“Drifting between the likes of The Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang,” says the sheet that comes with the review copy. Well… maybe… Avon roots rock, with nods to folk, country and blues would be closer, a degree of finesse as well as a line up expanded to the size of your local rugby team! Brass, recorders and keyboards fill in and around the expected Celtic punk fiddle, banjo, guitar and rhythm section. No rough cut copyists here.
Instead they write all their own numbers, many based on historical events or legend, each with a melodic punch or lilt and not one whiff of parochialism. Colin Batchelor is the man with the pen, he also sings and strums the acoustic guitar, but backed up by Ian Burton on electric lead this band can crunch and crash around. It’s all in contrast to the softer, more obviously jiggy instruments, particularly the recorder of Sharon Eastwood although she makes sure that’s up front on some of the more rolling takes.
‘Cut ‘Em Down,’ is a rabble rouser, whilst ‘The One,’ sways and waltzes, ‘Long Way Home,’ draws on the Jarrow March as a focus and ‘If I Can’t Have A Drink,’ ironically during lockdown, is the album’s drunkard’s lullaby, which reveals the inner Shane MacGowan. It’s all very jolly and instantly appealing, if you like a reeling melody line and heft in your listening. If I’ve one small recommendation it’s that they try too hard to include everyone as much as they can. Sometimes less is more, they’ve yet to realise the economy within a larger line up. What to use when and allowing the band to develop more organically will lead to variety instrumentally which the audience will appreciate.
Obviously they’re wanting to break out of their own back yard, ‘ Rebels, Rogues & Regrets,’ will go a long way to establishing them in a wider context. I like the sound they make, give them time and they could produce something quite dandy for a sophomore effort. You can’t help but appreciate a band that play the wassail celebration held at their local pub anyway. Puts a smile on your face.