The Dunhill Blues - The Dunhill Blues (Off The Hip)
Here's an album with more faces than the Devonshire Street tunnel has buskers at Xmas rush hour. It's the first full LP for Sydney's Dunhill Blues and Multiple Personality Disorder rarely sounded so much fun.
Stylistically, you're entitled to scratch your head and ask but you'll be far better off (and the dandruff will stay on your scalp) if you just have another drink and go with the flow. Genres clash on "The Dunhill Blues" like best mates on a buck's night so call it garage rockin' rhythm 'n' blues with a bit of ragtime punk and be done with it. Chicago blues in a dalliance with its dirty Memphis cousin in a cheap Sydney doss house.
From the stuttering garage rock of "Monica" to the skewed skiffle of the banjo-infused "Hit The Wall (It's Getting Old)" or the amphetamine country-punk of "Cash", "The Dunhill Blues" is an unadulterated blast. But so are a lot of garage rock albums. You know, three chords and just add beer...
What sets "The Dunhill Blues" apart is its quirky texture and that indefinable something that makes it sound as if they had a ball recording it. Sax, banjo, keyboards and trumpet mix it with guitar, drums and bass. Mellotron would have made it if the band knew how to spell it. Like me, they probably thought sitar was a word for toilet uttered by someone with a lisp.
"The Dunhill Blues" was committed to tape over just two days in February 2009. Guitarists Dan Batchelor and Greg Bergin share the bulk of the vocals, 'though there's a bittersweet note here: Kristen McCall, who played guitar on all the songs and sang four, died from head injuries sustained in a fall, a month after the recording session. He was 32. The band has decided to carry on in his memory.
There's a simplicity in the songs that sounds so right. A high snot quotient helps - and surfaces prominently in the cranky "Carcrash" where handclaps herald its descent into Hell - while the swingy greasy blues wail of "Jesus May Forgive You (But I Never Will)" works up a head of steam that more mannered bands would be hard-pressed to replicate.
You can even singalong with "Living La Vida Loaded" and the strident "Bell Desk Blues" has a hook broad-minded radio could hang a playlist spot on. Frantic bar-room rocker "You Me Car Park Now" has an intro that it wouldn't touch.
"Midnight Wolf" takes an instrumental side trip to go during in the swamp. Go figure, as they say in the classics, but it sho-nuff sounds good.
Rock and roll has re-invented itself so often sometimes it feels like there's no place for it to go. The albums that say anything stand out because they have character. Case in point.
It's raggedy and ramshackle but "The Dunhill Blues" is punchy and fun into the bargain. Get better acquainted and invite it to your next party. It'll be the attention-seeking one in the corner spinning yarns that have everyone in stitches.