Monday, 12 August 2013

Chili Cold Blood - And Now the Dawn (album review)

The state of Texas has never had a shortage amazing musicians and amazing bands.  Chili Cold Blood are an Austin based band and provide no exception to the general rule.  The sound of Texan rock bands is unlike anything else you'll hear.  One part Led Zeppelin, one part Black Sabbath (or AC-DC), one part middle finger all traveling down the dirt road feel of ZZ Top in the sweltering and humid heat of night.  I was amazed to discover that this is Chili Cold Blood's 7th album over the course of the past 10 years.  The ideas presented here sound just-plucked-off-the-vine fresh and the energy and enthusiasm caught on record is through the ceiling.  If you're new to this band as I am, hang on tight because you're about to get your ass rock n rolled black and shiny blue.

One of the first things you'll notice about Chili Cold Blood is that the band uses two lead singers who trade off vocal duties on different tracks.  This automatically wins them points in my book, because I have always loved the idea of two singers and the possibilities that set-up creates.  For Chili Cold Blood, the singers are distinguishable enough to lend each of their songs a distinctive feel.  Unfortunately, I don't know which singer is which by name, but "Rocket Ship", "And Now The Dawn", "Trade Your Sons", "Past Savior" and "Wait" are 'darker' songs that wouldn't be out of place on a Doom compilation.  They are sung by the same vocalist, with the remaining five tracks handled by the other vocalist.  Without knowing anything about the band, it's my guess that the two singers are the main songwriters of the band who share the responsibility and do it solo, bringing in songs for the band to jam on.  These two styles are distinctive but create a healthy and complete 'being' rather than sounding like an identity crisis on record.  It's always great when two distinctive sounding visions can come together on a record and sound so natural doing so.  It certainly is a rare feat.

The dark and brooding (lightly) countrified rock n roll is counterbalanced by the 'other' vocalist's energetic and (lightly) punkified, to-the-point compositions.  This side of the band focuses on driving Deep Purplesque rhythms and Byrdsian pedal steel solos, with a punk twist.  It's a good combination alright.  Just about the coolest thing you've ever heard.

'And Now the Dawn' is a Texas funk machine.  "In the Neon" is just a groovy blast, but, not finished there, the band follows up with the title track which is guaranteed to shake you in one way or another.  Then that's followed up by "Rest" which just finishes you off.  If this album was a night of drinking, you are now the music listener's equivalent of sprawled on the front lawn next to a puddle of vomit by 8 o'clock in the evening.  And that's before you even hear the inventive and iconoclastic guitar solos which are very countrified and very Texan.  When that happens you are up this album's creek without a paddle.  Only halfway through the album, this party's just getting started.

At the end of the day I am impressed with this album.  Damn impressed!  Though it's not a 'retro' sounding album, it's got a no-bullshit vibe about it that lends it an old school sensibility.  This is straight ahead heavy blues inspired rock music.  I can't help but picture this album being recorded in the back of an old saloon or general store, set down on tape between fist fights and whisky swills, passing the bottle around and wiping mouths on shirt sleeves.  Then spitting out the side of the mouth but always staring straight ahead with dark intense eyes.  Never losing the focus.  They've got the eye of the tiger and though they are 7 albums and 10 years into being a band, they haven't lost that ability to spark something in new listeners.

Highlights include: "In the Neon" and "And Now the Dawn"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 40:45

Ethan Shaw (pedal steel/vocals)
Doug Strahan (guitar/vocals)
Matt Puryear (drums)
Dave Wesselowski (bass)

From: Austin, Texas

Genre: Stoner, Country Rock, Blues

Reminds me of: Blue Cheer, The Byrds, Deep Purple, Wolf Parade

Release Date: July 1, 2013

Chili Cold Blood on facebook

***special thanks to Bill Goodman of The Soda Shop and The Ripple Effect for bringing this album to my attention***

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