Nick And The Ovorols waste no time in getting down to the nitty, gritty, greasy bizness on their debut studio album Telegraph Taboo. After a second or two of frontman Nick Peraino’s guitar clearing its throat, “Take The V Train” fires up and gets underway, lurching like a half-drunk brontosaurus. When Peraino lets fly with his vocal, it’s easy to imagine a Free-era Paul Rodgers leading Led Zep through a slow and raunchy one-chord blues crawl. Drummer Lance Lewis (the one player on this album who is in the current touring lineup of the Ovorols) chases his own walloping Bonzo beats with a grunting bass line; Peraino fires off layers off snarling, growling, moaning guitar lines from all different directions. Distortion? Man, this is Hell on Earth for those poor little 12AX7 and 6V6 amp tubes. By the time “Take The V Train” bumps and grinds its way to a halt, the air is reeking of brimstone and smoldering diesel.
World, meet Nick And The Ovorols.
If you thought Gary Clark Jr.’s “Bright Lights” nailed the midnight blues vibe, Nick And The Ovorols’ “Heed The Words I Say” takes things even deeper into the darkness and bumps up the tension another notch; “Hey, Mr. President” is cut from the same cool, dark cloth. Lewis drives “Honey, Please” with a slamming beat; “Chitown Via Greyhound” chugs along like vintage ZZ Top, buzzsaw guitar and all; and “Day To Day” sounds like Peraino and his guitar were sitting in a church. (At least until the weird sonics start around 1:50 … is that a … banjo? And an accordion? No. Yes. Jesus …)
“Half Of Two” is a little bit funky and a whole lotta soul, thanks to Marcin Fahmy’s waves of keys and the gorgeous vocals of Erica Lewis-Albright and Hope Lewis-Singleton. (Peraino’s guitar tone on “Half Of Two” fluctuates in that space between candy-cane sweet and total nasty-assed). “Mojo A Go-Go” is as cool as its name and a neat example of the sort of sound texturing Peraino and co-studio wizard Erik Sraga pulled off during the sessions for Telegraph Taboo. And if “Take The V Train” was the perfect opener, “Soundtrack To Life” proves that Nick And The Ovorols are responsible enough to land you gently and safely at the end of it all: nothing says goodbye quite like some mournful slide work nestled against another guitar that sounds like Ronnie Wood’s Zemaitis on The Faces’ “Debris”. Nice.
Don’t expect a slug of flashy full-page ads in the glossies and such to announce the arrival of Telegraph Taboo – but the lack of major-label backing has no bearing on what’s to be found on this little beast of an album. These folks can play.
Brian Robbins keeps a few spare 12AX7 tubes (and his overalls) over at www.brian-robbins.com