Monday, February 7, 2022

Quickies - Malone Sibun, Naked Gypsy Queens, and Ritchie Dave Porter & Debra Susan

On your marks and get set folks, for a quick sprint through a selection of two current EPs and a single.
Malone Sibun – Ashes To Dust EP

It’s two years since the duo of Marcus Malone and Innes Sibun released their first album Come Together, and now they’re back with a four-song EP knocking out more of their earthy brand of blues-rock.
‘Makin’ It’ opens up with a rat-a-tat drum intro, setting up a shuffling rhythm to go with a booty-shaking bass groove from the ubiquitous Roger Inniss, rocking organ, and bright and bopping
Malone and Sibun scan the horizon for that confounded bridge
rhythm guitar.  All of which is the platform not just for Malone’s trademark sassy’n’soulful vocal, but for some yowling, FX-heavy guitar breaks from (I assume) Sibun.
‘Ashes To Dust’ itself features a nagging, stuck-needle riff combined with more eye-popping guitar licks around the verse.  It’s the precursor to a slower, grander chorus draped in swathes of organ from Moz Gamble, while Malone goes for an epically framed romantic lyric, all “winds of change,” “the future is burning stars,” and, of course, “ashes to dust”.
Their take on Willie Dixon’s ‘Evil’ doesn’t carry Howlin’ Wolf’s air of lurking menace, but it’s still a rip-snorting affair built on clattering drums and a Zeppish stop-start stairway of a riff, while Malone agonises about relationship devilry.  Then they close the book with the yearning, plangent ‘Restless Heart’.  Here we have a rootsy, folk-soul-blues type tune featuring rolling and rippling Dobro, over long notes of chapel-like organ, with sensitive, sometimes harmonised vocals on the top.  It’s a second cousin to the acoustic sections of ‘Taste Of Your Love’, from their debut album, but worth repeated listening in its own right.
Ashes To Dust is a strong and focused appetiser from Malone Sibun.  Bring on the next main course.
Ashes To Dust is out now on Redline Records, and can be ordered here.
Naked Gypsy Queens – Georgiana EP
Naked Gypsy Queens may be from Tennessee, but don’t go expecting them to sound all country-ish so-called Southern rock, no siree.  Okay, the closing track of the five here, ‘If Your Name Is New York (Then Mine Is Amsterdam)’ may have some hints of the Black Crowes, but that’s it – and I’ll get back to that curiously titled outing, inspired by a line in the Scorsese movie Gangs Of New York, in due course.
What we have here is modern classic rock, if you like, derived from sweating over plenty of the old school variety.  Opener ‘Georgiana’ sets out their stall with the twin guitar combination of
Naked Gypsy Queens, thankfully fully dressed
Pic by Juan Ibanez
Cade Pickering and Chris Attigliato, and if the latter’s voice isn’t quite as throat-shredding as Steven Tyler, it’s heading that way.  It rolls in with grinding slide guitar and ringing rhythm chords, rolling over crashing drums from Landon Herring, before breaking out into a turbo-charged riffing bridge halfway through its two-and-a-half-minute sojourn.  The riff on the following ‘Down To The Devil’ comes over like an illegitimate descendant of ‘Stormbringer’, while Attigliato rattles out the lyrics in teeth-chattering fashion.  The old-fashioned phrase that springs to mind is “Let’s rawk!”
‘Strawberry Blonde #24’ kicks off with gritty guitar over a thudding beat, before they switch things up into a big, ringing refrain around the repeated line “She’s gonna kill you dead”.  (Like, there’s another outcome possible?)  Then they cool their jets to usher in a scratchy, serrated-edge guitar solo that eventually achieves lift-off and meanders back to that bang-your head riff.  ‘Wolves’ opens up slower, with doomy drums’n’bass from Herring and Bo Howard, before getting into a twitchy groove powered by resonant guitar chords.  Attigliato’s vocals are at their most rasping here, but with a delivery that also leans, Chili Pepperishly and ear-catchingly, towards Anthony Kiedis.  Oh yeah, and there’s some atmospheric, high-wire guitar soloing too.
And then there’s the aforementioned ‘If Your Name Is New York’ thing to close.  As previously stated, there are some echoes of the Robinson bruvvers in its melodic, evocative acoustic opening, but then that Kiedis-esque vocal phrasing kicks in again to produce something more distinctive.  And speaking of distinctive, those big, ringing guitar chords turn up again as something of a trademark, before a Page-like guitar break beats a path to the grandissimo motif of the outro.
Fans of Tyler Bryant and his gang will probably dig the Gypsy Queen sound, but I don't need that comparison to like 'em.  Georgiana is a mucho impressive calling card.
Georgiana is released by Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records on 11 February, and can be ordered here.

Ritchie Dave Porter & Debra Susan – 'Sugar And Spice'
‘Sugar And Spice’ is the latest in a string of singles from Birmingham blues guitar stalwart Ritchie Dave Porter and vocalist Debra Susan, and Porter certainly gets it darting off its starting blocks with some meaty and life-in-the-fast-lane-intricate riffing.  Susan’s rather girlish vocals aren’t really my thang, but the double-tracking and reverb on the chorus an introduces an interesting Sixties vibe.  Porter catches the ear again with some tasty guitar work, well complemented by his own assertive, rumbling bass.  But overall the mix feels a bit off, with the drums pushed too far back.  There are good things going on in there, but some work is needed to make them gel more definitively.
‘Sugar And Spice’ is out now on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

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