Blind Atlas – Kodiak Bear – album review

Blind Atlas: Kodiak Bear (Fallen Swine)
Available 18 June 2012

Hailing from Manchester alt-country Americana band Blind Atlasdebut album Kodiak Bear is full of foot-stomping delta-riffs and prog rock crescendos.

There is a dim light from a low hanging moon, glimpsed through the whispering branches of ghostly trees. There is a swirling heat that engulfs you and there is music. A sticky swarming delta stomp that drags you through the night and gets your feet tapping.

This, then, is the feeling the debut from Manchester-based Americana band Blind Atlas elicit. A perfect evocation of steamy nights in the deep south, effortlessly throwing Led Zep-style riffs and languid prog rock cascades into the mix.

They describe themselves as ‘Ryan Adams fronting The Black Keys or Fleet Foxes with a Led Zeppelin fixation’ and that certainly slots them into the the right set of obvious influences. There is the merest hint of ’90s pop rock here too, especially evident on the slower tracks.

The album opens though with a couple of twanging boogie-woogie numbers filled with warmth and welcome. They greet you at the door, hustle you into an impromptu spin around the dance floor, put you at your ease.

Breathlessly we move forward, a flutter in the chest as delta blues with delicate finger-picking bring forward alt country duets with more than a little sadness in the strings.

Spellbinding ballads emerging from the shadows and raise the ghosts of further, disparate forefathers; Bob Dylan, Grandaddy, Calexico. A weeping guitar and the tender razor cuts of a howling mouth organ.

The groove is full of lamenting tears but together this sound is one of the wings of hope beating softly. Soft singing, a comforting smile, and the lift of distant cymbals rising to a crescendo that breaks across your chest.

This album keeps you close throughout and gently soothes while surprising. Reverb and wah-wah guitars in a kaleidoscope of composition, confident technique and mature direction. This doesn’t sound much like a band finding their way on a debut but one that has gone the distance and is now telling tales as the embers of the campfire float away into the night.

Shake the sand from your boots and sit a while and listen to Blind Atlas sing you whiskey-soaked lullabies. When you’re revived they’ll sweep you up and dance again.

All words by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on LTW here, on her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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Sarah is a former editor of Louder Than War and a freelance music writer for numerous other publications online and in print. Co-owner of Reckless Yes Records she has put out music by LIINES, Pet Crow and lots of other awesome bands as well as put on shows by bands including Bivouac, Mark Morriss, Desperate Journalist and Dream Nails. She's an author, user experience designer and digital content strategist, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Sarah is a compulsive collector of coloured vinyl, a believer in the boogie and is in love with possibilities.


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