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Gallon Drunk - "The Road Gets Darker From Here"

Gallon Drunk belong to a long list of British bands who never paid attention to genres (see also: The Fall, The Sting-Rays). Singer and guitarist James Johnston often wears a belt buckle bearing the name of country legend Hank Williams but is also a member of German avant-garde outfit Faust, while saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Terry Edwards is equally at ease beefing up Madness’s sound as he is releasing comedy (yet note-perfect) adaptations of tunes by the Jesus and Mary Chain and Miles Davis.

The Road Gets Darker From Here is only the band’s seventh album (barring compilations, live albums and the Derek Raymond spoken-word album), but this is easily explained by the number of side projects Johnston and Edwards have been involved with over the years: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Faust for the former, The Scapegoats for the latter. Furthermore, over the past few years Gallon Drunk have acted as Lydia Lunch’s backing band for her Big Sexy Noise project, who played Brussels twice in the last eighteen months (Gallon Drunk 'proper' last played Belgium in October 2008).

Sadly, the road did get darker late last year with the passing of bassist Simon Wring, but this new opus finds Gallon Drunk in astounding form. From the opening fuzzed-up riff of You Made Me to the hypnotic feedback-and-organ drone of The Perfect Dancer, every facet of this most complex of bands is displayed with devastating effect. Stuck In My Head, a duet with Underground Railroad’s Marion Andrau, even bears a passing resemblance to 1997’s In The Long Still Night – a song known to have reduced grown men to blubbering wrecks.

The album is, of course, dedicated to the memory of Simon Wring. It was the most fitting, the most perfect way for the band to pay their respects and come to terms with their loss at the same time. For the rest of us, The Road Gets Darker From Here is “only” an exceptional album.

(Clouds Hill Ltd / Rough Trade)