Massy Ferguson – Joe’s Meat & Grocery
Seattle’s Massy Ferguson delivers a sixth album with a deeper dive into their rock & roll roots. “Miles Away,” opens with the thunderous bass guitar of lead vocalist (Ethan Anderson – also flute), piano by Fred Slater, & guitar/vocals/harmonica by Adam Monda. It’s a kick-ass melody on “Miles Away,” with the expressive-aggression vocally of Jason & the Scorchers.
Musically they also suggest Big Back 40 (“Blood”), Mark Germino (“Rank & File”) & bands such as that. Massy is a tight outfit. Songs spun from small-town experiences from childhood & adulthood, big city treks, & the long miles between apple pie & a cheap beer.
Bottom line is that this band is both a convincingly polished ensemble that didn’t sacrifice their bar-band creds. The vocals have muscle & songs like “Save What Couldn’t Be Saved,” are penetrating.
Joe’s Meat & Grocery (Drops Feb 4–North & Left) is a real store – but the LP is 12-distinctive songs that don’t rock too hard, but they’ll carry you. Years ago, bands like Eddie & the Tide & John Cafferty (a Springsteen knock-off) shaped similar songs but the Massy sound is more rooted in real life, the experiences & living.
The sharp musicianship that’s added is from David Goedde & Steve Gale, drummers who individually lay down pounding aggressive beats. The songs feature also: Darren Loucas (dobro), Iain Sloan (pedal steel), Ken Stringfellow (vocals/guitar/percussion/keys) & Kelly Van camp (harmonica).
“Backspin,” has a thunderous vintage rock & roll approach with contributions that percolate — most notably the thick lay down by the bass & drums. Quite indelibly cool.
Wisely, after the pounding “Backspin,” the band shifts back to an Eddie & the Tide type melodic ballad. “Off To See Rose,” has the drums painted in long strokes. Good showcase though I don’t see or hear the Springsteen comparisons. Anderson’s voice isn’t in that NJ growl arena. He doesn’t spew lyrics about factories, candy apple Lolita’s, Grapes of Wrath & Asbury Park – which is a long way from the Pacific Northwest. There’s Eddie & the Cruisers (Beaver Brown) in his forte, some Jason & The Scorchers & Del-Lords in his attitude.
“Sister Roll Up,” is a great workout while “The Hard Six,” is one of the best rockers I’ve heard in years. You’ll need a fire extinguisher after this plays.
The LP’s definitely based on blue-collar sensibilities. I like the band’s simplicity – none of the songs are overdone. There are no novellas, political suggestions, just lyrical reporting. The music is layered & played with enthusiasm. At times Massy Ferguson (also known as a Georgia-based company that competes with John Deere tractors) sounds like a great dance band. Their presentation will appeal to many ears.
They have found their niche & it works well for them. I hope they do more.
B&W Photo by: Rich Zollner. The 41-minute CD is available @ https://www.massyfergusonband.com/