Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hillstomp - Darker the Night

Darker the Night
In Music We Trust

Few bands are as evocatively named as Portland duo Hillstomp. You want backwoods hillbilly raveups? You got it – check Banjo Song #s1 & 2, Old Plank Road and Cold Dark Woods. Or would you prefer juke joint blues stomps? You get those, too – cf. S.I.R., Up Here and Cardiac Arrest in D. You also get a nimble banjo instrumental (Blue Tick), an earnestly performed folk tune (Crawdad Hole), a percussion-driven field chant (Hammer Ring) and bluesy gospel (the title track). If there’s American music made before major labels swooped in, packaged and marketed the shit out of it, Hillstomp is into it. Make no mistake, though – this is no nostalgia act. Guitarist Henry Christian and drummer John Johnson don’t pretend they’re black or Appalachian natives – they just treat the music with the respect a timeless sound deserves, whether they’re kicking out originals or classics like Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Got to Move.” Raw but ramshackle, faithful to the spirit of its inspirations but not contrived or affected, Hillstomp uses old-time, pre-rock & roll music to rock your fucking face off. Awesome.

- Michael Toland

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