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ROSELIT BONE – ‘Blister Steel’ Album Review

ROSELIT BONE – Blister Steel

roselit-boneWith Greg Graffin of Bad Religion releasing a country album, Roselit Bone hit Punkonline Towers with a retro alt country album with hints of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash throughout. The relationship between country, folk and punk is one that has been explored by Nick Cave and Chumbawamba amongst others as the genres focus on protest songs or stories about struggles and outsiders.

The band formed in Portland, Oregon in 2013: first as a duo with drummer, then a trio, and eventually a nine-piece ensemble of flute, trumpets, pedal steel, accordion, violin and more. The album features a Mexican style brass section and some Duane Eddy guitar licks that have you searching for a Cormac McCarthy novel.

Opening with the title track, Blister Steel, the plaintive vocals layer over a gently strummed acoustic guitar with a couple of guitar licks and backing vocals to add texture. It has a Nick Cave circa Murder Ballads ambience and is foreboding in atmosphere. By The Glint Of Your Horns echoes Chris Isacc with a vocal dripping in sadness and longing and a restrained musical backing driven by a constant bass guitar lick.

On My First Name Roselit Bone enter surf-punk territory whilst on Leech Child they return to the plaintive ballad style that Nick Cave has mined so expertly. There’s a hint of Johnny Cash with the sparse guitar twangs and, all of a sudden, the track descends into chaos with the instruments battling with each other for prominence before exiting to an elongated atonal climax.

Where Our Cast Light Doubles is a more straight up country track with steel guitar and the extra special add of a flute and female backing vocals. It’s a strong track from a band at the top of their game. The ten track album provides some light relief with Tie Dye Cowboy told in a spoken word storytelling intro before launching into a full on Mexican style waltz!

Roselit Bone further explore the country genre with Riders On The Wall replete with that Mexican horn section and a “mouthful of tobacco” vocal delivery and they go full folk/country on the Hank Williams inspired Only Falling Sounds.

The penultimate track, Just Lie Still, opens with a yodel and then proceeds at a slow waltz pace as the vocals tell a sad story of isolation. The track would sound at home as a backing track to a violent Western movie. Ending with the excellent Like So Much Garbage that channels the King himself, Roselit Bone have released a cracking album – it may be country in style but it’s punk rock in attitude!

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