Rock: check. Groovy: check. Mind blown: well, not quite. While the added element of country made for a cool mix, Dusty Tucker‘s first LP The Northstone (after releasing some EPs in the past) left some things to be desired.
Formed in 2009, these cats from Red Deer, Alberta definitely bring energy into their music that could probably dismantle any prairie dog colony within their radius – I’ll give ‘em that.
To elaborate on my comment earlier, while I enjoyed this LP as a whole, there wasn’t anything I can say had me going, “Whoa, this is somethin’ else, man!” They have a great rock sound, I can’t deny that, but tracks like “The North Stone” and “Out Ranked, Out Gunned & Too Pretty” for instance, had that good ol’ cut and paste formula of verse, course, guitar interlude. Nothing against that, it just doesn’t usually make my ears perk up. However, the recording quality is great, despite a couple of songs having a choppy transition into the next. (Just a minor observation.)
Ok, that’s enough of my whining…well, ok, one more thing: at some points vocalist Trav James’ tones got a little too whiny for me (like in the song “CJ’s Finest”), and this seems a fitting spot to admit that. Albeit I dug his vocals overall, it’s just that at some points it was a bit much for me. Then again, I’m a picky asshole when it comes to vocals. But I digress; I gave this album a half and half rating because despite my qualms, there’s just an even amount of good to be heard.
For one, those occasional “whiny” vocals are balanced out by some awesome scream work. I really dug his style there! Some of the licks on guitar provided by Ryan “Coach” Kuly and Nathaniel Court are undeniably groovy and catchy as shit too.
A fun thing about The Northstone as a whole is that it’s a concept album, making me more engaged with it as I try to piece together the stories told in words and sounds. With some spoken word pieces thrown in like the opener “Our Hero’s Memory” and “The Best Bait For Trappin’ Witch”, the album’s closer helped with piecing the puzzle together, and it has me wanting to listen to it more to get all the details. Also, I’m curious about this Jenkins dude that’s mentioned in many of the tracks.
As a whole, this album is a cool listen; I reckon it’s the kind of music that would appeal to folks who like classic rock but with a modern edge – and some extra screaming for good measure. Stand-out tracks for me were “Half the Future” for offering a calm contemplative break, and “To Stubborn to Die (Ol’ Wichita Green)” for its stompin’ and catchy country vibe, and its great transition into heavy riffs and screams.
With over 300 live shows under their belt in Western Canada alone, I’d say it’s a safe bet that these guys are mad fun live, and I have a feeling I’d get into them more taking it in in real time. Check them out at any rate, if you’re a big fan of groovy rock I think you’ll appreciate these cats!
Written by Angie Radczenko
*edited by Kate Erickson