FROM THE BESTIARY TO THE LEATHERING ROOM 12”– Roadtracks Magazine, Desert Rock Edition (DE, June 2015)
The 10 tracks of “From The Bestiary To The Leathering Room” find Big John Bates in the world of rock’n’roll, country, gothic, punk rock and blues they call “Americana Noir”. Most of the album was recorded in Vancouver onboard the “Caleuche”, named after a mythical ghost ship. Of course the bottom line is what gets in your ears. Dominating the rhythmic, earthy sound is John’s multifaceted Gretsch guitar playing and Brandy’s dynamic upright bass. Both alternate on lead vocals, Bates with his dark, whisky-tanned voice while his female counterpart Brandy sings in a voice that reminds me of an infernal fusion of Patti Smith and Siouxsie Sioux.
BLACK TIMBER BITTER ROOT 7”- Dynamite Magazine (DE, Sept 2014)
Rookie Records released two brand-new songs on color, hand-pressed vinyl for the “Black Timber” 7″. On the track “Black Timber” Big John Bates sings about the passing of time, a beautiful song with the usual high quality we expect of him. On “Bitterroot” Brandy Bones Bates uses her vocal diversity to sing about life as an outsider. Brandy’s voice is somewhere between fragility and melancholy; an outsider expressing those feelings perfectly with tight, powerful vocals. Good songs, good musicians and beautiful presentation.
BATTERED BONES 12” LP – Hooked On Music (DE, Sept 2012)
“Battered Bones is a wonderful mix of roots rock, Americana, blues and an invigorating syringe of rock’n’roll. Songs like Wide Open Blues, the purely instrumental Battered Bones, Circadian Rhythm and Glossilalia have a delicious sound, like whiskey rinsing out a dusty throat on an abandoned highway. Adding distorted guitars to the dark-.‐colored roots sound completes this cinematic head-.‐trip to remote corners of the American West, to abandoned dives and tiny graveyards along the way. The only drawback of this fascinating disc is that it ends too soon.
HEADLESS FOWL 12” EP – Americana UK (UK, Sept 2012)
Setting the tone is the instrumental opener “Amerkin” … it moves from mournful bass with subdued drums and spectral guitar to a powerhouse of railroad drumming and blood curdling yells. Musically it’s a blend of Jack White style blues, Calliope organ (cello), thumping drums and banshee wails. It’s hypnotic and intriguing but be careful – the left hand may be beckoning – but the hand hidden behind the back is holding that knife, Jack. It may only last a whisker over eighteen minutes but they are eighteen unforgettable minutes – raw and knowing and powerful and all worth hearing.