Music Review – The Outlaw Orchestra

Written by Dave Briggs and Deb Gardner for The Rock Asylum

outlawThe Outlaw Orchestra (Formerly Dirty Diesel Outlaw Orchestra), formed in 2016, are a powerhouse four piece, based in the Deep South UK, comprising of drums, banjo, guitar and double bass. Hard Southern Rock through to Cajun/Dixie/Country and Flamenco described as “A melting pot of styles from American Southern rock, British 70’s rock, Louisiana roots to bluegrass”.

This fantastic four piece consists of David Roux on Guitars/Lead Vocals, Ryan Smith on Drums/Percussion/Vocals, Alex Barter on Double Bass/Vocals, and Stephen Welch on Banjo. The sound is a unique blend which showcases the musical talent which each band member brings to the fold, having the musical maturity to mix high energy with moody soulful rock. With their debut ten track CD released, they have drawn comparisons with Humble Pie, The Black Crowes through to the Cosmic American country genre.

Recent accomplishments include a home territory sold out show at the Portsmouth Guildhall, packing the indoor stage at Bristol’s Grillstock Festival alongside Hayseed Dixie and The Darkness.

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Photo courtesy of three7evens photography

In 2017, the band secured an endorsement from Swedish Rock n Roll craft beer company Pistonhead lager, who added them to their artist roster of ‘bands to watch out for’! They also gained endorsement from Cloven Hoof spiced rum who will be booking them into various festivals and events across the UK in 2018.

 

Already booked to play at Planet Rock Radio’s Winters End Festival 2018 on Sunday 25th February, alongside the likes of The Quireboys, The Temperance Movement, Wayward Sons and King King! Tickets still available, click here to get yours!

Right, so let’s get down to business. The debut album……here’s our opinion of this offering.

Too Much Willie Nelson is a spectacular opener with a typical country blues feel to it, teamed with a prominent combination of harmonica and banjo in this offering which adds the deep south blues rock ‘n’ roll flavour. With reference to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash….the back story as told by David Roux…..“We did a gig at a Hippie Jam in the hills of Maui with Willie Nelsons band members. Firstly we all praised Mother Maui, standing barefoot we jammed Santana stuff and Hendrix for hours with world class players in this huge barn that was lit with cosmic lighting. We were paid in a huge bunch of Willie Nelsons own weed. Upon returning to the apartment we got wasted so hard on this weed that we couldn’t even move and tried in vain to write a country song, it was so awful. My pal Buzzy’s wife Trish walked in and said ‘country song, lets hear it……. I’m telling you….. you guys….WAY too much Willie Nelson and not enough Johnny Cash’….the rest is history.” Hangin Tree is a fast paced foot stomping, heart racing, brace twanging, docey-doeing number that grabs you from the opening twang of the banjo and proceeds to drag you forcefully by the seat of your pants through the rest of the song. Even though you will think to yourself, “What the fuck just happened?” You will have a face wide grin. The astounding banjo demonstration in this track demands you to listen.

Whiskey Drinking Liar brings things back down to steadier pace, with some country blues to get down to. The gravelly vocals combined with the harmonica and bluesy beat sets this track apart from the rest. Once again the banjo finishes it off nicely. There’s so much going on in this track, you can pick something new up on each listen. Another World starts off with a tireless drum beat and bass line to get you going. Soon joined by guitar, banjo and harmonica, this is yet another foot tapping addition. Heavily laden with banjo that would raise the dead towards the end, this song relays how things could be different and that you should take advantage of opportunities. Chicken Bones opens with some extravagant mouth organ playing and slide guitar before being accompanied by the other instruments in an impressively complex arrangement throughout the rest of the track. The lyrics tell the story of someone detailing their intent for someone who has wronged them. The track successfully sways from a quick pace to a controlled tempo, before jumping back into a pleasing musical melee. Voodoo Queen starts out with an eerie intro, which feels like a western style saloon situation. Once in, the story, told by the amazing vocals of David Roux accompanied by a harmonica unfolds, until we are treated to a delivery of thundering southern blues interbred with  manic Latin pandemonium which repeatedly astounds you with the exceptional talent on display throughout. David explained what this track is all about. “It’s about a boy who was the bastard son of a preacher and a whore who are in fact father and daughter. Being hidden under the floorboards for the best part of a decade he escapes and hitches a ride on a midnight train that runs into downtown New Orleans whereby he seeks out an opiate addicted beautiful black Cajun fortune teller to seek reason to his future the result being that she takes him on a wild out of body trip by blowing her opium smoke into his face which is audibly replicated by the band with a fast Latin crescendo of musical mayhem.” 

 

Burn the House is dominated by some great blues style guitar riffs from beginning to end. Fantastic vocals are flaunted throughout the track, between the shots of intricate guitar work, which then morph into a guitar and banjo motif that will blow your mind. Send Some Whiskey Home leans nearer to a typical blues rock ‘n’ roll venture, feeling more like it’s accompanied by the occasional bit of harmonica, or banjo and fits in well. A complimentary sound that works well with the main style of the album. Dominant drum beats keep the track together between the varied instrumental displays. It Ain’t Right throws you back into a great musical concoction, relaying the message of just because some things aren’t always wrong, doesn’t mean that you can consider it to be OK. After a small slowed interlude part way through, we’re off again via a superb guitar spot leading to the final portion of another entertaining track. Brand New Day is the final track and is a solid conclusion to the album. It narrates a change in direction and starting over after some less than favourable times. This has a deeper feel to it with some traditional rock guitar riffs teamed with banjo motifs which gives a bit of meat to the bones of this song. The awesome vocals and accomplished guitar work towards the end help celebrate the end of this outrageous shindig of an album.  Heavy, hillbilly, blues, southern, country, oh my god, rock n roll.

Review  – The Devil Made Me Do It EP – release date 2nd February 2018

This soon to be released collection demonstrates that the band have evolved into much more than an unforgettable ‘novelty’ into a deeper, more palatable sound which will appeal to a wider audience than the original material (even though that was fantastic!) Back to Georgia as with previous material flaunts the suberb banjo throughout, but this time the hefty guitar is up there with it, meaty riffs, funky dixie beats along with the gritty vocals make this tune my favourite track so far. Here’s what David had to say about this one. “Myself and my girlfriend were just outside Birmingham Alabama a couple of years back when I woke to a flat tire. We were due back in Atlanta Georgia to catch a flight to LA where I had a gig with a Rolling Stones tribute band as Keith Richards. After half an hour of grunting, cussing and straining laying on the burning hot dusty roadside I said to my lady ‘If I can’t get this wheel off you’d better get your ass on that road and hitch us a ride back to Georgia’, she replied “Write that down……back to Georgia, that’s a song”….the rest is history.” Laughing All The Way To The Gallows steams in at full speed with a funky beat and guitar riff which never slows. The vocals on this track command you to join in and although short, this track will no doubt stick in your head for time after the song finishes. See You In Hell sets off with intricate banjo motifs and a booming beat and bass that will soon get you stomping. Deep chunky guitar riffs join forces, creating a heavy rock variation, which when added to the sublime vocals, makes for some heavy blues rock with a unique country/dixie/blue grass edge. The incessant pounding of drums part way through, coupled with the dominating guitar suddenly urges you to rock out.

In Summary

The debut album was an enjoyable selection of blues rock ‘n’ roll soaked in a deep south flavour. Musically impressive from beginning to end. The combination of the intricate harmonica playing, nimble fingered banjo prowess and the accomplished guitar work was faultless. Although not the most harmonious lyrics, they still worked really well within this album. Right from the off I found myself tapping along to the infectious rhythm played out in every number. In all honesty, I didn’t expect myself to enjoy this album as much as I did. There are a few notable tracks that I instantly liked. Infectious and enjoyable are the two words that immediately come to mind.

Whilst I have never taken recreational drugs in my life, I can only imagine that if I did, this music would be what I would be hallucinating! Throughout the whole of the debut album, I felt high on the pure talent on display, and the ‘wackiness’ of the tunes, this band certainly give out extra large helpings of ‘hell yeah’ if you know what I’m saying. Whilst I would not have described myself as a fan of this genre of music, The Outlaw Orchestra has done a mighty fine job of picking up the music style, shaking it up in a bag full of wacky ideas, and coming out with ‘fucking awesome’.

The new material on the EP The Devil Made Me Do It is everything they already had from the first album, but with added substance and a greater emphasis on the rock elements, which for me is the icing on this already awesome cake! I am now a follower of this band, and will be making a concerted effort to see them live some time in the near future. I recommend that you guys do the same!

Rating      star rating

A message to whoever has to follow them on stage at Winter’s End (or any other gig for that matter) Top That!

If you like what you’ve heard about The Outlaw Orchestra, why not follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Click here to visit their Instagram page

 

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Reviews coming soon…….

Currently working on reviews for The Outlaw Orchestra, Third Angle Projection, and The Bad Flowers.

Oh wow these are so good, I don’t want to finish them, just wanna keep listening!

Look out for the reviews coming over the next week or so.

Thanks for your continued interest in what we do here at The Rock Asylum!