LA’s Laurel Canyon is bursting with seventies inspired folk-pop-rock records these days. It’s nice to hear something nastier break free of the Canyon’s hippie spirit. The LA via New Hampshire and Chicago based quartet, The Diamond Light, recorded their first official full-length record in the canyon with returning producer/engineer Joseph Holiday and Niko Bolas (Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, Warren Zevon). They had released two collection of EPs (Seeds In The Street, and Krotona) before finding solid ground in early 2012. That solid rock ground was the addition of young songwriter, producer, and blues skronk extraordinaire, Trevor Menear.
Menear’s guitar and organ playing on The Diamond Light‘s self-titled full length is worth the price of admission alone, often twisting what could be bland rock songs in lesser hands, into tasty, soulful, skronk excursions – see “Ballad of a Slowman” – and dirty blues dirges like “At Least I Tried” and “Never Enough”; or the slow-stomp dirt of the exit song, “Sixes and Nines”. It’s the softer moments like “Strong Wind South” where the band shines together with restraint while supporting Griffin’s soulful crack with signature Laurel Canyon harmonies on the song’s chorus.
It’s the record’s dirges that the rest of the band – especially it’s leader, singer and guitarist, Griffin Young – hits all the high marks, separating The Diamond Light from many other young bands that often mishandle the blues. Anyone familiar with Menear’s own recent solo releases (Some Kind of Sunshine, Buy You Gold) will be able to enjoy how much he delivers to atypical blues melodies, turning tradition into something new, worthy of guileless pop appreciation (ala Jack White, Dan Auerbach) – and that’s entirely so in this case. He compliments the songs, knowing when to step back, while pushing The Diamond Light to explore through those blues traditions, finding their own sound.
And it’s the band’s recorded sound that is peerless to other young rock-blues bands making a go at it these days – especially out of the Canyon; where Jackson Browne / Warren Zevon influenced folk rock (Dawes) seems to be carrying an empty load out of town. There’s no bullshit blues-rock jam band filler here and that’s a credit to Holiday, Bolas and The Diamond Light‘s abilities to channel live energy into twelve soulful, swampy, skronk-infested, blues songs.
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AW | Andy Whorehall
Andy Whorehall (SM)
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