It’s been a feast of local music recently at the Watusi Country Club and Fallout Shelter, and I’m finally going to get around to reviewing some of it.
Most recently it’s been the debut from Deeds, which is called The Evidence. After a dedicated few days on the ol’ stereo system it migrated to the car and I’ve been enjoying it there for a while now: it’s very good driving music.
And I don’t mean that in any negative way. I love Leonard Cohen, I love Gillian Welch, but both are crap driving music. Deeds, with their open honest classic rock/reggae sound, are great in the car.
First though, a quick gig. One for all those folk on the Katikati side of town, the unfortunates living between here and there who have very few music venues within easy reach. The good news is that Browny’s Café and Bar, on the corner of the State Highway and Lockington Road, which has recently changed owners, is restarting live music.
This Saturday Chill Factor will be playing there. The band, now a five piece with the addition of Hammond player Dennis Grant, are the house band for the monthly Blues Jams at Driver’s Bar and play a mix of blues, R&B and rockabilly. This Saturday, August 4, they play at Browny’s from 6-9pm.
And back to Deeds (whom I keep wanting to call “The Deeds”, but there’s no “the” there)...
The first thing that strikes you about The Evidence is the cover. It’s one of those covers that makes me long for the old days of vinyl when you could actually see an image that was a decent size. This comes from artist Jamie Harkin and hints back at the days of prog-rock cover art, the sort of thing Yes might have used. It’s a painting of the Mount and the Mount beach, engulfed in flames, cracked by earthquakes, nuclear explosions blooming, and a tsunami about to engulf it all (carrying the body of the Rena).
It is simultaneously alarming and hilariously over the top; you can see more of Jamie’s artwork on his Facebook page.
The band themselves have been assembled by Damon Innes, singer/songwriter and primary musician. He runs the Mount Mellick jam nights on Tuesday and knows a lot of great musicians to call. Here he unites with the rhythm section of Nick Ririnui (drums) and Adam Mani Sharplin (bass), with help on four tracks from Marcel Stannard’s guitar. There are brief keyboard appearances from Hani Totorewa (including some beautiful Hammond on ‘Doing What We’ve Always Done’) and Steve Dickinson. The rest is all Damo.
And very pleasant it is too. Damo has a sweet tenor lead voice and also sings great harmonises. MOR rock song ‘Stranded’, about the journey from playing in cover bands to being original, kicks things off and the album alternates between that style and various reggae grooves, from the slow-burn of ‘Doing What We’ve Always Done’ to the skanking ska of ‘Sweet Love’.
The latter ends with a long percussion outro, which possibly suffers from being too subtle in the mix. In fact there’s a lot of subtle stuff slipped in, most effective being the layered guitars on ‘Don’t Kick Me’ which threaten to launch into a Kings of Leon style rave up but ultimately remain as atmosphere. It’s only on hearing the humorously unfettered rant of a final track that you wonder whether some earlier songs may have been kept a little clean by the restrained production.
Lyrically things keep returning to current political themes of corporate greed and overconsumption of the world’s resources, though there are more personal songs too.
This is a solid first effort that highlights Damo’s catchy songwriting and fine voice. If occasionally it fails to catch the energy and excitement of the band live then it more than compensates with the solid musicianship of all involved. It’s certainly going to stay in my car awhile and will make good summer music for a drive round the Mount (before it is immolated in the cover art’s Armageddon).
At the moment you can buy The Evidence from Tracs on Devonport Road and it will soon be i-tunes and www.amplifier.co.nz.