Black Cowgirl – Black Cowgirl

Bilocation Records (Europe)
Restricted Release (US)

Review by Rick Ossian

Whilst researching a bit to write up these lads, I ran up against a few dead ends. Oh, all the usual avenues were vaguely helpful (MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, etc.), but I didn’t find out what I was really after until I ran into theobelisk.net, whose credo is evidently “if it ain’t heavy, it ain’t shit”. Well spoken, sirs, and thanks ever so much for the information on these heads-down rockers. Most of the above-mentioned sites listed their personnel as Nathan/Ben/Chris/Mark. Chalk it up to journalistic curiosity, I guess, but I wanted to know MORE. There was also some confusion as to where punters could go to get some Black Cowgirl for themselves. I was directed to iTunes, who were no help whatsoever, then to blackcowgirl.bigcartel.com/ ‘if I wanted a real CD’. Seems they’ve had a bit of a conundrum finding a proper outlet for their efforts. Well and good then, enough with the technical, boring crap. What does this disc sound like?

According to their Facebook bio, “Black Cowgirl sound like a less talented version of a imaginary supergroup composed of members of Captain Beyond, The Allman Bros, Wishbone Ash, Nirvana, Thin Lizzy and Neil Young smashing together in 60‘s Chevy vans at the intersection that Robert Johnson sold his soul at, with a Eyehategod tape in a aftermarket cassette player in one of the vans….with some Bad Company songs dubbed over the b-side of the tape….” I’d say this is a fairly apt description of their hard core, old school talents. To be accurate, I’d throw in a few other memories/bands in addition to those mentioned. Black Sabbath, in particular (Roadmaster, The RideEclipsor and Becoming Nothing) are brought to mind sonically on numerous occasions. Many others come to mind upon repeated listens, namely Foghat (the flat-out boogie of Dead Horse), Hawkwind (The Ride again), or Blue Cheer (The Ride a third time) or Uriah Heep (Roadmaster) or even the Foo Fighters (Three Seasons bears a distinct resemblance to Dave Grohl and his cohorts). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — these lads wear their influences close by, right there on their sleeves where everybody can see/hear them. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I’d say I prefer it to a lot of Metal or Hard Rock I’ve heard recently.

Ben McGuire, the vocalist, appears to be able to affect everything from a rough-and-ready version of Rod Evans (Deep Purple Mk I) to the aforementioned Dave Grohl to any one of a number of Classic Rock vocalists you may have heard. He, along with his bandmates (Nathan Rosenzweig on guitar, Chris Casse on bass and Mark Hanna on drums) sound like they are permanently entrenched in a backlog of late 60’s/early 70’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Again, I would argue that this is for the best. After all, if you’re going to emulate someone, you may as well pick some worthy Rock institutions for imitation. The only complaint that I have, if anything, is that the tunes are entirely too short. Most of these tracks hover between 2 and 4 minutes, with only Three Seasons (4:29) and The Weight of Oblivion (5:54) (check out video on YouTube) pushing the time limit at all.

Talk of Wolves sets things up for us, a bit of a waste of time, in my opinion – I mean everybody’s heard the squalling, screeching guitar-feedback intro, haven’t we? Right, then, moving along. Roadmaster is a riff-heavy, Heep-esque sort of number, while The Ride harkens back to the halcyon days of yore for Hawkwind, Blue Cheer, or Sabbath (insert your fave heavy 70’s outfit here). Alkaline, by contrast, is a Bluesy track, with the requisite doom-laden lyrics (Black is fallen/into your face/You’re going all the way…Wasting all your time/Isolation is weighing on your mind/May God forgive you for wasting all your time/ Growing old and dying slow inside). It’s that last line that really kind of struck me. This is some real Blues, not just some busker on a corner waiting for punters to come along and throw the odd bit of paper or silver or gold into your hat. Weight of Oblivion, the longest of the tracks on offer here, is almost Proggy, with its share of odd, twisting time signatures and stop-start lurches. Readers should take note here and be aware of the fact that “experts” have decreed that stop-start time signatures are bad for your heart. Yikes!

Solarizer is quite possibly my favourite. This is another Bluesy track that occasionally veers into the vaguely psychedelic, and it’s an instrumental! The closing pair, Becoming Nothing and Unio Mystica, actually segue into one another, with the latter being a mere extension/more jamming on the former. For the new(er) release version, I’m told a cover of Rory Gallagher’s I’m Not Awake Yet is also on offer! A wonderful effort from a no-nonsense outfit, then. Go out and get it!

Rating: ****/5

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