Monday, 10 March 2008

CD Review -- Black River Bluesman & The Croaking Lizard

Rat Bone

By M.D. Spenser

This CD attempts to sound raw and unpolished but winds up sounding dreary and uninteresting.

It’s a slow-motion distortion-drenched collection of bass-heavy songs so similar you wonder why the band bothered to stop playing in between.

The Black River Bluesman himself, Jukka Juhola, wrote all of them. They have names like the title cut, ‘Rat Bone’, and lyrics like, “Rat bone, rat bone, rat bone, rat bone”.

Juhola has apparently been playing since the 1970s without making much of an impression, though the band’s web site does feature a rapturous article from the Himalayan Times.

Juhola is assisted by three fellow Finns; he plays guitar and sings, while the other band members add drums, harmonica and baritone guitar.

The band says it was influenced by rough, raw Mississippi hill country bluesmen, along with Jim Morrison and Black Sabbath.

The songs are noisy and droning, with lots of growling for vocals. But instead of achieving the honest, hypnotic sound to which the band aspires, the songs are loud yet slow-paced and plodding, and they have so much distortion as to make them at times nearly atonal.

There is some relief: In ‘You Can’t Sit Here’, the tempo moves more briskly, bringing the listener briefly back to life.

Maybe it’s the influence of the long, dark Finnish winters, but by and large this album is so dismal it makes you want to jump out a window.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"(...)the band’s web site does feature a rapturous article from the Himalayan Times."

They've also been widely covered by Blues Matters! and Jefferson Blues Magazine, both Keeping The Blues Alive Award -winning publications.