6 January 2016

Ted Z & The Wranglers - Ghost Train

Welcome to America!!!! Only a few weeks late this time, but the backlog is coming down slowly but surely.  This time the music comes from Southern California, USA from Ted Z & The Wranglers.  Now I would like to say that the press release that came with this record it one of the best I have ever read, truly if ever a band has been summed up by their PR department - this would be winning medals.  I have to quote it directly here as I would not want to change a word -

Ted's catchy story-songs are fully-realized tales of love, regret, getting older, and getting in trouble. The band stirs up its Americana influences, featuring quick picking and bluesy slide guitar over galloping train beats and swinging shuffles.

Now I am not the biggest Country fan, I have reviewed a few on here but it is a genre that remains largely a mystery to your humble blogger here.  I would also be doing the band a dis-service by saying I had heard of them before I received the request, but I am always willing to try something new - let's see where this train takes us......
“Hold On” is the first song and this is song might as well have Americana stamped on the from and I am sure if you cut the band they would bleed red, white and blue.  It is a standard Country/Americana number that has a beautiful slide guitar, double bass, simple drums and a sound about trying to keep strong when the world seems to be at its darkest.  It sounds like a mixture of Tom Petty, Medicine Hat and Cardinal Trait; mixing in a simple song that will have fans of the genre dancing along or singing out in sympathy.  For what it is, it is a nice tune and you can get lost in it so it all depends on how much you like this sort of music to how you will feel about it.  “Joseph Ratcliff” is the song which starts with a guitar solo and a 12 bar blues scale going up and down before the band start with a dancing number with this tale about slaying a giant called Joseph Radcliffe and saving the girl of your dreams.  It is a song that mixes style with a rock & roll beat with the American overtones, it is well played but it is a song which is aimed squarely at their target audience and might not appeal to people who listen to other genres.  “Go Find Your Heaven” is the next song and the mood is slowing down slightly as love is in the air, this song (which has also been released as single) is about falling in love, the shotgun wedding that followed and the life that changes you as you go.  It is gentle on the soul, pleasant on the ear and really simple to understand and appreciate.  I can see why this one was released as a radio edit, it has potential to reach a wider audience and will hopefully find them, it is a very good song that the band have here.  “Kansas” on the other hand is a song that once again has Americana running through its veins and a patriotic heart which is firmly on display.  I will be honest and say this song is not for me, but I can understand it and I know it will go down a storm with the band’s audience.

“Trouble” is the next song is about escaping your trouble, the lady by your side not knowing the trouble you are in and is the first song in ages which uses the word mother-trucker instead of its famous relative.  It is a mid-paced number that brings the noise up for the band and actually reminds me a bit of the number one hit “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something.  It is one that once again makes me smile so much that despite myself I am trying not to sing out loud, it is not my usual type of thing but I like it a lot – top track of the album.  “Bitter Hand” is a decent number that is designed to make Ted Z & The Wranglers start a party in an empty room as everyone comes from miles around for a party.  It is one that I can understand more than enjoy, it is one that is not for me; however, it is still one that does nothing wrong whatever, it is just not one I would play normally but I know a few people who would play this sort of song and sing it at the top of their lungs.  “Ghost Train” is a song about dead rock stars as they are being transported past the void into the next world; it is something that has been done before and will no doubt be done again in the future, but it is done with a reverence that is very respectful.  Mentioning Hendrix, Mercury, Presley and Morrison will have a whole audience on their side before the song has finished playing, it is a highlight of the album as the band gently ride the train with their heroes.

“Ball & Chain” is next and the boogie has come back to the album, this time a song about the old ball & chain (aka a wife or husband) that is holding you back.  Once more I am listening to something as an outsider and seeing the song for what it is, whilst not really connecting with it.  So I will just say that once again the band have made a song that will appeal to their audience and it is played well enough.  “Sam Whitaker” is a rebel song about telling someone to go to hell after they have helped you raise some hell; it is a standard country & roll number that is bouncing along in a way that will again appeal to any Americana fan who likes their country with a little more spice.  “Post Cards” is the penultimate song of the release and is all about love once more as the band play a tune that sounds like a train running along the tracks and the story goes from bad to worse as the song goes along.  I am sorry for being a broken record here, but once more I am enjoying the craft but not connecting with the result.  It is well played and in places it made me chuckle, but I am not the audience for this song.  “Broken” starts with an acoustic guitar strumming along as the singer muses about the world and is not sure if he will be around with vices on display, pain in the air and hurt to be added to the void.  It is a thoughtful number about losing it all and maybe falling down a little too hard to be able to get back up, but forgiveness is still being sort by a broken man who is awaiting to spill his heart to gain redemption.  I like this song, it is one that does not pull punches and there is a small piece of remorse attached to the bravado of the chorus.  It is a good song to end this album on, it is also one of the tracks on the album I truly connected with.

It is strange to be invited into this world when I am usually a guy who is listening to alternative rock and strange noises, I am very grateful for the chance as it is showing me a genre that I rarely listen to outside of the blog and this is a good album in my opinion.  It is a simple one that does exactly what it says on the tin, some of it does not met my own tastes but I appreciate the craftsmanship here.  It would be like me asking the band to look into the latest David Bowie album, they might not get or like it (they might like it, I don't know them as people) – but they might see the effort and time that went into the music and appreciate it for what it is.  It is a fast paced Americana/Country & Roll record that will help some people raise some hell and pass the night as they wait for the dawn.  I hope that this album is a hit for the band, they deserve it more than some other bands I have listened to who make this sort of music and for what it is, there is a lot of fun going on here.  I raise my beer to the band and wish them well.

7.5 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Trouble

No comments:

Post a Comment

Past sermons

Greatest hits