Andrew Browning & the 9 Pound Hammers – The Midnight-Desert-Talk-Radio
This 8-song, 33-minute independent collection was produced by Social Distortion’s Derek O’Brien set for November 4 release. It’s the band’s 2nd CD & it has quite a lift. “Menthol Cigarettes,” is a jambalaya of an arrangement with its upbeat skidding & wordy lyrics but quite effective melodic charm that sparkles from Ilya Portnov’s harmonica. The song delivers a choppy exciting lead guitar by Phillip Alan Smith & in a word – it’s different. It has oompah-pah in quantity & it has plenty of sparks added.
I won’t go as far as to suggest it’s quirky because it’s actually performed straight-ahead rock & done with lots of enthusiasm & grit. These people are not slackers either since cut 2 continues the romp with high-octane – “Goddamn Girl,” has that 50s stride piano style with fiery bass & drum beat. While it has a definitive L.A. rock smoke spewing from its musical chimney Ilya was born & raised in Moscow, but he met Legba at the crossroads & plays with a demon’s grin.
Smith is an Oklahoma high-lonesome guitar string bender. Along with them are Lelah Simon on bottom-feeding bass from Colorado & producer Derek O’Brien (drums) from California who’s punk rock infused. A unique band with a dynamic to their sound with guest Carey Frank — Wurlitzer/B3.
“The Girl & the Dandelion,” has a Neil Young edge not merely suggested, but expertly carried out on Midnight-Desert-Talk-Radio (Drops Nov 4-Independent). Actually, a nicely conceived concept of music. Andrew Browning puts on a raw display with his authentic honky-tonk vocal that he uses with expertise. Accentuating words, dragging vowels, exaggerating lines & just being equally good at singing as entertaining.
Each tune has its weight but the title track “The Midnight-Desert-Talk-Radio,” is the killer, as is “Thunderhead.” On “Midnight,” Browning is in command & with a colorful female vocal (Mollie Greenspan) recalls the magic that was performed by Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie (Shirley Manson) who also had this kind of showcase. These are dynamic songs played with gusto & rock ‘n roll soul. It has a ghostly creepiness that’s attractive — think — Los Lobos, Tito & Tarantula, & Big Back Forty (“Blood”) & the like.
The band is quite exciting & probably incendiary live. Highlights – “The Midnight Desert Talk Radio,” “Menthol Cigarettes,” “Goddamn Girl,” “The Girl & the Dandelion,” “Family Man,” & “Thunderhead.”
Color photo courtesy of the band website. CD @ https://andrewbrowning.net/