SIDEWAYS - The Mess Hall (Cayman Island Mafia/Shock Records)
This hot little six-tracker has been out for a little while now but has definitely become one of my favourite releases of 2003.
The Mess Hall are a two piece hailing from Sydney who have been around for a couple of years Ð they feature Jed Kurzel on Guitar and lead vocals while AJ (Anthony Johnsen) provides a rock steady drum track and some rollicking back up vocals. Since they started The Mess Hall have been gathering a strong live following and have landed some choice support slots including a recent tour with Jet, tours with Tex Perkins, as well as playing the recent Splendour in the Grass festival and an upcoming date with the all Aussie Homebake festival.
The EP opens up with "Lock and Load" Ð a catchy little number that rocks along, with a little bit of blues feel but with a nice kick to it, once it powers up. Track 2 is "Railyard Rumble", a hard driving blues stomper in the Bo Diddley vein is a standout track both on this EP and live Ð featuring a catchy riff, dirty blues vocals and some nice slide guitar. Next up is "Shake, Shake" a more laid back affair that just hums along nicely. It also features the keyboard talents of John Gauci in the background (who has recently worked with the likes of X and Ed Kuepper). "Get Away" starts with a country blues-tinged intro before kicking into rock mode and then quietens down again before climaxing in sonic barrage and fading away. "Do It Again" opens with a driving riff that is maintained through the song, this time climaxing in a wall of guitar and blues shouting. The final track "Feel Like a Dog" is built around a nice riff that has its rock moments and makes for a fine finish to the CD.
"Feeling Sideways" is a very strong effort Ð not one weak track, great production Ð and I highly recommend it to anyone with a taste for raw blues inspired rock. For a two piece these guys make one helluva good racket! Pass the straight bourbon, Barman! - Richard Sharman
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