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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Record Review - Cowbell

Beat Stampede

Damaged Goods LP/CD

You probably don’t know London duo Jack Sandham and Wednesday Lyle’s outift, Cowbell. But you should do, because this first album by them is hot hot hot. Soulful Americana garage blues they do make. No they're not just a garage band, as most of the songs are done without the need to fill up on fuzz to hide sub-standard songs. Cowbell are The Dirtbombs + Detroit Cobras + White Stripes...but yet so much more.

We get a short ten-song, 27 minute blast of songs that have that made-up-on-the-spot energy that all excellent primitive rock’n’roll seems to have. Their vocal work of both of them is consistently excellent, especially when harmonising together.

Opener and recent single ‘Tallula’ immediately hits the spot with it’s bottleneck guitar stomp and was made for drivetime radio. 
‘Love Got Me Down’ mines the same sexy-dirty blues seam as The Dead Weather, with Lyle taking centre stage on the vocals and sounding in complete control. ‘Scratch My Back’ is as catchy as influenza. ‘Bills’ sashays in on a smart New Orleans piano part, and introduces some honkingly good sax. Lyle is back behind the microphone, channelling Cat Power-esque tenderness on the ethereal torch song ‘Castle Walls’. Closer ‘All In Good Time’ is a gentle, 50s-inspired nursery rhyme ballard that you could serenade a child at bedtime with.

The limitations of the two-piece band are well known by now (ask The Black Keys, now touring as a foursome and sounding better than ever). For me the best Beat Stampede songs are the ones that have about four or five parts to them. Still, if other two piece bands could show such musical maturity as Cowbell, we'd all be better off. This introductory LP is much better than you probably imagine it is. Go seek and ye shall find out for yourself.

Phil Istine

1 comment:

  1. This band has Mercury music prize written all over it. A