Thursday 26 September 2013

The Michael John McGlone Band - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Album review by

'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea' is the début album from South East London genre-blenders The Michael John McGlone Band, whose initial conception saw Michael John McGlone embarking on a solo journey which, somewhere along the line, managed to find him contentedly intercepted by five other talented comrades. On collectively throwing their hats into the ring they've produced an exceptional 13-track début with a sound unparalleled to anything that has fallen into our laps of late; certainly not current, anyway.

Comprised of Michael John McGlone (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Jack O'Brien (vocals, mandolin), Gary Booth (vocals, percussion, melodica), Hannah Spencer (vocals, piano), Daniel McGlone (bass), and Richard Wooding (drums), The Michael John McGlone Band are a distinct sextet whose firm roots in the folk genre combined with elements of country and British punk result in a grizzly, grunge-infused sound of whose gloom is frequently interjected with explosive bursts of zeal and hope. If we look at the first four tracks, the album opens up-tempo and patriotically with 'England Will Hold My Bones' setting the scene for the folk story themes of the album (water/the sea, a love of England, dances with the devil, death/love and life) showcasing Mcglone's passionately throaty vocals, an exciting use of wind instruments making you want to do the jig and really engaging multiple harmonies in particular. 'As Soon As My Heart Stops Beating' is an intensely macabre, anti-religious song where the words are not so much as sung but ripped from McGlone as he almost bitterly shrieks, "As soon as my heart stops beating, as soon as the last breath strokes my throat, put me in a wooden box and then bind my hands with rope" accompanied with bleak acoustic guitar riffs. 

'Shivers' is a ridiculously beautiful, emotive track with a softer, ballad-like quality. 'Sail On Slowly' is a blinder that is one of the most uplifting and hopeful of tracks and is probably one of the most "radio friendly" of songs whose intro initially reminded me a bit of the Goo Goo Dolls. Each song has its own offering and holds its own weight. Some are slightly repetitive with the same sort of drone but this isn't an insult. It familiarises you with a sound that unless you are a traditionalist punk-folk fan (think Flogging Molly) you would otherwise be unacquainted with. The Michael John McGlone band are an outfit whose fables take you on a voyage with bite, brains and a tremendous amount of earthly, natural heart. Their eclectic use of instrumentation and combined talent holds no end of greatness. These guys know what they are doing, they do it well and with a vigour that could sink even the sturdiest of ships. We hope you enjoy the jaunt as much as we did.

The Michael John McGlone Band's website

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