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Blues with some serious attitude

Demonophonic Blues
Demonophonic Blues
By Tony C. & The Truth

Lava Records: 2004

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This review first appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of Turbula.

Think Kid Rock meets Buddy Guy and Isaac Hayes with early Aerosmith at a jam. Or maybe we could call it hip-hop blues metal.

Whatever it is that Tony C. & The Truth are playing on their debut, "Demonophonic Blues," there's damn little like it anywhere else. It is immediately familiar, like love at first listen, yet those elements that seem so very familiar come from such disparate sources that you wonder how on earth the result can sound so much like an old friend.

In instrumentation and overall sound, the band reminds a bit of B.B. Chung King and the Buddaheads – thick, heavily distorted blues with a touch of psychedelia to it. Tony C.'s vocals are as rough as a gravel road on bare feet on a hot summer day, and sound quite a bit like Neal Black or the late John Campbell, both of whom had a couple of cult-fave acid blues releases in the '90s.

In attitude and swagger, Tony C. and his band borrow freely and well from '70s heavy blues bands like Savoy Brown, the Allman Brothers or Humble Pie. Stylistically, it takes that deep blues groove those bands had and adds a contemporary urban edge to it: '90s rap and hip hop with a little Guns N' Roses glam metal from the '80s.

With its heavily distorted twin guitars (Jason Moscartolo and Patrick Halley), double-time blues beat, rap vocals and samples, this is perhaps the most completely distilled American urban music yet laid down.

Now that's all fine and dandy, but if you don't have some decent songs to throw all that attitude and talent into, you're still wasting your time. But if not Lennon and McCartney, Tony C. and his band do have a knack for turning out addictive little anthemic rock 'n' roll/hip hop songs – near-perfect cruising songs that just sound better coming out of your car stereo than they ever will at home.

From the updated heavy blues of "Whom I Are" to the alt blues of "Little Bit More" and the country-tinged boogie of "Ball and Chain," nearly every song has a tight little melody, a memorable refrain, and a couple of guitar riffs to get stuck in your head. Find yourself a time machine, go back to when we still had real radio in this country, and half these songs would be huge FM hits.

Those days are gone, of course, but for anyone who misses the double-guitar attack of '70s arena rock, yet who also digs some of the newer stuff, Tony C. & The Truth is the absolute goods.