NEW MUSIC: The Snowdroppers – Love Letters

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Sydney’s The Snowdroppers have waited a while to finally release their new single ‘Love Letters’. The song comes from their new album Business, due out September 4th via FOUR | FOUR. Described as “four on the floor Motown-meets-punk-rock” the song is definitely a bigger, brighter, pop-fuelled sound for the band.

LIVE REVIEW: Shihad @ Metro Theatre, Sydney 07/09/12

by Chris Familton

A night of celebratory rock was kicked off by locals The Upskirts and though at first coming across as fairly generic alt rock they soon revealed a real mixture of influences. They swung from Arctic Monkeys guitar pop to a a great dirgy track sung by drummer Thomas Kell that sounded like The Cure. They approach basic rock songs with an inventive bent, marking them out as a promising band to watch as they either refine or further embrace their stylistic range.

The Snowdroppers took things into another realm with their retro saloon styling in their brash and entertaining set. Frontman Johnny Wishbone came out scissor-kicking, lurching and gyrating around the stage like an Aussie pub rock version of Little Richard. The audience responded to the band’s ribald songs about cheap girls and cheap drugs and fittingly they played with just the right amount of slickness and ramshackle rock n roll to loosen up the Friday night crowd. Wishbone’s antics are ridiculously over the top but he pulled it off and showed he is one of the best frontmen around at the moment.

From the moment Shihad hit the stage they had The Metro in the palm of their hand and the interesting concept of playing songs from their near quarter century of music, in chronological order, paid off as a fascinating way to travel their career arc through its many stages. Their early speed metal origins were honoured with the brutal riffing of It before the industrial and post punk tinged Derail and Factory showed how quickly the band matured in their early years. Shihad have always been a devastating live act and when matched (as it was) with a loud and visceral sound mix they can sound like one of the greatest on the planet. All the usual suspects were played from the darker Killjoy tracks, fan favourites like Home Again and the commercial peak of The General Electric through to highlights from their recent albums. Looking around at the audience it was interesting how people connected with different parts of their career from the early fans to the ones screaming along to the newer songs. Jon Toogood was exceptional as ever pulling guitar-hero moves atop the speaker stacks and showed he is still as enthusiastic and passionate as ever about their music.

Distractions like name changes are irrelevant when it comes to the music and in celebrating their career to date Shihad were simply superb.

this review was first published in Drum Media

REVIEW: SEASICK STEVE @ The Metro, Sydney 04/01/10

There have been some recent journalistic doubting of the authenticity of Seasick Steve’s persona and the stories of his life experiences. Anyone not convinced of his right to play the blues need only witness the man live in concert where his music rightfully and righteously sets the record straight.
The Snowdroppers were one of those little known support acts that impresses and leaves a lasting impression on you. They have the look down pat with two bearded and snappily attired guitarists, a long haired and stomping drummer and frontman Johnny Wishbone who looks like a good polite choirboy until he opens his mouth and sings and howls the blues between some searing harmonica and frantic banjo playing. Your perception then switches to a mutant Matt Damon meets Dexter. The Snowdroppers have a magical mix of the aforementioned blues, rockabilly and swaggering rock – all delivered with precision and murderous intent. They have a debut album out… Buy it, I did.
A shuffling figure with a beat-up guitar appeared out of the shadows and there was that magical moment before widespread recognition ignited the applause. With a well-worn grin Steve lumbered to his position on a drum riser and launched straight into his raw and roughshod blues. Thunderbird began with the trademark quip – “If you’re gonna sing a song about drinking wine… you should drink some wine”, before taking a few healthy swigs of his drummer’s bottle. That set the scene for a 90 minute set of Jack Daniels gulps, some hilarious and moving stories and some downright dirty guitar playing.
Steve shifted between his one string Diddly-Bo, a cheap pawn shop electric and some battered acoustics. All sounded well-worn and perfectly complemented his autobiographical songs of love, traveling and rural life. Such is his ability to extract a story from any subject he even sung a tribute to his John Deere tractor.
For Walking Man Steve chose two lucky women from the audience to sit with him on stage as he serenaded them as if he was on the porch strumming to his lady. The audience interaction was key to the brilliance of Steve as he paused mid song to simply and brutally nullify talkers in the crowd and early into his set he offered money back to any critics who weren’t digging the show and suggested they leave if they were contemplating a negative review.
Chiggers showed the humorous side of the bluesman with his cautionary and instructional tale of southern USA bugs. His humour shone through a genre that isn’t usually big on laughs. It is something that Steve has obviously realised is a part of his performance that works and he balanced it perfectly.
The new and more groove-based album Man From Another Time featured heavily with the title track and Never Go West particular standouts. Steve has evolved his sound with his current drummer to conjure up a bigger and harder rhythms that bring to mind anything from ZZ Top to early Ben Harper.
Offsetting the smiles are songs like Things Go Up where he led a full Metro sing-a-long that rang on as he left the stage before the encore. Being able to carry a large club venue with often intimate music and only one drummer as accompaniment was an impressive thing. Returning for the encore Steve lifted the tempo with a boogie that changed gears and ended on another audience chorus of howling dogs and Steve gleefully banging a chair into the stage. It showed that the man can make music out of anything and create a communal live atmosphere that is irresistible. A truly reaffirming musical start to 2010.
Reviewed for The Dwarf

NEWS: New band alert… The Snowdroppers

Not strictly a new band as they’ve been around for a couple of years but The Snowdroppers hit my radar this week as the support for Seasick Steve at The Metro. Awesome stage prescence backed up by great songs… here’s an excerpt from my gig review for The Dwarf…

The Snowdroppers were one of those little known support acts that impresses and leaves a lasting impression on you. They have the look down pat with two bearded and snappily attired guitarists, a long haired and stomping drummer and frontman Johnny Wishbone who looks like a good polite choirboy until he opens his mouth and sings and howls the blues between some searing harmonica and frantic banjo playing. Your perception then switches to a mutant Matt Damon meets Dexter. The Snowdroppers have a magical mix of the aforementioned blues, rockabilly and swaggering rock – all delivered with precision and murderous intent. They have a debut album out… Buy it, I did.

They have a debut album Too Late To Pray out now.