DEAD HORSE PROBLEM - Dead Horse Problem (Beast Records)
This French band plays sleazy rock blues with equal amounts of verve, guitar twang and blustery sax. They'd go over a treat at the dingiest holes-in-the-wall in Sydney, Melbourne or Manhattan, so it's no surprise that their stated influences include the Reigning Sound, Beasts of Bourbon, Beefheart and The Holy Soul.
Dead Horse Problem sound like a less funky James Chance with the Beasts sticking a barbecue fork up his skinny arse to turn him over and determine if he's done. That's a recommendation, by the way. A lot of the so-called No Wave bands of the '80s substituted atonal confrontation for songs (and I suppose I'm looking sideways at James there), but these guys have that shortcoming covered.
The sax, credited to the singularly-titled Pierrot, and its interplay with the twin-guitars of Denis and Regis is crucial to the band's sound. The temptation to put the sax too high in the mix has been wisely avoided. It's not so much muffled as sharing the soundscape. Vocalist Boogie adds that (oft-mentioned here) Gallic quality of burring his words which sounds very cool.
The song titles won't mean much to anyone who hasn't heard the album but "Come On" (stinging slide guitar and a slouching feel), "Sexy", "Single Man" and "Nothing To Say" are stand-outs in their own way. "New Orleans 1996" has Boogie channelling Captain Von Vlet in a respectful way and one of the guitarists is putting holes in "21st Century Sucks" with fretwork that's sharper than a dentist's drill.
Dead Horse Problem are fans of Melbourne's Double Agents so who better to invite to play guitar and sing on a cover of The Reigning Sound's "Straight Shooter" than that band's Dave Butterworth?
There's a tendency at times for the songs to meld into each other, but there are a lot more high-profile bands playing this stuff less skilfully. If Dead Horse Problem were from Berlin rather than Bretagne I'd bet they'd be on an All Tomorrow's Parties bill.
My copy came out on LP but I'm guessing that's not going to be a problem for most of you, huh? Score a copy here. - The Barman
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