I’ve seen Black Cat Bone live before, but it’s still a punch to the gut when they kick off their set. Opener ‘Lost’ is an ample reminder of a sound that’s darker’n a moonless midnight in an abandoned graveyard. It’s a sound that’s big and heavy, as the following ‘Love My Baby’ confirms – heavy like a big artic rumbling down the motorway, with lashings of slide guitar from Luis Del Castillo, and howling harp and broken-glass gargling vocals from Ross Craig. Yes, it’s a sound that invites you to conjure up exotic similes.
|Black Cat Bone - "How-how-howlin', baby"|
The pretext for this latest live show is the launch of their latest single ‘Coming For You’, which they knock out early on, with Craig strapping on a Strat to add some extra guitar chords, and bassist Ewan McKenna chucking in some high harmonies when he’s not too busy stirring up the bottom end.
You’d be hard pushed to say that Black Cat Bone swing, but the rolling thunder of their rhythm section, with lots of floor tom from drummer Kai Wallace, makes them curiously danceable considering their tough-as-teak approach. This phenomenon reaches its peak with ‘Hip Shake’, their rabble-rousing take on Slim Harpo’s ‘Shake Your Hips’, which even has a passing waitress dancing and grinning on her way to the Voodoo Rooms kitchen. ‘Freak Machine’ is mellow by comparison – well, a bit – but with a frantic guitar conclusion in the wake of a rather corny singalong.
The stomping rhythm of ‘Move On’ segues into ‘Morning Light’, from their Get Your Kicks Sessions EP. Another highlight of their show, that floor tom boom underpins a juggernaut riff, and the anthemic “How-how-howlin’, baby” chorus.
New song ‘Wash Away’ is more upbeat, until its fierce, discordant ending, while ‘Punks And Pushers’ manages to meld old fashioned R’n’B style harp tootling from Craig with a Beck-like hip-hop rhythm to the vocals.
They wrap up with ‘Get Your Kicks’, with bowed bass from McKenna setting the tone for a doomy opening, and indeed it’s pretty doomy throughout until a turbocharged finish. It wouldn’t be my choice for a set closer to be honest, but hey, the crowd were happy enough.
Their pals Logan’s Close provide support, and are an entirely different proposition. Where BCB are all about a big dirty groove, Logan’s Close have their roots the Swinging Sixties, when R’n’B made for hit 45s (remember them?) in Britain. But if the opening ‘Can’t Let You
|Logan's Close get more-than-nifty|
An as yet untitled effort, noted on their set list as ‘James Bond Yin’, does indeed have jagged vibe of a Sixties film theme song, while ‘Paralysed’ gets into ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’-type Arabic stylings. ‘The Vandal’ is a hard riffing thing that sounds like power pop of a punkier vintage, while ‘Never Bloom’ harks back to a more shagadelic Sixties phase, with crazed guitar from Carl Marah.
They do have a perfect ear for that Beat Boom sound though, as old favourites like ‘Work No More’ demonstrate, its British rock’n’roll vibe evoking simpler times. ‘Girl’ provides an opportunity for a Keys keys wig-out, as it were, while ‘In The Morning’ features twin lead vocals from Marah and his reliably daft co-front man Scott Rough. And ‘Listen To Your Mother’, with which they close, still stands out as a more-than-nifty bit of jangle-pop songwriting.
The Logan’s Close boys may capture the spirit of some different power pop vibes in the future, but hopefully they’ll retain the appealing, knowing sense of fun they’ve shown to date – and get some smart threads on again, for god’s sake.