Swampmeat Family Band
Polish Your Old Halo LP Release show
Live at the Hockley Social
When I finally drag my ass out of the chair by the hearth and head out for the set from BHX-DFW americana garage rockers, Swampmeat Family Band, at the Hockley Social, well, pretty well, a mild winter has set on. It’s a dark dreary old night for sure and I can’t help but wonder, what’s better, heading to a summer festival when the weather is pretty good and everything is fine and dandy and the performers have to be better than the weather? Or tonight, as I wrap my andreeuk rare wool scarf into a big bow, search out my trusty National Trust kids beanie - that has stretched nicely for my big head as I told the Nats Trust Lady it would while she admonished me for buying a kids version, although, it was the one on sale, Lady… (The price of National Trust swag!) And pull on the coat my dad bought to fight the Big Freeze of ‘63, (thanks dad) that is still going reasonably strongly, although in areas threadbare, and compared to the contemporary constructed textiles available for fighting frosty nights, it probably serves me best simply battling a stiff breeze here and there, but I digress. Of course I do. I think, perhaps on these damp and chilly nights the band, if they can get anyone to leave their homes, has a head start. They would have to be a special kind of crap to be worse than the mood the weather puts fans in on the way over to the gig.
And that is no reflection at all on the quality of the entertainment provided by Swampmeat Family Band who as it turns out are pretty amazingly darned raucous and good. Tonight they’re a four piece. Their sound is fat and raw. The rhythm section is flawlessly primitive, endlessly landing me with simple sucker punches I shoulda seen coming. I am beaten and I am awed by a perfect platform for these rock’n’roots shenanigans.
Swampmeat Family Band are loosely based around Bearwood, featuring Dan Finnemore, standing the middle playing guitar and hogging the mic; Richard March on bass guitar, the current hardest working man in showbiz - he additionally moonlights from his day job as a Pop Will Eat Itself person, with the Unbelievable EMF. The remarkable T-Bird Jones on marginally deconstructed drums, and the swoony-hearthrob guy with the early Monty Clift intensity, Tommy Hughes on guitar, who incidentally and I am sure not accidentally plays neither too much nor too little on his white stratocaster. It is a beautiful sound to behold.
Their Hockley Social gig is an official launch for their new LP, their fourth, Polish Your Old Halo. It was recorded in Birming-ha with producer Mark Gittins. It's an exciting and forthright statement. As the band breezes through songs from that double-wide collection, it crunches like broken glass underfoot out back by the dumpster, it's as solid bodied as fuck. They pepper the set with old favourites too, towards the end, their cover of Foggy Notion (taken from their LP Muck) is an earth-wire free amped up thrill. To hear this lesser heralded Velvets song sizzling so, raw and reverent, is the evening's final truthful delight.
Somehow, something in the midst of what the Swampmeat Family Band do in Birming-ha! on a Thursday night, truly makes that ol’ bad weather wane. Instead of winter, I swear to Ye Gods it get real swampy. Really, really glad I could be bothered to get out.
Polish Your Old Halo, is available on vinyl & download now from Bandcamp
Main image Swampmeat Family Band live courtesy of Ancient Champion's unsteady hand.
Swampmeat Family Band LP, Polish Your Old Halo, is available now on vinyl & download from Bandcamp and you can stream it too, (obv).