EP Review: The Red Velvetines – Black

red vHailing from the northern half of Northern Ireland, this dynamic young quartet demonstrates a maturity and musical knowledge well beyond their years.  Their roughed up, distorted, dirty blues ploughs a furrow that can be traced back to the late Sixties blues revival – and even further back to the rawness of southern blues – in much the same way as the likes of Band Of Skulls and Blood Red Shoes.

Indeed, the Velvetines share a common bond with both of the aforementioned, in the fact that they have a female vocalist.  There’s also a strong feeling emanating through their music which draws upon two other acts with strong female members – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The White Stripes.  Add in massive dollops of Thin Lizzy, Primal Scream, Queens Of The Stone Age (and, to a lesser extent Kyuss), The Answer and St Jude and you come close to an approximation of the acerbic, acidic, eclectic, electric and intense funk-filled blues sound which the Velvetines produce.

This second, self-released three track kicks off with ‘Get Down’, which rolls out of the speakers with a funky bass riff from Uel Taylor, the main beat of which is picked up by drummer Corkie McCorkell and then Mark Blair’s bruising but understated guitar line.  But, it’s when the vocals kick in that the song is really elevated to the next level:  Claire McCorkell (yes, she married the drummer!) has the soul and passion of Janice Joplin, combined with the fragility of Stevie Nicks and the power of Ann Wilson or Fergie… she really has that great a voice!

‘Tell Me Sister’ is more laidback and bluesy, but with a bitter edge, while ‘Ninety Nine Times’ is darker and grittier, based on a riff that feels like it has been dragged through a swamp several times and then stomped upon (and one which Rory Gallagher would probably be proud to call his own, if he were still around today), while Claire’s resonant, soulful vocal stretches her voice to the utmost limits, recalling the likes of Bessie Smith and Nina Simone but with much more angst.

This is a young band that are just getting better and better all the time, and yet more evidence of the sheer wealth of talent that is just waiting to bust out of the li’l ol’ corner of the world known as Norn Iron.

The Red Velvetines play Banbridge Football Club, with Screaming Eagles and ‘Tric, on Saturday February 9th.  Further gigs will be announced in the near future.  Follow the band on Facebook for more information.

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