Monday, October 1, 2012

Album Review: "Greetings From Welp City" by the Hooten Hallers

Welcome to Welp City. You may remember my concert review of the Hooten Hallers show. That was the second time I had seen them live and the show was just phenomenal. When I saw them the first time at El Lenador, I was floored and I really wanted to pick up their CD, but sadly, I only had so much money and I purchased "Painkillers" that night instead.

The next day I began seeking out information if I could acquire their physical CD, but alas the only want to get it was at their shows. There are several ways you can purchase the entire album on MP3 though, but that's just not my scene. I need to have a physical CD. Part of that is being old fashioned, part of that is I can't really hook up an MP3 player in my car, and part of it is wanting a physical backup to all of my music. When they were in town last, it was a release party of their 7" vinyl, of which I'm also not a fan, but I was holding out hopes that I would be able to snag one of their discs. I was able to snag what was apparently the only CD they had brought with them. In fact it still has the LAST ONE written on masking tape on the front of it.

This album is low down and dirty electric blues. The guitars are distorted like the bluesmen of the fifties and sixties. If I didn't know better, and I don't, I'd swear that there are holes in the speakers like the Kinks used to do. Some of the record is played on a lap steel and some of it played on an old hollow body electric and the guitars sound like dirt played with reckless abandon. (I mean that in a very complimentary way.)

The drums are strong and booming. They are the backbone of this album in the truest sense of the phrase. The two main players, John and Andy compliment each other musically in an amazing way. Beyond both of them playing, they both handle the vocals. John sings like Joe Cocker after getting his fill of every John Lee Hooker album ever recorded and Andy sings behind him in the strangest falsetto I have ever heard.

The album starts off with "War With Hell" and "Missouri Boy," the songs they started off both of their shows with and it ends with a touching song, "Tonite He's On Death Row." The other 11 tracks hit all points in between. From up tempo numbers to soulful ballads of love and whiskey lost; also included is a track called "Welp City Boogie" that's little more than a harmonica battle. This brings me to my only real complaint with this album is that they enlisted a few other musicians to help round out the songs. They really do add to feel and fullness, but I fell in love with the more stripped down shows that feature just the two of them. I suppose my only real complaint is that they made the music sound better. This really isn't much of a complaint. This is a fantastic album.

Genre: Blues
Year: 2012
Run time: 61:21

Track Listing:
1. War With Hell
2. Missouri Boy
3. Highway Sound
4. Leave Me Alone
5. She Used To Love My Music
6. Monkeyhead
7. Welp City Boogie
8. Holy Moses
9. Sticks and Stones
10. Old Baby Blues
11. Taxes
12. Half Right
13. Baby
14. Tonite, He's On Death Row

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