The O’s – Thunderdog
Just coming to the end of their latest British tour (Colston Hall, Hammersmith Apollo – the venues are getting bigger) The O’s are back with their third album, recorded at the Sonic Ranch Studio in Texas. It’s more of the same, really, from lovable scamps John Pedigo and Taylor Young as they wreak their own particular brand of roots music mayhem across twelve new songs. Both these boys take a turn at singing and, between them, they play most instruments. Can’t say I noticed any brass but guitars (acoustic and electric), fiddle, harmonica, banjo, foot-drum, mandolin. . .it’s all on there but I guess their sound is characterized by the banjo up front and centre stage and that foot drum pounding away. Actually, having seen them live I’m not convinced they’d need overdubs to get all the instrumentation on. With The O’s, everything seems to be happening at once and, as two guys with acoustic instruments go, they’re a pretty overwhelming experience. Looking like two drifters who’ve breezed into town without getting a night’s sleep on the way, they could just be the distraction that keeps the townsfolk occupied whilst their buddies rob the local bank, their double act patter between songs keeping all eyes fixed safely on the stage.
As for the album, turn it up loud and let it soak into you. It’s not smooth by any means but the expensive production has added depth to their naturally raucous sound. There’s a wonderful moment on the song Secrets, for example, when a beautiful break on slide guitar appears out of nowhere and takes the song somewhere completely new, infusing it with a whole new atmosphere. Like a one-man band, this two-man band are usually so busy making a noise that there seems little space for the quieter moments that can demonstrate how less is frequently more.
There’s a vast area of pop music where people buy the music and then expect to hear every note faithfully reproduced at a live “event”. The O’s are pretty much the antithesis of that; these guys are all about being out on the road, bringing fun and a blast of something wild and reckless to the weekend crowd. They’re bound to be back in the UK before the year’s out. Go have yourselves a blast and buy the album to remember the good times.