It’s a quiet evening during my brief dalliance with unemployment. I’d recently finished my write-up of The Graveltones’ mighty new album, Download is on the horizon and I’m cursing my mis-fortunes at missing out on this year’s Camden Rocks. Out of the blue, I’m contacted by Hywel Davies, lead singer of Dead Shed Jokers, asking if I could review their self-titled second album having seen my review of Love Lies Dying.
Generally, I turn these down nicely as it’s by bands too naff to be worth my time. A listen of the album and it grabbed my attention. This was good. Then, real life hit and I lost the time I promised to review it. My apologies, gents!
Imagine if Queens of the Stone Age never existed. Or they did and were from Wales. This is the outcome. There’s hints of Muse (when they were good) lying under the surface, too. Dead Shed Jokers is tough and gritty with a good helping of psychedelica and undertones of blues thrown in on songs like “A Cautionary Tale” for good measure. Despite all this, none of the influences are at odds, instead, coming together to make one cohesive package.
There’s not enough rock bands like this kicking about. Or maybe they are and Queens of the Stone Age just eclipsed everything at the time. And now that so many up and coming bands are focusing on massive riffs and grooves (nothing wrong with that), something like this can slink into the background and yet be noticed.
Riffs from Nicky Bryant and Kristian Evans come thick and fast, weaving around each other and holding back where necessary. They’re chunky and raw at times with “Dafydd’s Song” and “Delay the Morning”, the latter sounding almost feral with Davies’ howls.
Meanwhile, the Classic Rock-featured “Memoirs of Mr Bryant” is a complete summation of the band’s sound. Crunching guitars, grooves, rasping and howling vocals in equal measure. And let’s not forget the fact it sticks its face mere inches from your own.
“Exit Stage Left (Applause)” aptly closes the album. It’s brilliantly simplistic and the juxtaposition of it at the end of the album is a genius move to usher the listener to the end of the album. It’s a total curve ball compared to the rest of the album but it nestles in there so well it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. From the piano, to Davies’ vocals to the title of the track, it reminds me of Billy Joel (don’t laugh, I know a few rockers who’d happily see him, myself included).
Despite earlier comparisons to other bands with their own unique sound, they only sit in the background as influences. There’s no emulation. Instead they opt for a sound uniquely their own which comes with its own set of pros and cons. They set out their stall and carve their own niche but it then makes recommending to friends all that much harder as there’s nothing for them to fall in line with. It’s definitely an album that will either click or not. For me, happily, it has.
Dead Shed Jokers have a brilliant album here. It’s something different from the norm and sure of itself. With band members departing, it’ll be an interesting time for the band and any future material is sure to sound markedly different. That said, this will sate the thirst.