Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chicken Snake - Unholy Rollers

Not sure when I first hear or heard of Chicken Snake, but I believe it was through mutual friends on
Facebook (which right there means that FB is alright by me!). This New Orleans combo includes husband'n'wife team Pauline and Jerry Teel (both sing, Pauline does percussion, Jerry - guitar, harp, bass, organ) along with guitarist Josh Lee Hooker and Jessica Melain on minimalistic drums. Their sound is swampy, voodoo-y blues with an edge - kinda like a mix of Junior Kimbrough and the Cramps - with their own twists'n'turns mixed in.

This is their latest release (I believe that they have three total) and here they thank Baron Samedi and Papa Legba, so you have no doubts where they're coming from. Right from the start, with "Yer Poison", the sound is hypnotic, with a cool groove, nice organ, and amazing sounding guitars (they got the old blues tones down) along with super harmonies. They do a drivin', poundin' take on "Don't Let the Devil Ride" (which my band, the Swamp Gospel, used to do, albeit quite differently), then a slower, swampy blues called "Bad Blood Blues", with some fine, atmospheric slide guitar (and ghostly sound effects) and a heartbeat pulse kickin' it along. Man, this stuff is so damn good and so hard to effectively put into words - the sound isn't like anyone else I know of these days. Another simple chord progression and infectious drum rhythm propels a cover, "Cowgirl Blues" (I'm not familiar with the original) and then they add some fierce, chainsaw fuzz for dynamics on "Empty Box" that works around a cool, cleaner guitar lick, not unlike the Cramps did, though, as I said, this is their own sound.

Side two opens with another minimal guitar riff, a wicked scream, some vicious fuzz (a bluesier Velvet Underground or something) and a monster tune, "Ain't No Liar", that is followed by "Evermore", with more ultra-hip, big-hollow-body guitars working off of each other while the Teels continue with their interlocking vocal harmonies (this ain't pretty pop here, but blends wonderfully) and they trip ya up with some rhythmic changes. The stompin' "Nothin' Ain't Right" has some fine Lou-Reed-meets-Dave-Davies guitar leads, while the whole thing has a kinda Velvet-feel again - now that I think about it, the guitar tones are similar to early Lou/Sterling and the drums aren't far off from Mo. T'ain't nothin' wrong with any of that, though! The voodoo-themed "Crazy Mama" continues in this vein, while "Wrongheaded Man" is driven by a hip, descending slide guitar and some howlin' blues harp. "Nightmare Pt. 2" puts all of their elements together for another stunner while the closer, "Daddy's Gone Blues" is a slower, moodier piece with more haunting sounds in the background.

Look, I know that I rant'n'rave about a lot of different stuff - I just love music, and enjoy a wide variety - but if you're looking for modern, swampy blues, this is a good as it gets, and you should gets this!