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Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Be Good Tanyas – A Collection

There was a place in the seminal comic 2000AD’s Judge Dredd story called the Cursed Earth. It was a radiation ravaged desert outside the walls of Mega City One exclusively inhabited by mutant hillbillies, mutant spiders and all kinds of other mutants. I seriously doubt the Be Good Tanyas hail from the Cursed Earth in reality, but in a musical sense they are fully fledged passport holding citizens.

What they’ve done is written the perfect sound track for life in the post apocalyptic radioactive wasteland. It’s off kilter Americana with a sour mashed flavour that takes the deep south template favoured by Caroline Herring and mutates it into a banjo fuelled, skiffle infused hybrid that is as disturbing as it is beautiful. When Judge Dredd stumbles on a group of mutated hobos clustered around an oil drum fire, this is what they were listening to.

In reality they come from Canada which is less romantic but probably better for them. Every track is a little country meets bluegrass gem and to name but a few; ‘Scattered Leaves’ is a lilting leftfield ballad, ‘Draft Daughters Blues’ is wholesome and chunky blues and ‘The Littlest Birds’ defies you not to sing along. My personal favourite is the stark, banjo meets that unique vocal style of ‘Only in the Past’ and then the fiddle kicks in. Having said that, the entire collection is not too shabby. 

Unusual, original and glorious, the Be Good Tanyas are a folk band I’ll be keeping an eye on in the years to come. A rich and varied collection just as at home in the North of England or in a post nuclear irradiated fictional desert. They also have the despairing look of a group that may also give us an interview?

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