The title alone suggests a taking of stock in which the Murphy Brothers have gone through changes and yet, despite everything, have arrived back where they started.
This is the subtext of Walk Past Our Past by The Murphy Brothers And The Mack Jackets, five songs issued on vinyl.
The three bothers, Gene, Shaun and and Darren, arrived in the middle of the roots-rock movement in the 80s as the Rockin’ Edsels, playing variations on rockabilly. This soon expanded and refined itself as the Last Wild Sons. Despite adult responsibilities such as family commitments and, in Gene’s case, a religious conversion, their EP is earnest as ever in its evocation of roots rock enhanced by their maturity and ease with the genre. They’re simply a better band but one that is looking backward rather than forward. Which is not to say that the Murphy Brothers ans The Mack Jackets already have peaked – there is still plenty of room to integrate parts and refine the sound – but the element of nostalgia is hard to ignore.
Then again, the brothers might be embarking on something new made from an old cloth. There is a country-rock twang in opener, Do You Wonder, 1950s balladry at the root of the title track, a folk flavour to Like A Breeze . Reassuring rather than revelatory.
Maturity also is a hallmark of Best Life by Shake N’ Cor And The Bonetones. This is most evident on Mediation Blues. A younger person simply could not have written so reflectively or with an air of hard-lived wisdom.
Shake N; Cor are the husband wife team of Corry and Reay Suter. The Bonetones are formed around Sandy Smith who has a monthly jam at the Pemberton Hotel run with cohort David Dykhuisen. Combined, they have recorded a warm, comfortable blues album. It’s an easy going collectionwith overtones of hurt and sex that indicate the two have lived. There is no urgency here but it feels like a smiling greeting that lasts.
It has its gravity. Do You Remember Sombrio, is dirge-like but is at the end of a record that is about living.
It’s been years since I’ve heard anything by Oddnoxious, In that time, he’s updated his recording equipment but not changed his approach. The new Hardpour is still challenging and abrasive with flashes of humour such as a bit of Jeopardy’s interlude that comes near the end of a more song oriented album. “More song oriented” because he’s experimented with different genres and improvisation. Hardpour is back to its punk foundation and shows once again that he is a better musician and conceptualist than a songwriter or singer. Hardpour is Odd’s most orthodox album and there is a danger in that. Both the strengths and weaknesses come through more clearly. Before, he was a maverick. Odd was an acguired taster, as it’s said, but it was good to know that someone of his spirit was around. The idea of assessing him as a conventional songwriter, musician and maker of records seems wrong somehow. But then, so does going backward.