Please Note: This is republished from 29th January 2020
Not far from Buchanan Street in the fine City of Glasgow is a small street populated mainly by bars and restaurants and may have been behind the name of an exciting new Scottish band called Anchor Lane. I know this only from my pre-retirement travels when I stayed at the Millennium and went walkabout for food and drink. I always like a connection even if it exists only in my bizarre mind, so apologies to the guys if I’m assuming incorrectly. Add in the fact that Toby Jepson is involved and I trust his judgement and skill and always seek out his production work as well as his own music. This promising involvement is rewarded when listening to the bands debut album, Casino. (There will be no gambling, gambolling or card puns: and definitely no seamen puns…promise!) The album is a follow up to their 2017 EP, New Beginning and builds on that promising base with a step up in maturity and rock awareness to provide ten tracks (only two of which break the four-minute barrier) of quality bluesy rock with, thankfully, only the odd appearance of their stated grunge influences.
Opening with Blood and Irony we are greeted by hi-hat and vocals before a neat riff cuts in and echoes the clever title. After that subtlety, a very 70s sounding and too short guitar solo heralds the quick and frantic burst of rock. Fame Shame is heavier and even better as the Jepson feel comes across in a very good way as the lyrics, rightly, lambast the un-social media types: this is a well written, structured and executed slice of proper rock with a modern edge underpinning it all. The guitar solo is inventive and fitting as it seems to scream about the pitfalls of what could be so beneficial. Next up is a frontrunner for best track…
Voodoo has that lovely 70s blues essence running throughout and a catchy chorus to join in with as well as another clever guitar solo that echoes the era perfectly. The title track, Casino, is an allegory for the music industry and the gamble the band took to give up work and dedicate all their energy into their music…thank heavens they did and, hopefully, they will stay free of the encumbrances of the less tasteful aspects of the industry. A nice piece of sustain introduces a very high-quality slice of blues-rock riff with a touch of funk thrown in and I can (nearly) forgive the lack of a solo. Clocks opens with delicious Hendrixy guitar and then a hefty, bluesy riff that soon gets into your mind and develops into a Jepson flavoured song of quality. Stone Cold Hearted continues the blues-rock but with a slower intro that opens out into a fabulous riff and then staccato playing behind the verses and returns to flesh out the chorus….no solo though. Shell Of Me is the ballad: gentle strumming with the solid rhythm section once again in total empathy. The guitar solo does arrive this time and it is well worth the wait as the subtle, not a note out of place and not too many of them, add the required atmosphere and emotions.
Flatline ups the pace again and gives us some “na-na-naa’s” to join in with…before that we get a Cozy backing and catchy as hell riff to make a very accessible song even more memorable. Dead Run opens with tasty drums and bass before the heavy riff cuts in and quietens to a chug behind the verses and then the Ricky Warwick backing vocals join in the chorus. The sustain led bridge and bass/drum runs leads to a revised riff section that should, for me have led to a fiery solo…but then I always say that. The final track, Honey, has a clever vocal melody over neat drumming before the grunge influence shows briefly and gives way to a way too short wah’d guitar piece.
In summary, then, this is a classy piece of blues-rock for today and I feel sure that their next album will be even better…especially if they lengthen a track or two to satisfy my guitar needs. Regardless, if you like modern edged, blues-themed rock, then there won’t be many better this year…and it’s still only January!
Bluesdoodles rating: Stupendous blues-rock with a modern edge
- Blood & Irony
- Stone Cold Hearted
- Shell Of Me
- Dead Run
Conor Gaffney: vocals
Lawrence O’Brien: guitar
Matthew Quigley: bass
Scott Hanlon: drums
Ricky Warwick: backing vocals on Dead Run
Recorded at Vale Studios; produced by Toby Jepson
(iTunes run on track this time supplied electric blues like wot it should be with Andy Cleveland, Jim McCarty and Top Topham playing a blinder on Drifting.)