If you like the idea Royal Blood or Drenge i.e. two-piece alternative rock, then you should immediately buy into The Graveltones.
Naturally, for this 2-man concept to work, the guitarist has to be more than just merely competent. He needs to be spectacular. Think of the White Stripes scenario with Jack White playing all the rhythms, licks and bass notes to get an idea of the techniques that need to be applied.
Long chords, licks and acid-dark bass notes must all be produced (preferably simultaneously) using only eight fingers. Then of course there are the drums. The rollers need to grow in the spaces left after licks. Rhythms must have texture and tone. It is not a case of just pounding and crashing. It must be a wild fizz. Yet keep pace.
The difference between The Graveltones — consisting of Australians Jimmy O on guitar/vocals and Mikey Sorbello on drums — and the other duos you might have heard, is that these two take their influences from way-back. We are talking here about the Vee-Jay Records days. It’s the earliest kind of rhythm and blues. So The Graveltones produce powerful, pounding rhythms, string-bending moments and rockabilly vocals that remind us of Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. It’s bopping. It’s fluid. It’s high-pressure fun. But played with gravitas and expertise.The band’s second studio album ‘Love Lies Dying’ was released earlier this year and the live performance at this autumn’s KrushFest in Great Yarmouth at the weekend offered the band an opportunity to play their sounds to an enthusiastic audience.
Jimmy is at center stage, with Mikey positioned at an angle relational to Jimmy, stage left. Both seem serious and stern. Big man Mikey, slightly less so. His huge arms moving at an astonishing speed, while he blitzes the skins and plates.
Neither ‘Bang Bang’ or ‘Lightning Bolt’ are on the 2015 album. But ‘Bang Bang’ is a screaming rock ‘n’ roll number with scratchy guitars and rhythms that ruffle the shizz right out of you. ‘Lightning Bolt’ sucks and yawns. There’s so much tone here. The vocals are liquid gold and the drums are a mix of sparkling fluster and power.
‘World On a String’ has a bruising bass sound and an insistent beat. The vocal is virile and yet honeyed. The melody keeps heads banging. It’s sludgy and engaging. With striking pauses, stop-time hooks and electrifying moments a-plenty this is a mature show. The crowd at Yarmouth like the uptempo rock ‘n’ rollers the best. And here there is hidden boppiness amongst the strewn chords.
Strength of character, self-esteem and confidence. It ‘s all here. A strong performance by maestros who are not afraid to dig deep and bravely into a world that we left behind in 1962.
You can catch The Graveltones live at the Winter Rocks Festival in Sheffield on December 5th or at The Dome, Tufnell Park, London on December 12th.
Photos by Neil Mach