Friday, 14 November 2014

Record Review - Bad Brad & The Fat Cats

Published in the Shortlist section of The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday November 14.

Bad Brad & The Fat Cats
Take A Walk With Me

Bad Brad & The Fat Cats hail from Austin, Texas, a trio who specialise in high-octane electric blues Рno quarter asked, none given Рa heady m̩lange of Chicago shuffles, 12-bar porch-burners and general sweaty party tunes, south US style.

Traditionally a three-piece (Brad Stivers on guitar and vocals, his brother Alec thumping tubs and Nic Clark on harmonica), their second cut (recorded live in the studio) sees them bring in a number of guests to bulk out their sound, most notably Dwight Carrier adding a touch of Zydeco courtesy of some nice accordion playing on ‘See My Way’, a move which breaks up the set nicely, as does Lionel Young’s tasteful slide guitar on ‘Other Side’.

Elsewhere, it’s blues guitar lover’s heaven, Bad Brad perhaps taking the spotlight a little more than he needs on a few tracks, but ultimately producing what is by no means anything new, but something that’ll back your next southern-styled BBQ and beer bash a treat.

Samuel J. Fell

Friday, 7 November 2014

Record Review - Cold War Kids

Published in the Shortlist section of The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday November 7.

Cold War Kids
Hold My Home
Create Control / Downtown

With their fifth cut since 2004, Southern Californian quartet Cold War Kids have crossed a sonic divide. Virtually gone (in an obvious, 12-bar sense) is the blues influence that permeated their earlier music, in its place a freewheeling, upbeat feeling, all handclaps and sing-a-long choruses, layered guitars and booming piano, swirling B3, a psychedelic pop gem that bumps and grinds along, waving cheekily at the blues it’s left behind (but still secretly loves and misses), barefoot and fancy free.

Opener ‘All This Could Be Yours’, driven by Matthew Schwartz’s pounding piano, draws a blueprint for the rest of the album – ‘Hot Coals’ builds to a shimmering crescendo; ‘Nights & Weekends’ is all psych-layered warmth; ‘Harold Bloom’ brings it back, sparse, a melding of REM and Pink Floyd. The riff-led ‘Hotel Anywhere’ is perhaps the bluesiest track on the record, a nod to where they’ve been, on an album which, as a whole, sees a band who will embrace change without a second thought, doing it well.

Samuel J. Fell