Category Archives: Country

VIC & KEPI: ‘After the Flood.’

Wow!

You know how it is: you’re on coronavirus lockdown, stuck in the house. There are no shops open, which means no record stores to hang out in. But that doesn’t really matter, ’cause you ain’t working and have no money anyway.

Bored out your box, you half heartedly surf through Bandcamp looking for something fresh. But it’s a struggle.

Then, BOOM!

I’ll admit, it was the album’s artwork that first caught my eye. Then the names … VIC RUGGIERO & KEPI GHOULIE. I know these dudes. Well, I know of them – they both already have places in my record and CD collections, courtesy of their history with The Slackers and Groovie Ghoulies respectively. This was gonna be good.

In fact, it was more than’good.’ The next thirty-five minutes or so were spent foot tapping and bouncing around my room to a good, old fashioned, stripped back rhythm & blues vibe.

My first reaction was it reminded me very much of the Rolling Stones album, ‘Stripped‘ from around 1995. I had never really noticed before, but perhaps because of the song content on this album, there is a similarity at times between Vic and Mick’s vocal intonation.

And then, just as I was reveling in this comparison, I reached track four, ‘Bright Lights.’ Of course this is a Jimmy Reed standard, but I recognised it from an ‘unofficial’ Stones album from back in the day when their staple was covering some of the big blues players from USA.

(An old performance of ‘Big Kiss,’ from 2017)

Several songs on ‘After the Flood,’ sound familiar, I have to say, though I really have no idea as to the writing credits. I do know, though, that Vic & Kepi cover the Shangri-las – twice. ‘Big Kiss,‘ at track six is a slowed down version of the Sixties hit. It works really well, though I personally prefer the album-closing version of the track, ‘Great Big Reprise,’ which is a lot more ‘perky’ in its delivery

There’s something really endearing about an acoustic and more organic interpretation of rhythm & blues. Maybe it’s because the bass lines have more room to cut through and add to the bouncy feel; maybe it’s because, as in this case, Vic & Kepi are afforded space to blend their vocals and interaction, or maybe it’s just that good music doesn’t need to be over complicated and cluttered.

Seriously, there’s not one dodgy track on this album. It just feels like the lads are playing a relaxed, fun jam and somebody left the recording switch on accidentally.

Which, actually, if you read the notes to this Bandcamp release …..

JAY CLARK BAND: ‘The Time Is Now.’

The Jay Clark Band (or JCB, as they are often referred to) are a five-piece rock / country rock band from Dayton, Ohio.

Their third album, ‘The Time Is Now’ has just been released (28th June 2019) and it’s a real stomper. If I use the description, ‘old fashioned,’ I mean that in a purely good sense of of the expression. This is straight-up, no frills, no nonsense rock music.

Writing this on a dismal, grey, wet Glasgow (Scotland) afternoon, this album transports me to a dusty, road trip through mid-state America. It’s full of loud, boisterous riffs with country twangs and little tinges of Def Lepard / Iron Maiden guitar solos.

The album kicks off with ‘Not Giving Up,’ a fast-paced out and out rocker. I hope it doesn”t offend anyone, but the style reminds me a little of Ugly Kid Joe in their heyday. (That’s a good thing, by the way.)

‘You‘re Going Down’ follows and then comes ‘Leaving.’ Underpinned by a Hammond organ (I think) this one is a little more in the Bon Jovi mode, to me and sort of puts the brakes on in preparation for the rock ballad that is ‘Find A Way,’ which leans more to the Country Rock style.

Fists in the air! Here comes ‘Bring Down The House,’ and don’t be misled by the verses. When the chorus kicks in, you’ll be punching the air with the best of them. Shades of Alice Cooper on this one? Again, some lovely whining guitar touches.

‘Stand Out,’ continues the good rockin’ feel before the pace drops again with ‘Alive‘ – a track that does remind me again of Bon Jovi (this time, ‘Wanted, Dead or Alive’) and not just because of the acoustic guitar sounding introduction. But that’s OK, I guess.

‘Nothing Good in Life Ever Lasts,’ is definitely out of the Country Rock locker, with a metronomic, thumping beat. And am I imagining it, or does vocalist Jay’s voice take on more of a drawled inflection? ‘

Hell Of A Time,’ is a mid-tempo sing-a-long classic rock type, leading into the closing track, ‘Long Long Journey.’ This is a slow burner, at least for the first half of the song, before it kicks in on both tempo and attitude for a minute, before dropping back down for the closing thirty-two seconds. If there’s one tiny wee criticism of this album, then it’s that I’d have swapped the final two tracks around, so the album has a stronger finish. But then, that’s just me …

There I go again – nitpicking, I know. Yeah, overall this is a n excellent, good time rockin’ album. I like it. Good stuff!

JADE JACKSON: ‘Bottle It Up.’

Some friends and regular visitors to this blog may find it surprising that I would choose to feature Country music. What? Me? Me with the mohawk and a punk music collection of hundreds?

Yup.

Back in my teens I bought several albums by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. Granted, that may have initially been because I had a crush on them, but continuous plays of those records instilled in me a latent liking for Country music.

And I’m not the only punk to get into the Country vibe – the new album, ‘Wilderness’ by the rising star of the scene, Jade Jackson, was produced by Mike Ness of Social Distortion fame.

I’m no massive expert though so it’s not for me to comment by way of any lazy comparisons. What I will say is that her voice has a delicate rasp, which can be turned to the more soulful and slower tracks, but excels in the more upbeat numbers.

It’s the latter style that appeals more to me. (That won’t surprise you when you look around this blog.)

The opening track, featured in the video above, is probably my favourite, although, ‘Don’t Say You Love Me,’ is another catchy foot-tapper. And ‘Mulitple Choice,’ while slower has a lovely warm feel and hook to it.

‘Long Way Home,‘ has a real anthemic feel to it – one that would have the hand-held phone torch lights swaying in a stadium gig. Title track ‘Wilderness‘ is “this in-between area I’m in right now as a musician,” says Jade, referring to all the unknown and unexpected aspects of touring and setting out in the music business. It’s another of the upbeat tracks, with lovely, harmonies.

This is Jade’s second album – the one reputed to be the hardest to crack, according to many, many artists and bands before her. But I reckon she has it sussed. I’ll not be first to have said this, but I think Country music has found itself a new star.