Shabby Rogue - By Hook And By Crook
By Hook And By Crook, second album by London-based band Shabby Rouge is a real beaut. Blending the home-spun sounds of The Band and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with a slap-dash of infectious British psychedelic rock this clever band have created a sound that sits in the bandit country between a cabin in the woods and the busy city streets.
Recorded in converted barn in Llangain, Brecon Beacons, there is a feeling of Music From The Big Pink in these songs. Suffused with elements of country, blues, jazz and pure rock and roll, this feels like a labour of love, and it is an absolute delight as a result.
The rousing ‘Northern Lights’ gets things off to an exciting start, fiddles blaring away and bassist Tom Shephard’s glorious vocals cutting through the music like a knife. The music is all hope and glory and rousing choruses with drummer Terry Green keeping things anchored down, while the follow-up, ‘My Future With You’ with guitarist Shaun Litton on vocals, is pure indie-rock, smooth and easy.
The band members trade off vocal duties giving each song a distinct flavour. There is the lovely, country-tinged ‘The Mountain’ with guitarist Johnny Famous on vocals, while the moody ‘Old Man’, with Shephard singing lead, is reminiscent of The Allman Brothers. ‘My Life As A Secret Agent’ is a complete departure sounding like fuzzed-out 60s psychedelia and definitely belongs in the next Tarantino film.
The jazzy ‘Hidden In The Yard’ cools things off, with Litton taking the lead and a Thomas Dolby-like piano trailing from behind. The twitchy ‘Jack In The Box’ has an infectious groove that picks up the tempo again, and the down and dirty 'Tales From The City' is a delicious mix of Muddy Waters and Iggy And The Stooges. The highlight is the glorous ‘By Hook And By Hook (with Famous on vocals), sounding like On The Beach-era Neil Young. The song builds slowly, taking its sweet time, keeping you captivated through every luscious note.
The biggest surprise of all is that this band is as yet unsigned. Let the bidding war commence, because after this album finally sees the light of day these boys will be swimming in champagne.