Gasfoodlodging with their debut album "Blue Collar Rain" are clearly hoping to find themselves in that lucky 1%. At the forefront is Dave Griffiths, the songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of the band who interestingly plays keyboard on some of the tracks and was also involved in some of it's production. This is not a lazy guy we have here.
This LP dips in and out of some great musical stylings and textures, from 60's hippy trippy fun of "Banging Drum" which contains a somewhat psychedelia feel with it's swirling rhythmic 60's "leslie speaker" guitar effect through to great ballads like "Wherever" where Griffiths's lyrics really do shine. "From the city and all this neon, from the concrete down to the sea" "from the length of this country, from the sleepy towns to the loud" as he describes the unknown whereabouts of someone precious that has been lost. There are some lovely guitar textures on this track, from the progressive rock feel of the middle lead part section through to the outro itself.
"Corporate Disease" delivers a dose of punk pop. Simplistic lyrics of corporate greed and working class strife would echo many people's opinion on the outrageous class system we live in and for that reason is very apt in 2017. Griffiths delivers yet another earnest vocal and the whole song fuses together really well. A great track with commercial appeal that could sit perfectly on any TV or Film soundtrack that deals with corporate greed and control. The 2011 Kevin Spacey Film, "Margin Call" for example.
The playlist then heads back to the musical style of the opening track with the groove laden "Under the Texas Sun" It tell the listener a tale of two high school girlfriends who fall off the beaten path and end up being involved in a murder in the hot and sultry state of Texas. I'm not sure whether this song is based on true events or not, but either way Griffiths seems to be definitely having fun during it and it shows. Some great layering of guitars really adds a nice touch.
Following on next is the slow indie rock of "Play it from the Heart" that is probably the most commercially appealing track on the LP after "Corporate Disease". Griffiths is a fan of the late American comedian Bill Hicks and on this track he waste's no time in echoing Hick's opinion on the music business. "I've had enough of Taylor Swift and those same old romantic hits" sings Griffiths on the opening line through to "I just like my music played from the heart, after all that's the most important part". During the final couple of minutes Griffiths brings his fine guitar playing to the forefront as the song dramatically comes to its close.
"We've done alright" enters the playlist frame with it's country rock feel next. Griffiths's choice of guitar chords on this one are wonderful as he leads the bass and drums around from pillar to post musically. The feel good factor of the lyrics are great too "Like a big truck that needs to turn around, I may need to go to some other town, but if there's you and there's me we will be alright". Simple lyrics yet great lyrics for a country rock song like this. I think Griffiths has the mindset of why over complicate things when there's no need to and this mentality most certainly works on his songwriting.
From cowboy boots to the pimp look of the 70's is the next track on the agenda as the funky one chord rap melody of "Another Day Gone" kicks in. Griffiths leads the listener through a list of events covering the period of 24hrs but with the most important part of the day being "Guitar Time!" Some great humor is on offer here as well "My neighbour comes he's a handsome guy, he's always got a girl that stays at night, I hear that bed go bang bang bang as he plays her songs by the Wu Tang Clan" (The Wu Tang Clan being a hip hop collective from New York if you didn't know who they were!).
Other tracks include some good old fashioned rock & roll on "Daniella Delray" which appears to be a story of a sex obsessed office girl who goes through men like lawyers go through paperwork. Griffiths is clearly in Keith Richards territory on his rhythm playing and he also plays a wonderful rockabilly lead guitar break that reminded me of Brian Setzer of The Stray Cats. Not wishing to add negativity towards the rhythm section, that is steady for the most part, but it's the guitar work of Griffiths that really stands out on the album as a whole. He manages to fill gaps and adds great lines of expression throughout.
Further down the running order of songs we're presented with "Solitudeville" that covers the topic of loneliness and how destructive it can be. This is my favorite track off the LP. I could hear the late great Johnny Cash singing this. The mood is set with a slow tempo country theme as haunting reversed guitar lines shimmer over the infectious piano lines. Then the lyrics of Griffiths kick in, "Have you got a whole load of friends, then you're luckier than I, I'm the shadow that lays in this place from morning to noon to the night. Loneliness is a dangerous thing, a serial killer from inside, I wish you luck I truly do, you wouldn't want this in your life". This won't be everybody's favorite track due to it's subject matter and downbeat musical tone. To compliment the downbeat theme Griffiths plays some great lead guitar riffing once again. You can feel the sadness cut through on every note he plays.
"Blue Collar Rain" does not contain professional industry standard production, unsigned bands can rarely afford that luxury. But personally I didn't care one little bit by it's absence. Call me old fashioned, but if I like a song then I like it, whether it's been produced in a kitchen or a high end recording studio, it makes no difference to me whatsoever. "Blue Collar Rain" is a very impressive LP of original songs that contain some splendid songwriting touches. The dedication and persistence that Griffiths clearly applies to his musical pursuits, should in a ideal musical world be rewarded. I hope this is one success story I get to hear about.
Matt Hayes. © 2017
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