by Chris Familton
Laughing Outlaw Records have already released some fine albums in 2012 and the latest is the debut from Charlie Horse. As the name suggests they are firmly in americana and country rock territory though not of the gentle strum and folk leaning variety. Instead they are riding a more ragged and parched sound that tips its hat to the likes of The Rolling Stones, R.E.M and Drive-by Truckers.
The key to the classic qualities the band harnesses is their songwriting, the guitar playing and the sweetly bold vocals of Crystal Rose. She really stands out as a distinctive singer with her Nico meets Chrissie Hynde husky tone. On tracks like Dead Roses and All The Pretty Horses you feel like you’ve heard the songs before with their hook laden vocal melodies but Rose and Charlie Horse are most definitely carving out their own sound from those who’ve come before.
Paul McDonald’s guitar is both tough and tender but always with a strong backbone, lending it a heads up and proud sound rather than melancholic strumming. He can conjure up a fantastic Crazy Horse style storm on the swing and swagger of Southern Voices and then layer subtle ribbons of distortion, keyboard and effects on the album’s closing Reprise.
Based in the Blue Mountains, the band have captured a wilderness and backwoods feel in many of their tracks with imagery akin to a Cormac McCarthy novel and southern gothic references to dead roses, woods, monsters and horses. Charlie Horse aren’t limited to just country rock styles, they also show they were raised on Australian bands like The Church and on Am I Not Your Baby No More The Divinyls are channeled with its nice dark funk rhythm. I Hope I’m Not A Monster is an impressive album of heroic, widescreen rock n roll that demands repeated listens.
this review was first published in Drum Media