Daddy Long Legs – Lowdown Ways
12 songs – 38 minutes
Based out of Brooklyn, NY, Daddy Long Legs are a refreshing throwback to the raucous mess of early rock’n’roll and garage rock, playing hopped-up blues and blues-rock with lethal abandon. Lowdown Ways recalls everything from Howlin’ Wolf to MC5 and is one of the most enjoyable albums of the year so far.
Not to be confused with the Canadian band of the same name, this Daddy Long Legs features Brian Hurd on vocals, harmonica and guitar, Murat Akturk on slide guitar and Josh Styles on drums and maraca. Lowdown Ways is their third studio album (in addition to one live album and two singles) and their first on Yep Roc Records. The album, which features 12 original compositions, was produced by Jimmy Sutton and engineered by Alex Hall at Hi-Style Studios in Chicago, and they have captured a series of gloriously wild performances from the band.
Lowdown Ways opens with “Theme from DADDY LONG LEGS”, a foot-stomping, harp-driven piece that recalls early field hollers with its repetitive hummed backing vocals and primitive percussion. It’s a fine statement of intent and the pace then picks up through “Pink Lemonade” and “Ding Dong Dang”, both of which see the vocal melody follow a heavily-distorted single note guitar line, drawing echoes of early country blues, albeit country blues that have been dragged through a hedge of electricity and modern attitude.
The one chord boogie of “Morning, Noon & Nite” sounds like early John Lee Hooker backed by a strung out Stray Cats, while “Glad Rag Ball” recalls primeval rock and roll and emphasizes Hurd’s ragged voice. That rock and roll feel is also captured in the stupidly catchy “Winners Circle” with its sing-along chorus and entertaining key changes. The toe-tapping “Célaphine” has a Cajun feel, with Hurd’s harmonica playing nicely mimicking an accordion even if his vocals sound more punk-London than Louisiana. The band goes country for the acoustic “Back Door Fool”, where Hurd’s vocals sound a little strained, although there are also hints of country on the impressive closer, “Wrong Side Of The River”, which sounds like a debauched relative of “Ghost Riders In The Sky” gone to seed.
With 12 songs packed into 38 minutes, this is not an album with long solos. Hurd’s harmonica is both the primary solo instrument as well as an important rhythmic contribution. “Bad Neighborhood”, the only track to exceed four minutes, is also one of the few to feature guitar solos. The focus of Lowdown Ways is on the song, not the players. Hurd, Akturk and Styles are tight, focused and create an impressively full sound given the lack of bass guitar and other instruments. In addition, clever changes in rhythmic patterns keep tracks like “Snagglepuss” and the gospel-via-Mississippi-Hill-Country-and-a-whiskey-still “Be Gone” interesting.
If you like your blues ragged and raw and shot through with attitude, with intimations of everything from Son House to Dr Feelgood, Captain Beefheart and even the Black Crowes, you will find a lot to enjoy in Lowdown Ways. Tremendous stuff.