When you’ve made most of your reputation as a live act, it’s a massive blow when a global pandemic dictates that you can’t go out and deliver riffs to the masses. This less than ideal situation drove 20 Watt Tombstone back into the studio at the end of 2020, breaking a five year silence of recorded work. While the results aren’t exactly plentiful, they’re more than welcome, since this pair of recordings reacquaint listeners with their no-nonsense, self-described “death blues” sound and of their chief influences. ‘Year of The Jackalope’ brings together a pair of cover tunes delivered in dirty and typical 20 Watt style, acting as both a welcome return for fans and a brilliant introduction for others.
Brass Owl unleashed their self-titled debut album in the summer of 2018. While that record was loaded with great riffs and showed promise, it was also fatally flawed. More than great riffs are needed to create great songs and their song writing wasn’t always the most memorable. Also, in frontman Brian Tarter, the band seemed to be hampered by a vocalist who often…overstretched himself.
Unfortunately, since Tarter also supplies those great guitar riffs and actually represents fifty percent of the band on 2020’s ‘State of Mind’, Brass Owl are sort of stuck with him. As a result, it is another album where a massive amount of promise is evident, but the genuine quality doesn’t always come through.
Not to be confused with the Hong Kong rap artist who released his fourth album ‘2019’ at the beginning of 2020, this Little Albert is a project helmed by Albert Piccolo, a musician best known for fronting Italian doom metal act Messa. Albert takes a sidestep from the heaviness for his first recording as “Little Albert”, choosing instead to apply lots of dark and fuzzy guitar to six pieces of dirty blues music.
Released over three years after the band’s formation, Big River’s debut album was a long time coming. Between 2016 and 2019, the band spent what seemed to be an eternity playing small venues on the UK’s south coast. The constant live work made sense, no matter how small a venue; there’s no point in spending money on recording before there’s an audience. Having been guitarist with several grassroots rock acts before Big River were even a twinkle of an idea, that’s something that band founder Damo Fawsett knows only too well. Three years of gigging eventually paid off, though, when in 2019 Big River scored support slots with both John Corabi (ex-The Scream/Union/Motley Crue) and Marco Mendoza (Dead Daisies/Black Star Riders).
Krissy Matthews sounds like a man who’s always had an old soul. His vocals might never have shown the deceptive rasp of Johnny Lang, but musically, his 2015 album ‘Scenes From A Moving Window’ showcased musical influences that far pre-dated his twenty three years on the planet. More impressively, it was his fifth album… By the time of his sixth album’s birth, he still hadn’t reached the grand old age of thirty, but 2019’s ‘Monster In Me’ continues his tradition of delivering a pot pourri of blues, funk and occasional hard rock with all of the confidence of a man who’d been recording for decades.