Bones Shake, a trio out of Manchester, describe their music as ‘Scuzz Blues’. Their debut album ‘Kicks’, is out now and available on iTunes on Abattoir Blues Records.
In our third Essential Weekly Playlist we ask them what songs and artists they couldn’t live without.
Iggy & The Stooges – ‘Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell’
The mix of this song and indeed the whole Raw Power album is absolutely nuts but we love it! It sounds mean and violent, all vocals and screeching guitar whilst still being able to feel the bass grooves and the drum beats. The lyrics are nasty but sexy,
‘dirty face and a dirty look, knew right away that I had to get my hooks in you’
which is definitely a theme that we try and incorporate into all of our ‘love’ songs. There are a lot of bands sighted as being the first punk band and the Stooges on this album are definite contenders, the sheer energy and aggression that explodes from the speakers on this song is unrivalled by any other band both prior and since.
Anytime we’ve been in the studio we always give this song to the engineer and say we wanna sound like that, the response is always the same ‘I can’t do that mate, its going too much in the red’…well the Stooges did it….and it sounds fucking awesome!
New York Dolls – ‘Jet Boy’
We love music from the 70s era and this band are one our favourites! They bridged that gap between glam and punk before punk was even a thing (the Pistols totally ripped their sound off), they were like a renegade Stones with a sassier/trashier Mick and Keef in David Johansen and Johnny Thunders. Johansen spits out the lyrics with a 40 a day growl while Thunders guitar pierces through the noise with an ear bleeding intensity.
They famously performed this track live on the Old Grey Whistle Test, needless to say its an awesome performance. Both their sound and look was sleazy, trashy and undeniably cool and completely gave the two fingers to the self important, self indulgent prog rock of the day.
The performance prompted ‘whispering’ Bob Harris to have a dig, describing them as ‘mock rock’, the rock part he got right, the dolls lived and breathed it.
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – ‘Backslider’
What we dig about the blues explosion is their minimalist set up and sound, 2 guitars and a drummer with no bass…like us! Despite their seemingly simple approach it’s completely original and an impossible sound to recreate, believe me we’ve tried. This song in particular captures them at their explosive best, the riff just unapologetically plays over and over but never gets tired, the drums pound hard and loud throughout while the vocals sound like someone doing an Elvis impersonation through a busted telephone. What we really like about this tune though is the guitar solo, we’ve no idea what effect it is but it sounds like he’s playing it through a distortion overdrive and then into vacuum cleaner! They evoke the spirit of the old blues originators while at the same time offering an alternative, contemporary spin on the genre, keeping the blues alive and more relevant than ever, great band!
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – ‘Stagger Lee’
This song had a huge influence on us, when we first started writing together we initially wanted everything to sound like Stagger Lee. Cave’s output is so eclectic and yet despite 15 albums under his belt and an amazing back catalogue I think it’s quite telling that he still ends his live shows with this song. The lyrics tell a story using language that is guttural, crude, offensive and yet quite beautiful,
‘I’m a bad motherfucker, don’t you know and I’ll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get one boys asshole’
The slow build in the music and along with mean delivery of the lyrics help build a real sense of menace and tension that explodes with wails and cascades of noise and distortion at the end of the song. This is a technique in song writing that we have used many a time and for us it all came from Cave’s Stagger Lee.
The Cramps – ‘Human Fly’
The Cramps were born to do one thing and one thing only and that’s play rock n roll. We’ve taken a lot from their sound, the tribal drum beats, the trashy surf guitar and we’ve definitely taken a lot from them vocally thanks to the tones and prowess of front man Lux Interior. What we love about Lux is the charisma and sheer intensity that his voices oozes on record, he means every line even when talking about being a human fly,
‘U say buzz buzz buzz and its just becuz I’m a human Fly and I don’t know why I got 96 tears and 96 eyes’
Lyrically it’s both equally inane and touching. Musically this song is incredibly simple but the way its been crafted is incredibly effective, the 2 guitars work wonders together, one playing the sleazy surf riff while the other simply drones in the background re-creating the buzzing sound of a fly while the pounding beat holds it altogether – genius!
Night Beats – ‘Puppet On A String’
We felt we should acknowledge some more contemporary artists to show that we’re current and hip even though we’re probably not. Night Beats are an awesome psych, garage band from Seattle and we had the privilege of supporting them in Manchester a couple of years ago. They’re a fantastic live band but what I love about this song and their debut album as a whole is how they’ve managed to capture that live, lo-fi sound on record. The riff in this song is sheer garage pop, there’s a wonderful surf reverb effect on the guitar (that we’ve been trying to rip off) and the vocals have an ethereal 60s vibe about them with lots of ‘ooo’s and ahhh’s’ in the backing which help give it an almost RnB pop sound while still remaining distinctly lo-fi and raw. We love ‘em and we wanna play with them again!
The Amazing Snakeheads – ‘Here It Comes Again’
We’re a bit pissed off at the Amazing Snakeheads they were one of the few recent bands that we actually liked, even NME (which is rubbish!) liked them and then they went and split up after one album. It might solidify them in rock history but either way we like this single. ‘Here it Comes Again’ is a master class in minimalist song writing, the bass and drums drive the song while the guitar clatters in sporadically and the lyrics repeat themselves over and over again building a threatening sense of dread. All these elements are devices that we have used and continue to use in our song writing and it was nice to see a modern band utilise this so well and be successful doing so. May they rest in peace, we’d have been great on the same bill together.
R.L. Burnside – ‘Let My Baby Ride’
Criminally under appreciated until the early 90s, R.L. Burnside was one of the old blues masters that we definitely cite as influence on our output. ‘Let My Baby Ride’ chugs along with a relaxed strut and a confidence that is totally be-fitting of the song and is a total lesson in less is more. We love the repetition of the main riff and the vocal line, it sucks you in and won’t let go and when a hook is that good why would you want to go anywhere else!?
The White Stripes – ‘Death Letter’
This is a superb Son House cover from the White Stripes back when they were a stripped back, pure, garage blues duo before the over produced, indulgent nonsense that came later. We love the basic sound of just the drums and guitar, Jack’s guitar tone is grimy and raw while Meg’s beats perfectly accentuate the riff and the songs intensity. The vocals are powerful yet subtle, capturing the mournfulness of the original but succeeding in making the song their own. Having the same drum, guitar, vocal setup in Bones Shake we still look to the Stripes to how to do it best and this is a great example.
Jim Jones Revue – ‘Cement Mixer’
We first saw this band back in 2009 at a tiny venue in Manchester and they blew our minds! Since then they went on to bigger and better things before finally splitting up earlier this year. This song was off their first self titled album and it’s a behemoth of a tune! The song’s groove coupled with organ riff creates a sleazy, sexy, raw, grinding stomp. The beat of the song never alters but the squealing guitar riffs and the wailing vocals provide all the songs structure and impact. The album version of the song was recorded live on a 4 track and itblasts out of the speakers often distorting the sound but like with the Stooges’ ‘Raw Power’ if it’s not going in the red then there’s something wrong!