(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Recording review - Scott Lucas & the Married Men, Blood Half Moon (2012)

Thoughtful arrangements as the music ranges from alt-country to heavy rock jams

Scott Lucas was half of the alternative rock duo Local H, whose Bound For the Floor was a staple in 1996. Despite their bare bones drum and guitar line up, Local H's hard punching songs captured a perfect sense of undirected anger and frustration.

On Blood Half Moon, Lucas seems determined to push that history aside and make grown up music. Like Roger Clyne after the Refreshments, Lucas expands beyond his simple rock chops to bring in alt-country and Americana elements. He still has a straight-ahead rock sensibility and fuzzed out edges, but his backing band, the Married Men add a lot of sonic detail that Local H never mustered. In particular, the pervasive violin flavors the whole album.

Blood Half Moon opens with an epic piece, Lover, The Lullaby. The moody intro evokes Enrico Morricone's Western work with a drone organ and a reverbed guitar melody accompanied by a mournful whistle and touch of violin. After the first verse, the music kicks in with a vengeance. Crunched rhythm, pounding drums, and fluid violin drive the song forward with a Western/Americana feel, like The Ballad of Serenity from Firefly.

The bridge shatters that mood by punching into an acid rock jam complete with psychedelic guitar shred. Even here, the violin hangs in, adding a banshee wail. The music finally drops back to recap the main theme before calling it quits.

This resolution sets up the beautiful, sparse intro to Blood Half Moons. Its pensive expectancy showcases Lucas' surprisingly lush voice. The U2 influence is strong, from the echoed vocal to the subtle tonal textures.

Musical shifts like this, along with much more thoughtful arrangements make Blood Half Moon a huge departure from Local H. Later songs range further afield. Old Worries wanders into Beat Farmers' alt-country territory while Out of the Boat starts with a reworking of the theme from You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (Righteous Brothers) but shows influences from the Indigo Girls and Roger Clyne.

While Scott Lucas uses his work with the Married Men to express some richer musical ideas, Local H is still active. They have a new album coming out soon, which I'm sure will hit their old sweet spot of cathartic and clever alt rock. My advice is to balance perspectives and get both albums.

Drop by the band's website to stream Blood Half Moons.

No comments:

Post a Comment