James & The Ultrasounds

A vital shot of garage-blues direct from the Memphis underground.

James Godwin singing into a microphone and playing electric guitar, underneath red lights.
(Image: © Stephen Berkeley-White)

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Blowing into town on the quietest night of the week at the end of their first UK jaunt, within their opening bars James Godwin’s Memphis four-piece prove themselves a potent antidote to that early weeknight torpor.

All western shirts, leather, sideburns and Elvis-perfect Tennessee drawl, declaring they’re here to transform Monday night into a Friday, Godwin’s crew effortlessly proceed to make that promise a reality. Opening with the twin-slam of Norma Jean and Sleep Cheap, bookends of last year’s excellent Bad To Be Here album, the Ultrasounds summon up the authentic reek of Beale Street, even paying tribute to their local discount grocer with Cash Saver Blues.

Streets Get Slick, the album’s tearjerker, sees the pace ease back as guitarist Luke White amps up the heartache with some keening e-bow, before the revs are upped again with juddering tear-ups of Party Dracula and Lover Man.

Chuck Berry’s Memphis Tennessee tips further salute to the boys’ hometown, before bellowed demands for an encore are obliged with a raging Raise My Kids − a defiant garage-punk howler built on the kind of two-chord mantra that would have done The Stooges proud. Transcending the slow-night blues with amp-shredding aplomb, James Godwin and crew supply a welcome jolt to the system.