour and depicts a battered station wagon creating dust clouds in its wake as it trundles down the rock strewn dirt track.
‘Jim Landstrom Must Die,’ is another. This one rocks a bit more and actually kicks ass as a stand-alone track. The distinctly lo-fi production (of the whole album) adds to the feel on this one, the vocals coming from some way distant to the mic, as the shuffling, stomping beat takes the listener way out west.
Actually, the following track, ‘Hotel’ is by no means a ‘rocker,’ what with it relying on simple acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals for its delivery, but it doesn’t engender the morose feelings of other songs and is a pleasant little song, which at three and a half minutes is just about right.
The track entitled ‘UNTITLED’ is a dirty and dark blues number that plods its way through five and a half minutes with some nice atmospheric, eastern-sounding guitar. ‘Mean-Eyed River Snake’ is straight out of the Deep South, with a steamy, heavy blues sound, while album closer, ‘The Hallelujah Revolver’ is a bit of an epic at seven and a half minutes, resplendent with loud waling vocals and crashing blues guitar riffs. Maybe a bit on the long side?
Actually – I’ve just realised that the tracks I’ve specifically mentioned are most of those played and arranged by Jim Dead and The Doubters, Jim’s ‘live’ band that includes alt bluesman, Craig Hughes whose work has previously been reviewed on LOUD HORIZON.
So yeah, a bit mixed – some great, some not so great and some too long.
Maybe this is another where less could have been more?
(Released through The Deadsville Recording Company and available now – October 2011)