Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Hopeless Jack and the Handsome Devil - Shallow Hearts - Shallow Graves

I saw this duo last week at the Dive Bar and was completely blown away by their high-energy, blues-
powered, explosive sound and set. While no recording can quite convey the mania of the live show, this record is a damn fine document.

Jack started out as a one-man-band-guitarist/drummer but added Peter (the "handsome devil") to make life easier and to expand his sound and show. This allows Jack more freedom to churn out the riffs as well as to frantically stalk the stage. Peter's wild drumming fits fantastically and the audio is so full that it's hard to believe that there are only two of them. But, on record, they do add some other friends on bass, organ and harmonica to round out the grooves at points in the proceedings.

This is down'n'dirty blues rock'n'roll, done as it should be - with originality and vision and terrific musicianship. Slide guitar abounds, giving it a different feel just from this aspect, as Pete pummels his kit. I do love the addition of Lyndsay Johnson's soaring background vocals on songs like "How High" and the dramatic, organ-drenched "Ashley's Song" - not unlike greatness like Merry Clayton on "Gimme Shelter". Though Jack himself has a fantastic whiskey'n'cigarette (though he does neither) growling voice and has no problem carrying things on his own.

These cats are absolutely one of my top finds of recent time - everything about them is top notch - love the songs, vocals, playing, dynamics, performance, energy - you name it, they got it! Check 'em out any time you can and be sure to pick this up if you love bluesy punk'n'roll.