Hillstomp: bucket and slide blues
Last week on Twitter, I solicited your recommendations for an artist to feature for Trashy Tuesday. Audio Gasoline gave me a list of artists to feature. One of them was Hillstomp. Now, it’s amazing that I haven’t featured this band already considering I really dig the music and I used to write Blue Monday features. Think of this post as righting another wrong.
Granted, this band is a little bit different than most of the bands I feature for Trashy Tuesday. Usually the artists featured on Tuesday are garage-punk bands that have perfected that trashy garage rock sound. Hillstomp is a blues duo from Portland. Listening to this band is one thing. Seeing it is quite another. The drummer plays a kit made of paint buckets, roast pans, and other assorted bric-a-brac (just keep that in mind when you hear the sound the guy gets from this setup). The guitarist likes to wrap his microphone with duct tape to give it that rough and raw sound.
Now to give you a little more about this band, I saw Hillstomp several years ago at a now-defunct venue and stuck up a conversation with Henry (guitar, vocals). He told me that John (drums) “sounds like a five-year-old” if you put him on a standard drum kit. He also went on to tell me that sound guys have shuddered in horror at the drum kit only to realize that the makeshift kit often gets the best sound of the night. So I invite you, loyal reader, to embrace the wonderfully trashy blues sound of Hillstomp.
two-man blues? Hot damn!
Loyal reader, I preach constantly about how you should use the contact page of this blog. If you have not used it yet, here is one good reason why you should. I’m gojng to give you a little glimpse of my introduction to Crooked Saws and my response to it.
Crooked Saws: “I found Incognito by reading Gary Schwind. I think (and hope) my band Crooked Saws is right up his and your alley. We’re a 2 piece blues band from Minneapolis with heavy Hill Country influences. We just released our first album Mo-Fi’ which was recorded using 2 mics and single live takes of each song. Review or no we do really hope you enjoy it. Thank you.”
Your humble narrator: “First off, I want to thank you for reading Gary Schwind, which just happens to be me – the lead writer and editor-in-chief of Incognito. A two-piece blues band with hill country influences? Hot damn! I’d say you came to the right place. That does sound right up my alley. I’ll give it a listen.”
First off, the band should be commended for knowing its audience. Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I have a thing for two-piece bands, especially blues bands. This band does fit into Trashy Tuesday with some of its songs like “Freak.” This is some grimy lowdown blues with a healthy dose of fuzz. Also, the fact that the recorded the album with only one take on two mics. That fits right into the trashy mold.
That being said, a lot of this band’s songs sound a lot like old-time blues. Specifically, these guys remind me of Son House. Just listen to “Death Terror Blues” and see if you disagree. I’d say that Hillstomp is a pretty good comparison for this band as well. This especially comes through in the lo-fi gem “Good Lovin’” The vocals are purposely rough and it has a bit of a dark feel like you get in a lot of Hillstomp songs.
A completely different comparison hit me with the song “Get Up Again.” Jesse Revel’s vocals in this song remind me a lot of Shane Sweeney of Two Cow Garage. He has a similar deep vocal quality with some grit in it that suggests someone who has been involved his fair share of brawls. If you’ve been looking for some good gritty blues, you’ve found it in Crooked Saws.