Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Wicked Lo-Down - Out Of Line

I’ll say this right out of the gate. The Wicked Lo-Down are not here to change your life.  But they are here to show you a rabble-rousing damn good time.  I mean shit, you’ve gotta love a band who take Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ and turn it into the kind of slurring, woozy, accusatory grind it was always meant to be.  Yes, you read that right.
The Wicked Lo-Down are based in New England, and to these ears their brand of Chicago blues is infused with a spirit similar to those other rock’n’rollin’ New Englanders the J.Geils Band, before they got all glossy with their 80s hit ‘Centerfold’.  As soon as they get let off the leash here, with ‘Kill Me Or Keep Me’, we’re talking about harp-wailing, guitar-jangling chugga-boogie, with some ear-bending blues guitar to get you on the edge of your seat.  And by the time you get
Paul Size and Nick David get wicked
to ‘Out Of Line’ itself, with its hard-charging, competing guitars over a crisp beat, your butt should be well and truly outta that seat.  With a clever bridge that they let loose a couple of times just because – well, why not? – and a rollicking guitar solo from the guesting Mike Zito, it packs a fair amount of goodies into less than four minutes.
The tunes are good too.‘Marchin’ On’ finds David squawking away enthusiastically that “Nobody gets out alive, keep marchin’ on” over churning guitar from Paul Size and his six-string buddy Jeff Berg, amid the emphatic, solid but swinging rhythm section of Brad Hallen on bass and drummer Nick Toscano - who also likes to give a cymbal a good whack on a regular basis. Meanwhile ‘Action Woman’ is driving, pounding and urgent, with David making it damn clear he wants an “action woman, a satisfaction woman” as if when the Stones sang “I can’t get no satisfaction” they didn’t have a goddamn clue what desperation was.
Paul Size – where have I heard that name before?  Oh yeah, he played with those cult blues heroes The Red Devils.  And so here we have ‘The Wildest One (Lester’s Boogie)’, a fitting tribute to the Devils’ wild man singer and harp player Lester Butler. It’s nagging, insistent and raucous, with singer Nick David referencing Red Devils song titles in a bullet mic-distorted vocal, and blasting out a howling harp solo, natch.
They dial things down in the middle, with the slow blues of ‘If I’, which has a touch of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ about it, but with a mood that’s guitar-twinkling lonesome rather than possessive. ‘Dime Store Darling’ is easy-going and melodic in a Dave Edmunds and Rockpile kinda way, with a nifty twiddly turnaround and a catchy as hell chorus. But the mid-paced ‘You Don’t Know Me’ is a slice of less juicy fat that could have been trimmed.
They get back on track down the straight though. ‘Vanna Be’ is a sock-it-to-ya rock’n’rolling instrumental, with wasp-in-a-jar buzzing guitar from Size, and Hallen’s bass bopping like a noddy dog on speed.  ‘Put Up With You’ is from a different bucket of blues, with its low-twanging guitar and pattering rhythm, while David groans away about having discovered that “I don’t have to put up with you” in dark and bitter tones that suggests you shouldn’t believe a word of it. Then closing track ‘I Just Can’t Make It’ is an affectionate slap around the chops to say good night - hard-riffing and slide-scything, over clattering drums and pneumatic drill bass.
The Wicked Lo-Down sound like the house band in some club where the walls are sweating and you’re part of a well-oiled crowd that’s bouncing to some good rockin’ tonite. They may not be world-beaters, but you’re still going to pick up a copy of Out Of Line at the merch stall on the way out. Damn right you are.
Out Of Line
 is out now on Gulf Coast Records.

No comments:

Post a Comment