‘Slam The Door’, ‘Candy Snake’ &
9.8/10.0, 9.9/10.00 & 9.5/10.00
Our Mancunian Candidates proffer no brainwashing, occult or assassination fantasies. In a cold time, they are bringing a beautiful war to your doorstep.
Availability: All tracks available at: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/turrentine-jones/id496859281
Time for my bi-daily diatribe on the state of music, today…
I’ll make it brief, mind, less I be condemned to play the role of the old man bemoaning the state of the world, factually narrow-minded in his assumptions that things were better in ‘the good old days’. I can see where the largely-octogenarian patriots are coming from. Things were less stressful in the ’40s and ’50s, to be sure. However, there has been global warming since the dawn of time; major wars and economic catastrophes in abundance since then, too. The increase in population numbers is responsible for the acceleration of modern heartache. On the flip side, because of an increased populous, we have a wealth and variegated music scene; each participant proclaiming sternly and with diverse, and often divisive shades. For some beguiling reason it has been the stream of talent over the last few months that has captured my imagination, more so than at any other time during my tenure as a music lover. It is in the confines and broad streets of Manchester that has born forth the most virulent and pugnacious rebel-rousers. Something is happening in the Greater Manchester area, that is causing much ear-pricking and renewed consciousness amongst those attuned and educated. Today is no exception.
Special mention first goes to Turrentine Jones’s website. Social media can be a double-edge Excalibur when campaigning for followers. What the boys have done is to create a professional and engaging website that compels you straight away. It is informative, beautifully designed, and fascinatingly striking and appealing. From their site, I learnt that the trio consisting of guitar-vocal wizard Julian Neville; organist Thomas Scotson, and aptly-named percussion master Rich Watts. I was brought to their attention by a much-loved and wonderful Twitter friend, who expounded the virtues of the band, promising me that they would be something rather special. The band themselves claim to be influences and compared to The Doors, as well as that they “juxtapose the structural and chordal simplicity of ’50s and ’60s rock”. This concise and cerebral deliberation is apropos and I could not have said it better myself. I am here to try to do so, so onwards and upwards, friends. Before we do, it is worth noting that the band were put together with a freewheelin’ aesthete; the boys met, fell in love and got down to business with little regard to pre-conceived paths to Rome, or any needless sabre-rattling. They are the antithesis of an overtly cautious and chaste music scene, and are electioneering to win your hearts, minds and soul. They want to transcend the age barrier and get their music heard by an inter-generational audience. Through the inserting of tight, composed schematics, and a refreshing lack of caveats, they are not wearing the emporer’s new clothes; they are smart casual, and all the better for it.
The first track to my ears was ‘Slam The Door’. Perhaps with an ironic nod to the title, there is an influence of The Doors embedded within the intro. There is a gloriously galloping and jubilant organ passage. It is a little bit of Canned Heat’s ‘On The Road Again’, and a little bit of Morrison Hotel, The Doors. It is invigorating, and the drums slam with reverent alliteration and resonance. It is off to the races and puts the hairs on end before any vocal input. It is easy to see why T.V. shows and advertisers have knocked a path to the band’s door, as the song has a sound that is not commercial; it supersedes that, instead it is the most authentic evocation and replication of the glorious bonhomie and experimentation of the ’50s and ’60s. The intro dances and wander; it has a pioneering and buoyant abandon. When the vocal does arrive, I was aware of a few things. It has- despite the front-man being an Australian- northern tones. I could hear a bit of messieurs Gallagher and Brown to the elongation of the words and the juxtapositions inherent within the delivery. It is soft and cultured, yet has an amber hew. There is a little shade of Iggy Pop as well, but quite a bit of Lou Reed. I know the band are in awe of The Velvet Underground, and I can detect a note of influence in the vocal as well as some of the lyrics, too. “When I close my mouth/Right before you/Slam my door”, proceeds and perpetrates vivid scenes of disharmony and romantic misadventure and strife. There is a pleasing, Marc Bolan-esque lick of the lips when the word “baby” is delivered. Not to hark (on about) the herald angel sang, but Neville has the talent and authority to be seen as a worthy reincarnation of Morrison. He has the same lascivious Alpha Male stride, but also is playful, sensual and pure as well. He is his own Venn Diagram, and within the intersection, is this track. There are cautionary tales of “teenage revenge”, and the guys are surveying the scenes and putting the world to rights. The drums and organs purge and drive forward, electrifying the mood, as our hero holds the notes, belts with authority and gusto. Around the two-thirds mark, there is a bit of a cold shower; reigning in the chest-pumping rawness, and providing an unexpected mutation. The guitar does a quick jive and jump, as the vocals come back in; this time insurmountably cautious and studied. The percussive drive swings back in and we fade down, left exhilarated and, quite frankly knackered, with a post-coital smile on our tobacco-stained lips.
I spent about minutes prior to hitting ‘play’ on ‘Candy Snake’, wondering where they got that title from. Not sure I’d want to eat it or have it crawling up my toilet U-Bend. It has an adolescent cuteness, as well as a sugar-coated venom in its syllables. It sounds like the start of a 2-minute elevator pitch from Quentin Tarrantino. Would we be hearing a synopsis filled with guns, blood, tough chicks; or something more rom-com? It is certainly a song I could have seen on the soundtrack to Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction. It is allergic to glutton, and at the same time evolves and grows with every listen. There is quite, a, funkay (sic.) organ beat in the intro, that suggests scenes of envisages images of smoky streets, pimps with hoes, gangsters with hoes, and all manner of curiosity and homonyms. Before Pan the Satyr shakes his head with confusion, the voice enters. The ‘Candy Snake’ “tastes like poison”, and is a saint and sinner all at once. There is a bit of Peter Frampton wah-wah effects; muted in the background but teasing as it does. Julian is more reserved but also more playful so far. He gleefully over-pronounces certain syllables to add increase impact-fullness; he stands suited and booted, weaving some glorious guitar tones as he walks by. The organ and drums and predictably star-gazing and assured. The organ skates and shimmers, and our hero ‘ch-chookers’ rather Antipodean-like. Julian is down by the candy store, ringing the bell but told by the- I’d imagine grey-haired proprietor- he has to earn a right for those “candy treats”. The way the lyrics insert so many crystalline and wonderful mini-scenes in your brain is wonderful. The music mood is a potent anti-depressant, and above all is kick-ass, swaggering and a peerless slice of je ne sais quoi! The largely-musical mid-section provides a calm after and before the storm, and is an inspired decision. Lesser bands would employ musical diversions at the end of the track- aimlessly wandered until it fades; or deploy it at sporadic intervals. Both methods are okay in their way, but the length and positioning of the passage from the band gives the song a greater depth and intelligence. Instead there is vocal interjection, in the mould of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, before another terrific musical break brings us back down. I have heard ‘Candy Snake’ referred to (by Towers Music), as a “sexual blues cake”. Keeping with the food analogies, I think that is a good summation. The lyrics are witty and inspired by great literature- shades of Jack Kerouac and William S. Borroughs– with elements of the ‘Beat Generation’, co-mingling with witty bon mots and min-dramas. The vocal is again inspired and assured, but I feel it is the musical composition that shines. It is a close associate to the sexual blues revolution proponents, but not indebted to it. Instead it updates and modernises the template and through the usage of effective chord structures and stunningly orchestral intermissions, combined, creates a heady rush that will be hard to shake off!
I struggled to find a third song to review. Not for lack of choices: there are many, many great tracks left! ‘Della May’ is what I plumped for. I am not sure if there is an ancestral link with regards to the name, but it promises lines of romantic longing, and pining for an unobtainable sweetheart. There is a lovely little blues tinge to the guitar sound, at the start. It is the sort of melody that Jack White played with during De Stijl-era The White Stripes. Here the mood of White’s mandate is transposed. It is less Detroit-via-Holland, and more the 1960s-via-Manchester. There is some Jeff Buckley ‘Live at Sin-e’, guitar sound: there is a similar hushed reverence. As the organ pulls up there are scented smoke signals of The Rolling Stones and ’60s/’70s blues-funk. The sense of ensuing intrigue is pathological. (“We can close our eyes/And watch the sun turn blue“- see!). In contrast to the previous two track’s rather louche and energetic kick, there is a form of reciprocity in ‘Della May’. In every little isotope of heartfelt temperating and romanticism from our front-man, or Steely Dan-esuque weaving organ, there is conviction and purity. It is a gorgeous number, that I could see Dylan writing today. It would fit in, as well, during his ‘Time Out of Mind’/’Love and Theft’ regency. If he could write lines like: “Red butterfly/Tell me:/Do you wanna ride?” without questioning the age-appropriateness of the sentiment, is hard to say; but at the same time, it contains the right amount of soul and spirit to make him pick up pad and pen. Again- as with ‘Candy Snake’- we are treated to a much-needed organ donation. Here it whistles and hums with the wind in its hair, Highway 61 in its rear-view mirror, and an Amazonian muse fiddling with her shades on the passenger seat. There is an incidental quality to the Hammond organ; it lynch-pins and moves the story along with aplomb. And just as we are about to get sentimental and drift off, the song comes to and end, and wraps up proceedings with efficiency.
In a media scene where The Guardian can toss off a 5-line review for an entire album, without consideration for the fact that they get paid a butt-load to essentially summarise a band’s cannon of work; it is liberating not to be affiliated with them. Whether those chaps have a strict word limit or have better places to be, music like this deserves more than a fleeting glance. It requires investigation, analysis, and fond appreciation. Whether I have done the boys full justice, is up them, but feel that the words displayed here, are as true as possible, in every sense. They are a 3-piece but achieve the might and work ethic of a 5-piece. Modern artists like Beyonce– when she’s not rabbiting on about being an icon for female equality- is unaware she is a millionaire, married to a millionaire, who seems to be irony-proof and permanently dumbstruck. She’s not bloody Emmeline Pankhurst– she’s an above-average artist who is unaware that there is not gender inequality in music, and anything outside of her realm, she has no influence on, and has no business being involved with. I mention because the things Turrentine Jones profess to being: original, fresh, and better than their contemporaries, is not full of rhetoric or pretentiousness. They are genuine, and back up their words with results. They play instruments, they sing great songs, and they are not pantomime dames, thinking they are social innovators. They are a terrific band of tight-knit friends, who have a passion and great ear for terrific vote-winning music, that will sound be embedded in your brain, and will not shift.
If you haven’t heard of these guys- do so! They are the purveyors of a new wave of energetic and scintillating blues and ’50s and ’60s glory, and want you to listen up and support them. Nothing else. I have been blown away by their ambition, sound and quality, and one thing’s for sure…
… these chaps are going to be owning the rest of 2013.