Who To Trust Who To Kill Who To Love - The Bloody Hollies (Alive Naturalsound)
Singers who even vaguely sound like Robert Plant shit me to tears but a large length of slack can be cut for The Bloody Hollies. A swag of catchy, brittle-edged songs, aggressive, the-blues-do-the-pogo playing and a large serving of irreverence get these Greater New Yorkers (now San Diegans) over the line.
The bass-less Bloody Hollies build their case on a bed of distorted guitar and frenetic drumming, with lead guitarist-vocalist/lead counsel Wesley Doyle prosecuting convincingly for a guilty verdict at the microphone. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, can I submit that it's overly lazy to label him as Plant-influenced - there's a bit of Mark Mothersburgh and god knows who else leaking through his singing. The attitude's the important thing and it's here in shovel-loads. You'd hate to be Wesley's vocal chords the mornign after.
Second guitarist Joey Horgen is adept at the fuzz foundaiton-laying but can play the blues foil too (swapping slide with Doyle's harp on "Sad and Lonely") but if you're expecting Robert Cray, look elsewhere. When these blues have a baby, it's swarthy, drooling, fully-formed and dragging its knuckles. Is that a baseball bat in your hands, baby, or are you just pleased to see me? That's why a song like "Let's Do It" wails, swings its hips - and then smacks you in the chops.
Pssst. Wanna hear a secret? Drummer Mathew Bennett is a secret weapon on that one and almost everything else, beating out relentless patterns and directing the dynamic rises and falls like the commander of an artillety unit. He throws caution to the wind and leads a charge on "Black Box Blues" that ends up in a blur of skins and riffs so blunt you could dig a fence post hole with it.
But nowhere does the strident attack of The Bloody Hollies work better than on "Satanic Satellite" (yes, bands do use titles like that - and long may they run) which sounds like a radio hit in a more enlightened universe. If you find that universe, well, you know the email address.
If there are certain rules to playing "da blues" (and the purists will tell you it's so) then The Bloody Hollies avoided class that day. We, the listening public, are reaping the rewards.