The Lucky Strikes 'Gabriel, Forgive My 22 Sins' Stovepony

Although it doesn't always work as an indicator I have found more often than not the better CD I hear are the ones that come in the better designed sleeves. Ones were some though and effort has been put into the packaging. The Lucky Strikes album is well packaged to be evocative of the subject matter of the CD which is the story of boxer Frankie Valentinez, a one time champion who after throwing a fight falls apart. Though reproducing the lyrics would have doubtless helped with understanding the story and I don't think they are reproduced on the website either. Musically this UK five piece are closer to the rock end of the spectrum that the country-rock one. The vocals are often give a distorted treatment and the music although it features fiddle, steel and banjo is pretty full on. The usual touchstones of Neil Young and Exile era Stones are mentioned in one of the quotes about the band but that's slightly misleading other than to place them as a rock band with roots overtones. The music has a certain energy and attraction though it's not an easy listen and at times short on melody it is big on atmosphere. A couple of times I found myself thinking of early Family, not a bad thing in truth, though lacking Roger Chapman's highly distinctive warble. When things ease a little as on Slowly The Night Fades you get a different perspective on the band and it gives a more rounded view of what is, I'm sure, in a live context a pretty abrasive experience. On record it takes a few listens to get totally in tune with the album but once you do there is the feeling that something has been accomplished with this album that is that bit different than what is happening in UK alt. country circles at the moment. A thoughtful, evocative if jarring and jagged album that will be either loved or disliked, but one that backs a punch. Not to be confused with the Austin band of the same name.