James Johnston is a busy man, lending guitar and organ to The Bad Seeds, Big Sexy Noise and Faust but, for over 20 years, Gallon Drunk has been the howling baby he always returns to. Their first album since 2007’s The Rotten Mile sees the group down to a trio after bassist Simon Wring passed away last year; multi-instrumentalist Terry Edwards and drummer Ian White join Johnston, pitching in with a rare fury on what they describe as an angry album. It could also quite possibly be their best yet.
Opening track and single You Made Me sets the scene with its lurching swagger and Link Wray guitar interjections; Hanging On further overloads the racket quotient continued on raw boomers such as Killing Time, while The Big Breakdown reaches into stinking gutbucket blues. Elsewhere, the sleaze-defining organ-sax riff combination of I Just Can’t Help But Stare demonstrates the advantage of using a producer for the first time (the album was helmed by Johann Scheerer at Hamburg’s analogue Clouds Hill studios).
Underground Railroad’s Marion Andrau adds her haunted vocals to the atmosphere-drenched Stuck In My Head and The Perfect Dancer’s shimmering swamp-pulse, winding up a major return for the Drunk and one hell-raising argument for non-digital grit. It’s probably best appreciated on the heavyweight vinyl format also available.