It was like Christmas again at my house. Several packages of CDs arrived and instead of sifting through all of them to see what special goodies might await, I opened one at random and pulled out the first disc I found.
Today’s winner is the Waydown Wailers, a group from near the New York-Canadian border that have just released a new album, Backland Blues. The band is made up of two guitar playing brothers, David and Christian Parker, Conner Pelkey on bass, and Michael Scriminger on drums.
The album starts off with a good blues rocker, Back Door Woman Blues. It’s a tried and true blues trope and the guys work the well worked theme and get a song that makes the listener’s ears perk up. I like them already and want to see what else they are going to do.
The follow up with some heavy electrics on I Want Your Soul. For a bunch of guys from up north, they do a pretty good of recreating a full force version of that Southern Delta sound. It’s energetic and packed with power. If you like your blues on the heavy rock side, this one is for you.
The first cover on the album is Elmore James’ Done Somebody Wrong. They catch the spirit of the song without being a slavish imitation. So far, I get the feeling these guys are going to go their own way when it comes to interpretations. I’m not sure which of the Packers is playing lead on the song, but he does a heck of a job.
Another Bump In The Road is a great song with a strong shuffle beat and Scriminger’s driving drums taking the lead. There’s also some great piano work from Professor Louie (of The Crowmatix fame). It’s a great honkytonk style song that should make a grumpy man happy. Nice!
Still rocking, but at a more deliberate pace, No Mercy follows. It’s not a bad song, a little more rock than blues, but give the guys credit, they are not locking in to the same exact sound on each song – for example there’s a sweet guitar break that combines a little more of that Delta sound, and the Professor’s keyboards offer up a little gospel pie.
The second cover is that great rocker, Dizzy Miss Lizzy. Although written and recorded by Larry Williams in 1958, it’s the cover by The Beatles in 1965 that most people remember. That version relied heavily on overdubs whereas the original was more of a twelve-bar boogie. This version is sort of a cross with some heavy guitar resembling the Beatles version, even with some of the high pitched wails in the background. Not a bad cover, but not as good as some of the other songs on the album.
The Waydown Wailers get back to their originals with the next song, Every Passing Mile. This one has a nice driving beat and a completely different sound than any of the other songs on the album, and some excellent guitar work and vocal harmonies. Kind of laid back and mellow. They stay in the land of the mellow for the country tinged Somewhere In The Middle. With a title like that, you know this is not a song of revolution or even rocking the boat, but it is the middle path that will get you through life more peacefully.
The next song features some gravelly vocals, I’m On The Hunt. This one is pure attitude with a dangerous edge. The lyrics are fairly simple but they are sung over keys and heavy bass that drive the song home. They go backwoods country on the follow up number, State Of The Union – Remix, that again delivers a lot of attitude and it’s the complete opposite of Somewhere In The Middle. This one is all about taking action to take back the country.
The last song on the album is also their last cover, Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy’s Lover Of The Bayou. Originally performed by the Byrds and recently covered by Mudcrutch, the Waydown Wailers add their own juju to the song. It’s a decent cover although more for the Americana/Roots fans than blues fans.
I enjoyed listening to the Waydown Wailers very much and will be playing several of their songs on upcoming shows. Backland Blues is a solid addition to any blues lover’s library, especially those that like their blues with a side of rock. Be sure to look for them on their website where you can find out more about this release and their live shows. If you catch them on the road, be sure to drop me a line and tell me how you liked it.