Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Ben Bostick: “Hellfire” (2018) CD Review

If you’re looking for some kick-ass country rock music, full of attitude and energy, check out Ben Bostick’s new album, Hellfire. This is his second full-length release, following his self-titled album, and it features all original material, written by Ben Bostick. Joining him on this release are Kyle Lalone on guitar and backing vocals, Luke Miller on piano and organ, Perry Morris on drums, and Cory Tramontelli on bass. This album is a tremendous amount of fun, and a lot of these songs demand some volume. Let loose and enjoy. These are songs that will you get you drinking and dancing and singing along.

Ben Bostick kicks off the album with “No Show Blues,” a great, angry bluesy country rock tune tackling some of those timeless blues and country themes – a crummy job and a mean woman. And, of course, drinking. “I’m gonna go to the bank and cash out my account/Drive straight to the tavern and drink a disgusting amount.” Man, sometimes that sounds so appealing, particularly these days, when our country is being run by racist morons. Check out the keys during the instrumental section. “I had a job in the valley, but I doubt I do anymore/I took a day off and then I took four more.” There is a bit of a Springsteen sound to the vocals on this track. That’s followed by “Hellfire,” the album’s title track, a playful country tune with a lot of attitude. And there is more drinking. Hey, if you’re like me, you’ve been drinking heavily since November 2016. I love the lines about the church, where once he feels free of sin, he starts drinking: “So I stumbled into church and sat down for a spell/A few minutes in, I felt free of sin, so I polished off my bottle of bathtub gin/And got stinking, dirty, awful drunk as hell.”  After all, who wants to feel too clean and holy? It just won’t do, not these days when Nazis wander the land in red baseball caps. (Remember, friends, Nazis are still the enemies of the United States, and should be treated as such.) Have I mentioned how cool his voice is? His voice fits in with that great tradition of country outlaws. Listen to him on “No Good Fool”; his voice is low, strong, without artifice or bullshit. “So you say you like bad boys/Well, run away while you can/I told you I ain’t no bad boy/I’m a bad, bad man.”

“Blow Off Some Steam” is fantastic fun, coming at you at a fast pace, with some wonderful work on guitar. Plus, I seriously dig that stuff on keys. This track features some playful vocal work, with a sort of stutter. “I got to blow off some steam before I b-b-b-b-blow up/I’ve been holding it in through the whole work week.” Shit, a lot of us have been holding it in since the 2016 election. That’s followed by another totally enjoyable tune, “It Ain’t Cheap Being Poor.” Sure, it’s a song about struggling financially, but it is a lot of fun, one to get you tapping your feet. “Well, it ain’t cheap being poor, and I can’t take any more/Of the tickets and the taxes and the fees/I work hard for my pay, then they take it away.” And, yes, there is more cool work on keys. Then “Tornado” is about a woman who comes along and changes the man’s life, and not for the better. “Well, I lost my job and all of my money/Most of my friends and half of my mind.” And the story takes place here in Los Angeles, beginning on a hazy day. Ah, you know just exactly what he’s talking about. “I want to hate her, but I love her instead.”

Things go wrong in “The Other Side Of Wrong” too, which is basically a list of mistakes and woes. It also includes the line, “But if I didn’t make bad decisions, I wouldn’t make no decisions at all,” a variation of the old “bad luck” line. There is something of a Bo Diddley beat at times. Then “Work, Sleep, Repeat” employs that familiar western rhythm, like a horse trotting along casually. What is it about that rhythm that always makes smile? I think a lot of us can relate to these lyrics: “Work, sleep, work, sleep, that’s all I ever do anymore (work, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep)/Somewhere up the line I forgot what I was working for/There goes life, looks like it ain’t slowing down for me.” The album concludes with “The Outsider,” a solid, thumping, rocking song. “Yeah, I’m on the outside but I ain’t looking in/What everybody’s doing really ain’t that interesting/Yeah, I’m on the outside but that ain’t far enough.”

CD Track List
  1. No Show Blues
  2. Hellfire
  3. No Good Fool
  4. Blow Off Some Steam
  5. It Ain’t Cheap Being Poor
  6. Tornado
  7. The Other Side Of Wrong
  8. Work, Sleep, Repeat
  9. How Much Lower Can I Go
  10. Feeling Mean
  11. The Outsider 
Hellfire was released on June 29, 2018.

No comments:

Post a Comment