There's something magical about stripped down blues rock. It seems like every decade a handful of disciples from the church of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters comes up to remind the world of the power of minimalism. British power trio and AP members Melody Nelson strip it back to basics but throw in a dash of Zeppelin and a pinch of Sabbath for freshness on their forthcoming debut record Black Hands.
Fronted by model turned guitar-god Aiden Connell, the trio has been tearing up the UK for the last few years; opening for bands like The Libertines and Razorlight. The debut was recorded at their own Goldmine studios on vintage gear giving it an old-school warmth and fuzz. They've got a clear love for old-school rock sounds (and really, who doesn't?), but at their best they add a bit of modern edge to the songwriting. Songs like the amazingly titled 'A Glittering Career in Advertising' add a little psychedelia and dance, while 'My Cherie' throws some indie jangle into the retro soup. Singing like a cross between Hendrix and the MC5's Rob Tyner, Aiden Connell's influences hang pretty close to the surface.
The record does have a few moments where the homage cuts a little too close to the already picked-clean source material. But thankfully for every time Melody Nelson indulges itself in some classic-rock-purist riffery there are tracks like the standout 'I Hate Disco.' The song re-ignites the rock vs. disco battle some 35 years after Public Image Ltd decided we could have both as long as we're all willing to ignore the fact that John Lydon is basically a bastard. Chanting “Gonna burn this disco down / I said gonna burn this disco” over a syncopated post-punk beat, the song makes an accidental case for disco's influence on modern rock before exploding in the kind of face-melting guitar solo that's almost unheard of these days outside the bluesiest of blues rock. It's the kind of contradiction that has always served as the fuel for great rock. Because really there's nothing less rock n roll than orthodoxy. Paying homage to the greats is all well and good, but if you can do it while flipping them off, that's when you've got something special.
Words by Nathan Leigh