Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The Bailey Hounds - Along the Gallows
Lately when I want that part of my brain tickled, I've been reaching for Along the Gallows, the debut full-length album by The Bailey Hounds. Uh-huh. I like this one a lot. Ironically, I discovered this band via Pantera's Phil Anselmo, who shared a video of them playing an extremely unique cover of "The Great Southern Trendkill". Now I have another reason to thank Anselmo and I'm including the video here, along with an acoustic version of the title track from the album.
Philly's The Bailey Hounds have been called indie-folk or even alt-country, but I prefer 'cemetery blues', like the band members say. I think that describes them, and Along the Gallows, much better.
From their press kit: "The Bailey Hounds are an open grave in autumn or a dilapidated cabin in the dead of winter. Old sounds of Americana peak through their often melancholy & sometimes raucous collection of tunes stirring up images of withered cemeteries, lost love, and the devil Himself. The Bailey Hounds fall somewhere in the musical realm of Gothic Americana, playing folk & blues-inspired songs with lyrics of a melancholy and often macabre nature."
Ryan Pedrillo (vocals, guitar) is an accomplished songwriter/lyricist and has one of the most calming and reassuring voices I've ever heard. I say that even though I don't usually put a huge focus on vocals. Every once in a great while, though, a voice will touch me like no other and I'll be sure to let you know, just like I'm doing now. Ladies, you might even start to cream your jeans when you first hear this guy, so prepare yourselves.
"Along the Gallows is an album we've been waiting to make and release for a while," Pedrillo told me. "We worked on these songs and reworked them and explored opportunities in the studio and ended up with what we feel is a cohesive work, representative of the styles of music we enjoy writing and listening to. Americana is woven throughout, and there's some dirt and grit rubbed in there, too. Circus freaks and gravediggers. Ghosts of the Civil War and Satan. A few headstones pokin' through the grass here and there. Yeah, we're pleased it's finally out, and we've started working on our next batch of songs."
I'm happy it's out, too, and I can't wait for more. Honestly, I could tell I was gonna love their music when I first heard The Bailey Hounds play that Pantera cover. Along the Gallows might the only Americana-infused album on my portable music player, but that's okay with me. It's fulfilling enough.
Harmonica and a delicate drum beat greet me instantly on "Those Devils Don't Scare Me", a wonderful opening track, but like a lot of albums, one of my favorites ends up being the last song. "Devil Tree" is touching and sweet-sounding musically and gets kinda psychedelic near the end, but I think the lyrics are definitely some of the darkest on the album. I wanna climb that tree.
"Devil Tree was originally going to be a straightforward acoustic track, contrasting the Satanic imagery of the lyrics with a soft, melodious tone," Pedrillo said. "I think I had Lars von Trier's Antichrist in my head while writing this...along with 15 years of listening to Pantera, White Zombie, and Danzig, I suppose. Anyway, we started playing it as a band in the basement and it just progressed and developed into its own beast. Lyrically, there's a lot of personal stuff going on, but on the surface, you know, there's some Alighieri in there...with some Anton LaVey too, of course."
There isn't one song out of the 11 on Along the Gallows that I even think about skipping over, but a couple other standouts to me are "Malleus Maleficarum" and "Gold & Bones". I don't know exactly why, but these two touch me so deeply on an emotional level that I do end up wiping away a few tears, and I'm not bashful about admitting it. I 'm too lazy to look it up for myself, so I have to ask what the first one means.
"Malleus Maleficarum literally translates into "The Witches' Hammer", The Bailey Hounds frontman said. "The 'Malleus Maleficarum' was essentially a witch hunter's manual created by two inquisitors in the 15th century and was used for prosecution, persecution, and determining whether or not someone was, in fact, meddling in the dark arts. This is one of the earlier songs written for the album, but I recall giving it that title almost immediately after writing the first verse. I wrote this a few days before leaving for Scotland for a year. Anyway, witches & wolves...aye."
Aye, indeed. Now, I'll admit that I don't listen to a lot of music that's labeled 'Americana', and maybe you don't either. Maybe you've never listened to it. Well here's your chance, people, but once you let The Bailey Hounds sink their teeth into your emotions, you might not want them to ever let go. Don't say I didn't warn you.
You can stream and buy Along the Gallows at The Bailey Hounds site . They're also offering their Bob Dylan cover, "Don't Think Twice, It's All right", for free download. I highly recommend you get both the album and the single, and if they would've recorded that Pantera cover, I'd say get it, too.
Excuse me, but I have the sniffles now and I need to go blow my nose.