Chuck Ragan - Los Feliz
With the likes of Tom Morello and Frank Turner strapping on an acoustic and looking towards Woody Guthrie rather than Henry Rollins for inspiration, there seems little slowdown in the number of ageing rockers looking to do something a tad more relaxed. There's an obvious thread of course: before punk it was folk and roots music that carried a conscience, so it's not entirely unsurprising that mellowing out slightly seems appealing, especially if that radical edge can be retained.
Until last year or so Ragan was the vocalist for Hot Water Music, a band that never quite broke through to commercial success, despite crafting half-a-dozen or so albums of emphatic, passionate punk that proved to be a hugely influential presence on the scene.
Los Feliz is a live recording of a hastily-organised gig back in February of this year. From the outset, there's no mistaking Ragan's distinctive growl but as the performance begins to unfold, it's almost as if he's forgotten he no longer has a full band behind him, bellowing out the words like some kind of bluegrass walrus. It's shame, 'cos the songs - and Ragan - have a lot heart but on two seperate run-throughs I had to stop the CD 'cos it was getting on my tits.
With a mix of new material, covers and songs from his previous projects, the set is whooped up by the audience but for those listening many thousands of miles away, all intimacy is lost and it becomes rather ... exhausting.