Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Album Review: Mississippi Witch - Black Gamble


2008: Year of the Witch? Quite possibly.

Continuing on with our love of bands with American transplants, I’d like you to meet Oli Walker and Dan Danby, otherwise known as Mississippi Witch. I’ve already fallen head over heels for them, and now it’s your turn. The duo’s long and winding road brought them from Mississippi (Walker) and New Mexico (Danby) many thousands of miles to London, and thence to Bristol. Mississippi Witch has proven a reasonably apt moniker, as there is something spellbinding in the music. Formed in 2005, there’s a distinct 1970s vintage to their sound; heavy, heady swoons of unadulterated bluesy Southern rock with a dash of desert mysticism filtered through the misty rain and refined antiquity of London Town. Walker’s vocals and guitar bombast wouldn’t sound out of place on the mid-70s albums of many a great Southern rock band, and Danby bangs the drums with such abandon that it could be considered a minor miracle he doesn’t destroy his kit each time he plays.

Black Gamble is a monster of a debut album, and will most certainly get the blood pumping. It begins with the towering inferno otherwise known as “Just for Roosevelt,” all grit and grime resplendent with some of the dirtiest guitar riffage you’re likely to hear all year. “Alligator Mechanics” showcase some nasty banjo playing, with Walker’s voice taking an exaggerated, molasses-like tone. The title track, “Black Gamble,” shows where some English punk has seeped in to the Witch sound, with ferociously fraught guitars and a break-neck pace to oblivion. The dozen tracks are all so glutted and teeming with noise that at times it’s hard to imagine that there are only two people making such a racket.

The bottom line? This album is staggeringly good, and 2008 could be annus mirabilis for these wandering, transplanted souls of Mississippi Witch. After a few listens to Black Gamble, you’ll join me in expecting big things from Misters Walker and Danby. Head over to their website to listen to some album tracks (and then purchase it, naturally).

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