Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Night Horse - Perdition Hymns
It’s hard to make 70s-style hard rock sound new anymore. It’s been around the block so damn many times, not only in the Me Decade but even now – just check your average underground rock club. That’s not to say a lot of the revivalist acts aren’t good– just that they have a distinctly retro whiff coming off of them, making them mostly guilty pleasures. But there are some bands who play the style not as a retreat from or reaction to any perceived flaws in modern music, but just because for them it’s timeless and they dig it.
Night Norse is one of those bands. While the L.A. quintet draws on familiar sources – Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Faces – for the stew served on Perdition Hymns, it tastes remarkably fresh. That’s partly because, like its Midwestern contemporary Five Horse Johnson, the band incorporates the blues without really being a blues band – it understands the essence without feeling the need to prove its prowess. (Cf. Same Old Blues, a ballad that has more in common with Charles Brown than the Allman Bros.) It’s also partly because of things like the psychedelic guitar intro of Hard to Bear or the charisma of vocalist Sam James Velde. Mainly, though, it’s because the Horse means it. The band writes robust songs a la Angel Eyes, Shake Your Blues and Black Clouds (the soulful ballad the Black Crowes have trying to create for two decades) and plays ‘em with neither irony nor melodrama. Perdition Hymns is the kind of meat and potatoes rock & roll that reminds you why such simple, wholesome fare is so nutritious in the first place.
- Michael Toland