More Primitive - Lonely Shack (Alive Natural Sound)
Never underestimate rock and roll’s ability to look inwards, and backwards, to re-heat its own bones in an attempt to sound new. Cue Lonesome Shack, who hail, geographically if not spiritually, from the flanellete shirt and trucker cap American frontier of its North-West.
Here’s the back-story: Guitarist builds a shack in New Mexico and avidly studies American blues and folk. He moves to the US North-West. Hooks up with a bassist and drummer in Seattle and becomes a band playing pared-back Delta blues. They call their album “More Primitive.”
By most standards, “More Primitive” is not. It’s cleanly recorded in a Washington state studio, Dandelion Gold. Producer Johnny Goss has kept volume and distortion minimal. No bells or whistles either, but Lonesome Shack certainly doesn’t sound like Dead Moon.
It’s not a bad record - it just doesn’t live up to the label. You want to hear “primitive”? Take an aural stroll through the catalogue of a label like Voodoo Rhythm from Switzerland or Slovenley out of Nevada. Now, they make lo-fi an art form.
On “More Priimtive”, Ben Todd (guitar and vocals) has his Delta bluesman thing on. The accompanying engine room is never intrusive and works well in the pocket. The band has a rustic sound but for the most part, the songs aren’t striking or that memorable.
The exception is “Medicine”, released as a teaser and built on Luke Bergman’s strident bass-line and Todd’s call-and-response guitar. It’s sounds like a junkie withdrawal song that ends up where it started but has a nice feel.
“Big Ditch” is a concession to rockers and strays close to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion territory. “Trying To Forget” - the sole track recorded at Todd’s shack, presumably as a pre-production demo - is pared back to the barest of bones and also works well. Maybe the low road through the backwoods is the path Lonesome Shack should have chosen.