Beaux Gris Gris and the Apocalypse greet Good Times End Times

Beaux Gris Gris greet Good Times End Times

Beaux Gris Gris and the Apocalypse greet Good Times End Times a wonderful album packed with fresh, rewarding and loveable songs that, with the excellent instrumentation, will satisfy music lovers across many genres.

Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful album packed with fresh, rewarding and loveable songs that, with the excellent instrumentation, will satisfy music lovers across many genres.

Space ships circle a road of skulls, a decimated forest and two figures sit on snake encircled chairs with bouquets for heads…that’s just the artwork. When you get into the music from Beaux Gris Gris and the Apocalypse on their latest release, Good Times End Times, things get even more interesting. (There’s no definitive reason, that I could find, as to the origin of their name, so I let my warped mind run free: Beaux means a male admirer or a dandy; Gris means grey but gris gris means a charm or amulet or even a fetish…add that together and I’m still confused, I’ll settle for Charming Admirer or perhaps Dandy Fetish!)

Always a fascinating band, formed around the partnership of Robin Davey and Greta Valenti around 2010, they are always worth a listen…and to ‘get’ this imaginative pair, I mean listen. If you aren’t aware of the band, you have heard Robin: he was the driving force behind The Hoax (and wrote the brilliant track, Bones, covered wonderfully by Joanne Shaw Taylor on her White Sugar album); he was at the forefront of The Bastard Fairies (check out Memento Mori) and, with Greta, was behind yet another playful titled band, Well Hung Heart. That episode in their musical journey produced three albums: Young Enough To Know It All (2013), Go Forth and Multiply (2014) and EP Well Hung Heart (2016), all of which are really worth listening to.

The pair are also acclaimed film/video creators via their Grow Vision studio and Ian Siegal’s latest video for the oh so clever I’m The Shit is just one superb example.

Back to their current venture and BGG’s third release after the Appetiser EP and the brilliant Love and Murder album. The ethos behind it all is perfectly summed up by Greta: “The collection of songs from this entire album were born out of a time of darkness, isolation, depression, frustration, and pure survival over the past two years.” That doesn’t mean they’re bleak or negative, just that they reflect on and about these difficult times.

The opener, Fill Me Up, doesn’t disappoint as the band combines blues grit with funk and soul and each band member plays their full and distinctive part…the end result is an irresistible song that has join in chorus and a cappella section, a great riff, a guitar and piano solo of real imagination. To keep you guessing, Bungalow Paradise starts with brushed drums and Greta sings sweetly of looking at a caveman from the said bungalow. Listen to the complex backing as the piano, bass and guitar flourishes are so clever. The blues then joins in properly with an exquisite slide solo that is about three hours too short.

Alone is piano-led, soulful and bluesy with a snare/foot drum pattern seemingly at odds with the gentle ballad but, when it picks up for a piano sound burst, it all kind of makes sense…no guitar though. Trouble Is Coming is modern old blues that is genius from the first snare hit, via the great riff and vocals with clever piano ‘plinks’ added seemingly at random…the lamentably short solos are inspired too: electric piano and either the tremolo arm on Robin’s guitar nearly came off or there’s judicious theremin use! The closing chord-based guitar to the close is genius too.

Is This The Blues opens with the bass introducing a jazz-based riff and Greta speaks the first few verses…once again the guitar and piano stay subtle before the riff pins it. The lyrics ask the title’s question repeatedly and carry a strong message. It is the blues but with added punk and again falls under the irresistible label. A surprise awaits with the poppy Gris Gris that starts with a melody that will (pleasurably) worm its way into your mind before the lyrics suggest we “raise a glass, take a sip, it’s time for the apocalypse”…so maybe this explains the name? Anyway, catchy undersells this fun song with a brilliant barrelling piano solo heralding a chorus ready for us all to join in and then a horn backed guitar solo that is technically brilliant as well evoking the 60s blues.  Watching the World Fall Down is a multi-layered pop, blues, and rock blend that needs a few listens to appreciate fully. The first listen makes it sound like a Eurovision chorus driven song but, after a few listens, the musicianship and depth behind the lovely vocals is superb and the guitar sliding away is stunning.

The final track, Lucid, starts all brushed snare, neat bass and piano before Greta brings emotion and passion to the slow blues, bordering jazz, ballad-like approach. With lines like “You’re a man in a woman’s world”, I am not going to try to interpret because, as my wife attests…I’m always wrong! It is a beautiful song and the slide guitar solo is simply fabulous with deft and imaginative use of the bottleneck. The drama and tension that the piano solo and closing section brings is a testament to this bands abilities and musical nous.

This is a great album that happily transcends blues, pop, rock and jazz as the band’s diverse influences coalesce in a joyful; and cohesive way…so if you want standardised or ‘pure’ versions of those genres, it won’t be found here. However, you’ll be depriving yourself of a refreshing take on any and all of them.

Beaux Gris Gris and the Apocalypse greet Good Times End Times

Track listing:
Fill Me Up
Bungalow Paradise
Trouble Is Coming
Is This The Blues
Gris Gris
Watching the World Fall Down

Greta Valenti  –  Lead Vocals
Robin Davey  –  Lead Guitar
Stephen Mildwater  –  Bass / Keys / Vocals
Emma Jonson  –  Piano / Keys / Vocals
Mark Barrett  –  Drums

Alex Jefferis – trumpet, Patrick Leith – tenor saxophone on Gris Gris
Ali Coyle – backing vocals on Alone

Connect with Beaux Gris Gris and the Apocalypse across SOCIAL MEDIA
Official Website
You Tube

(iTunes got up to its coincidental tricks…having recently reviewed Bernie Marsden’s new single (the Beck Bogert Appice version of Black Cat Moan), I was treated to more BBA and chose the bluesy Livin’ Alone…genius.)

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