Before we get onto Campbell's review below, I just wanted to join in a bit with regards to the gig Big Hogg played in our music shop last month, along with the hugely talented Mike Hastings as support. Bloody hell, if that is the quality of live events we manage to get into the shop from now on thenI will die a happy man, a very drunk happy man. Mike Hastings was one of the more unusual guitar maestros that I think I have ever seen. He plays sounds that probably shouldn't work in any sane world, but by god he makes it work. This guy did stuff with a guitar that no guitar has any right doing, and you should be ashamed you weren't here to hear him do it. Big Hogg were up right after him, and the fact that this band have never left my top five local(ish) acts that you absolutely need to see live was only reinforced on the night. The vocal delivery is nothing short of sublime and the music that accompanied it.. nothing short of fantastic. I could roll out the plaudits for Big Hogg every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but the fact of the matter remains, you really need to see them, and hear them play live to truly appreciate them in all their devilish musical glory.
Anyway, enough of my chat, let's get back to the new album review;
Big Hogg are one of our favourite bands at NHC Music, so the release of their new album 'Gargoyles' is something we were very much looking foward to, and I have to say I'm glad I landed the review for this one. Following on from their superb debut, this ploughs a similar furrow. It may seem strange to say this, but it is rather refreshing to see a band wear their influences from the late 60's / early 70's so firmly up front. This album could as easily have been recorded in 1972 as today, yet it sounds far from dated in any respect.
Much of the album could be the soundtrack to a movie set in 'swinging London' of that period. Musically it is a mixing pot of early 70's psychedelic/jazz/folk/prog rock, with the six piece band using flute, trombone and trumpet as lead instruments as much as guitar. The vocal harmonies are exquisite, evoking both 60's west coast Americana, and especially 'Canterbury scene' prog rock, a la Caravan, Camel and Soft Machine.
It's difficult to pick a stand out track on an album of this consistent quality, but 'The Beast' is the one for me. The longest track on the album it is a dark, psychedelic work of genius. A typically stunning vocal from Sophie Sexon is backed by a horn and rhythm section that sounds like it walked straight out of the 1968 Chicago debut album sessions, from back in the days when those guys really pushed their musical boundaries. Justin Lumsden's guitar work is sublime, with riffing and soloing that any six stringer would be proud of.
Overall, this album builds on the strengths of the band's debut, and not so much lays to rest, but kicks the hell out of that old 'difficult second album' cliche. Gargoyles is a cracker, now go buy it and catch the official live launch gig on May 7th at Nice'n'Sleazy in Glasgow.