lood and swill, whiskey and knives, Big John Bates certainly knows how to put a guy in the mood for some trouble. Backwoods punk with a sinister edge is what defines The Headless Fowl, a compilation, 13 tracks to be exact, of Big John Bates’ favorite 2012 releases, including a blistering rendition of the classic "Rawhide."
Big John Bates himself is on guitar, while Brandy Bones controls the upright bass, which deepens the music, and cello. Both sing, and both couldn't be more different. Big John Bates’ raspy growl more or less spits in your face while Bones' muddy contralto drowns her subject matter in woe. Both are righteous accompaniments to the music. Timothy Hagberg and JT Massacre keep things riotous on percussion, and there are some more players on more instruments in the cast of The Headless Fowl.
The brand of music generally falls in the punk category, but there is more, so much more, going on in the crazy collective conscious that is Big John Bates. The galloping melody underscoring the bluesy guitar work in "Hellfire Remedy," the two-note woe that leads in Bones' vocals on "Scarecrow Close" before a high-pitched riff allows Big John Bates to do his own thing, and the vaudevillian chorus on "Glossilalia." The rhythms sound simple, though there is much variation around the album, but thanks to the varied instrumentation that fills the tracks open spaces, there is never a dull moment.
Tempo changes are also a definitive feature on the album. These guys can go fast (again, "Rawhide," WHOO), medium, slow, and sometimes all three in the same song. "Battered Bones" is a particularly good example, with the accordion bridging and then becoming part of the changing speeds in the song. "Taste the Barrel," by contrast, slowly builds its noise with a dobro guitar (at least I think that's what it is, sounds like a banjo) while letting Bones do her thing. It's one of the best songs on the album, and also the slowest. Percussion is also a powerful weapon Big John Bates employs, vying for attention with the blues-heavy guitar work like on "Circadian Rhythm" (which really goes through several rhythmic changes).
There's no particularly weak…well, anything about this album. Production and mixing are tops, and everything else I've already said. This is an aggressive, slightly psychotic hybrid of genres, born from the womb of punk.
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