Clunk and Sputter. That is the title of Deadpan Alley's debut CD set to be released in the summer of 2014. It is also the sound of well-worn, powerful machinery.
Guitarist Bob Keelaghan and drummer Jason Woolley, are half the team that delivered Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir's first two CDs. (Keelaghan still remains a member when the band gets around to playing.) That Canadian band is a cult favourite among fans of blues and country music steeped in tradition, but seasoned with irreverence and rambunctiousness. They are joined by Rob Oxoby: virtuoso bassist, leader of the Bobby Cork Orchestra, former member of San Francisco's psychobilly legends The Mutilators, and go-to sideman when Cousin Harley is in Calgary.
(Close observers of the Calgary scene will also note the trio are the remains of the short-lived, but beloved Hollow Brethren.)
In Deadpan Alley, they dig in the same dirt as the Agnostics, mining early 20th century blues and country for fuel, but they take it several steps further by throwing in gypsy jazz, hypnotic electric blues trances, and, obviously, the ragged edge of underground rock.
While there are noticeable similarities to AMGC, Deadpan Alley take the music further out, conjuring images of electric juke joints and out-of-body-experiences in the stratosphere.
Keelaghan, who has earned himself a reputation as an underground guitar hero, shows his six-string range with hyperkinetic electric slide, high speed gypsy scales, Delta finger picking, and fiddle tunes simulated for an acoustic guitar. Woolley and Oxoby match his musical chops by bashing out skillful, tribal, trash can rhythms and furious stand-up bass runs.
Clunk and Sputter is a wild ride that seems as if it could crash at any time, but Deadpan Alley deliver the punk-blues goods with a high stakes poker face.