So who doesn’t want to party to some sleazy blues rock in a huge tent during a high summer afternoon? I imagine a lot of you are already preparing for this by securing some tickets for this year’s music festivals. Once there, you’ll will probably notice there will be a lot of bands to choose from, especially in the rootsy blues rock scene that’s booming once more. Although competition on the fields will be fierce, The Sore Losers could be just the band you don’t want to miss this year.
Why’s that? Well, first of all the band comes from Belgium which exported some great rock bands in the past decades. There’s no shame in knowing that bands such as Absynthe Minded, Arid, Das Pop, dEUS, K’s Choice, Soulwax and Zita Swoon are your compatriots and better yet, already paved the way up the international charts for you. Secondly, The Sore Losers have earned a great reputation on the live circuit in the The Low Countries. And lastly, the pre-spring release date of Roslyn is impeccably smart for building up a critical mass of media air time and thus tempting unwary festival programmers to place a last-minute booking. That’s no bad job, for a band that released its first record in 2010. It seems The Sore Losers really have nothing to lose. Or do they?
The Sore Losers double their catalogue with Roslyn. Compared to their debut, Roslyn is still built around blues rock but now has a more fuller sound to it. Maybe this is no surprise when knowing the recording of Roslyn took place on the same Neve console that was used to created Led Zeppelin’s Coda. After a few plays and some skip throughs is very clear that a mere Zeppelin comparison would do Roslyn short. Opener, ‘Tripper’, and, closer ‘All My Friends’ indeed reminds of the pumping hard rock of Zeppelin, yet all that lies in between is from a slightly different order. Come to think of it, the new Losers is, loosely spoken, an ode to seventies rock. The band members are directly influenced by some great names from back in the day. ‘Working Overtime’ is as catchy as a Stones song, ‘Us, Uniform’ contains elements of Fleetwood Mac’s repertoire with some easy guitar play that culminates into some riffy blues rock and ‘Blue Shoes’ which has something of Pink Floyd’s laidbackness in it. And there’s more, throughout the album, references to Townes van Zandt, Gram Parsons and Bruce Springsteen are also easily recognized.
Roslyn’s soundscope is varied. On some occasions roughness sets the tone. ‘Shakey Painters’ vile guitars for example, will give your stereo a heavy beating from the start and will push the limits of your speakers near the end. Yet on most occasions the tracks are downright made to stick to one’s memory. ‘Don’t Know Nothing’ and ‘Drop Your Disguise’ are simply waiting to be picked up by the young bohemians of today. ‘Gold In Them Hills’ probably the albums most outmoded track. Although the start is zoned-out and guitars are scouring, the refrain eventually is supported with the distinct voice of a female soul singer which is, to my taste, very distracting.
To sum it up, The competences of The Sore Losers are exploited to the max on Roslyn, offering something different on each track and simultaneously balancing themselves between catchiness and authentic hard rock. Roslyn does suffer from two minor issues. Repeatedly tracks musically follow the same structure of building up to a ‘blues rock apotheosis’ which also give endings the feeling of being a bit overproduced. However, more important is the high déjà vu factor of Roslyn. You’ve probably all heard it before from the oldies, and if you haven’t, Roslyn is also close to the work of present day greats such as The Raconteurs and The Black Keys. Nevertheless The Sore Losers do take their music a step further from being a one-sided Led Zeppelin cover band to a multifaceted specialist in seventies rock with a strong predilection for bluesiness. Roslyn is worth a try and, if to your liking, I’m fairly sure it’ll add up to your ongoing preparations for the festival summer of 2014.
Label: Excelsior Recordings, 2014
- Tripper (2:58)
- Working Overtime (2:54)
- Girl’s Gonna Break It (3:20)
- Gold in Them Hills (5:08)
- Shakey Painters (5:11)
- Reasons (2:20)
- Don’t Know Nothing (3:01)
- Us, Uniform (4:03)
- Drop Your Disguise (4:05)
- Blue Shoes (4:07)
- All My Friends (5:57)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 280214