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Henry Blacker
Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings JR Moores , February 11th, 2014 06:55

The US and the UK like to pass the title of 'Most Rockin' Nation' back and forth like some sonic Ryder Cup. Britain provided the goliaths of the 1970s (Zep, Sabbath, Who, etc.) while Alice Cooper and Kiss strutted their superficial pantomimes. Things evened up in the hair metal/NWBHM years but by the 1990s the States thrived with alt-rock, grunge, pop punk and rap-metal when across the pond everybody was getting terribly excited by 'Wake Up Boo' and 'The Ballad of Tom Jones'.

Now, finally, it looks like the ball's bounced back into GB's court (to muddle up my golf and tennis analogies). Since shedding their token lunatic, Mr Oliveri, Queens of the Stone Age have continued diluting what little squash remained in their audio beaker. Fellow stoners Dead Meadow have backed up from their 70s influences to take inspiration from lighter 60s hippy groups. Torche and Red Fang riff it up with the best of them, but can't suppress their saccharine sweet teeth. Even established intestine-rumblers Sunn O))) and Om appear to be stocking up on finger-cymbals and embracing the 'new age'.

So perhaps the time is ripe for the UK to regain its heavyweight rock title belt (oh crumbs, I've slipped into boxing now). Dundee three-piece Fat Goth gave music a stout kick up the alt-rock arse with last year's Stud. 2013 also saw Future Of The Left release their strongest record to date. Hookworms and their ilk are revitalising the psych-rock scene. Ginger Wildheart's schizo-metal Mutation project is something to marvel. Black Spiders are a tad prone to audacious cheese shapes but, hell, they're fun, they're from Sheffield, and I'd rather hear Pete Spiby's gruff voice singing something cringe-inducing than not singing at all. All of which is encouraging because, let's face it, Lemmy's not looking as indestructible as we once hoped and those are some big snakeskin boots to fill.

Henry Blacker feature two blokes from arty-metal collective Hey Colossus along with another bloke who's related to one of 'em. Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings was written in a Somerset barn and recorded by for £450 by Tim Cedar from underrated noisesters Part Chimp. "YOUR MIND IS STILL IN 1992!" they bark on the swaggeringly cantankerous 'Your Birthday Has Come and Gone'. This line could be self-criticism, yelled into a cracked and sullied looking glass. Yes, their clearest reference points dwell in that era (and geographically the American Midwest, not maraca-rattling Manchester), even down to the bold Cows/Jesus Lizard vibe of the artwork. Steve Albini's assorted activities and the perennially stimulating Melvins also come to mind, not to mention Harvey Milk's emotionally-fragile sludgework. Nothing wrong with that, so long as it's done well, and Blacker sure as hell do that.

Fuzzed-up cool-dude boogie-stomp opener 'Crab House' could be a limey cousin to Josh Homme's Desert Sessions, based in the West Country instead of Joshua Tree, deprived of Homme's rich resources, fancy-ass equipment, A-list compadres and PJ Harvey's shepherd's pie (and all the better for it). It gets really fun towards the end when the vocalist abandons his stoner croon to wobble his loose-cheeked face from side to side in close approximation of the Tasmanian Devil. This phat ditty also earns bonus points for its worthy subject matter: being eaten alive by giant crabs. 'Scumblood' headbangs along as if Fu Manchu's 'Evil Eye' has been inhabited by several raucous, foulmouthed squatters. And slow-jam 'Pearlie' is Duane Denison bad trippin' with Gene Ween in a haunted abattoir.

Catchy, meaty, grubby, and bolstered by a feral Beefheartian belligerence, what's not to like about this trio? With groups like Henry Blacker packing such a powerful punch/power serve/pitching swing, it's game on, Uncle Sam. Game on!

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