Blues Round-up: June 2015

Henry Yates on new releases from The Dirty Aces, Jeff Jensen, Left Lane Cruiser, Laurence Jones and The Graveltones

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The Dirty Aces: From The Basement

British harmonica wizard and Dirty Aces leader Giles Robson has made no secret of his ambition to break beyond the blues circuit. With its smart, contemporary, melodic songwriting, From The Basement could take him overground. Sprayed with gale-force earworm harp hooks – apparently the result of a drinking session with Steve Cropper in which the Stax guitarist urged Robson to play ‘money licks’ – it’s rare to hear a blues-based album that could be so readily whistled by the milkman.

It’s eclectic, too. Gems like Sinnin’ ’Gainst Me have a foot planted in the Marquee circa’66, but the guitar break in Na Na Na Na Na evokes Daft Punk, and even trad-blues cuts like Anna Marie could reel in the indie kids. Among these, the slam-dunk moment – and the track to download the moment you’ve read this – is Ain’t No Forgettin’. A smash-and-grab punk-blues belter, it’s like Motörhead augmented by Little Walter, and an early contender for blues track of the year. (810)/o:p

Jeff Jensen: Morose Elephant

Admittedly it was that title that saw Morose Elephant plucked from the slush pile, but Jensen holds the attention with some deft songcraft. Ash And Bone finds the bandleader contemplating his own cremation over neck-tingling folk guitar, while the gritty Get Along is a smart inversion of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song (‘It’s a big old world – we ain’t all gonna get along’). (710)

Left Lane Cruiser: Dirty Spliff Blues

Not just dirty, but filthy, as the Fort Wayne duo Left Lane Cruiser top up our tinnitus with their eighth album in nine years. Blunt instruments they may be, but Left Lane Cruiser are brutally effective: Whitebread N’ Beans is good-ol’-boy boogie on steroids, Tres Borrachos is a hornet in a lawnmower, while the woozy slide-blues of Elephant Stomp evokes mescal and sunburn. (710)

Laurence Jones: What’s It Gonna Be

We’ll take the molten Strat chops as read, but at the age of 23 Laurence Jones is now the complete package, manning up at the microphone and throwing out original songs that keep you guessing. Witness the thrilling moment when Don’t Need No Reason suddenly slips its time signature, or Evil’s hushed mid-point breakdown. This one should raise him up another few rungs. (810)

The Graveltones: Love Lies Dying

Also representing the scabby arse of the blues this month are The Graveltones, an Oz duo who were nominated for our Best New Band award in 2013. You’ll surely welcome the granite riffs that carve up World On A String and Fancy Things, but Jimmy O’s pipes are the vote-splitter. A top-drawer shrieker, his evil-incarnate delivery sometimes sails a little close to schlock-horror theatrics. (710)