Little Barrie – King Of The Waves (Shock)

This power trio from Nottinghamshire, England describes its music as “rock & roll-soul-punk-mod-blues”. Add surf to the list and you just might have an accurate picture as to what these guys are up to.

This is the third Little Barrie album, their first was released in 2005, its follow-up coming a year later. The band is led by guitarist/vocalist Barrie Cadogan who was last seen in New Zealand this past January performing with Primal Scream. Bass player Lewis Wharton remains from the original line-up while the drummer’s chair is now filled by Virgil Howe, son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe. But don’t fret; there isn’t a hint of prog-rock to be found here. Quite the opposite, the band has gotten wilder and rawer since their first album.

Surf Hell opens this collection and it starts things off with a blast of distorted guitar that riffs incessantly. Barrie’s vocals are overdriven and drenched in reverb. It’s a prime slab garage/blues.

How Come follows with Barrie’s nasally singing up against a descending guitar riff. The energy level is a bit lower, until the end when Cadogan breaks into a screeching guitar solo.

Does Your Halo Rust is reminiscent of classic White Stripes with its start-stop bluesy guitar stomp. Indeed, if you are looking for comparisons, think of the White Stripes and, perhaps, Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion. The track finishes up with a swirly, psychedelic finish that is quite mesmerising.

Precious Pressure and King Of The Waves are both a bit mellower. The former features a slinky r&b vibe, while the latter highlights Barrie’s twangy guitar.

This is followed by one of the album’s highlights, Now We’re Nowhere, a simple blues with plenty of cool percussion. It’s basic but it works. The same can be said for Tip It Over, an urgent rocker with a mighty bass-line and another psycho-guitar rave-up.

New Diamond Love features some group vocals, chanting the title. It’s OK, but not the band’s strong suit. In fact, if there is a weakness in Little Barrie, it’s the vocals.Barrie’s voice doesn’t seem to have the power to hold up against the music. Perhaps a dedicated front man would help the situation.

But nevertheless, the three musicians here still come up with the goods most of the time. This is raucous, blues-infused rock & roll, spiced with a touch of the whammy bar and made to be played loud.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Now We’re Nowhere from King Of The Waves