Norman Silver and the Gold/The Hoolits - Dead Mans Vigilance - Alex Main

Norman Silver and the Gold are back, and this time they are, in colloquial terms, team handed, as the equally wonderful Hoolits have joined them to air some new material on the very limited 10” split entitled ‘Dead Mans Vigilance’.

With two tracks apiece they kick off with NS&TG shaking the dust off from where they left us back in 2013 with their ‘War Memoirs’ album with the aurally schizophrenic ‘Ballet of Chestnuts’.

Nick Cave influences loom and cast a shadow that the lends some darkness to what sounds like a collision between the land and the sea as a country twang crashes headlong into wrestling match with a drunken sea shanty vibe before ending up rolling about on the Russian steppes to push for a submission.

No ones can really claim to know who wins ultimately, but it’s an entertaining fight.
‘Apart from me’ follows, and is imbued with a more traditional country sound, but there’s no sheen.
No sheen at all.

Instead it’s raw and more suited to being sung after a few bottles have been emptied and the night gets to the maudlin stage.
In that sense it is hypnotically Scottish in its delivery.
We do maudlin so bloody well; especially drink induced sentimentality, as it’s about the only time a real Scotsman can reveal some emotion.
And this song captures that moment that only exists in the early hours, just prior to slipping into unconsciousness, and drags it into the light.
To get it down in the studio is about as rare as capturing a photograph of the migrating haggi during their breeding season.

Meanwhile The Hoolits are more Irish/Celt folk based and provide the perfect accompaniment to a night in a bar where the Guinness flows and the blarney stone is kissed as often as the girls are.

‘On the road’ is a jangling anthem that has a singalong chorus that deserves to be delivered back to the band by a Barrowlands crowd.
Like a cross between The Humpff Family and the Tansads, the Hoolits are the sort of band that can get a party started.
On ‘San Francisco’ the mandolin strings are given a solid work out and in a live setting could encourage a bout of jigs and reels that would have the floor shaking in appreciation.

Hopefully they will both be bringing their collective backsides to the west coast for a party sooner rather than later as we want a bit of this in the live setting.

You can file this away under ‘bloody good stuff’.