THE HOT TONE SINNERS - TEARDROPS IN THE DARK
The Hot Tone Sinners - ‘Teardrops in the Dark’ Released July 30th 2021 Reviewed by Kate 9th December 2022 The Hot Tone Sinners are: Brian Gillman - Guitar Graham ‘Benny’ Benford - Bass Lawrie Dridge - Drums Callum Hunt - Vocals Released on Western Star Recordings. Now that 2022 is drawing to a close, it’s time to reflect on the highlights of the year. Perhaps you baked a spectacular cake, saw your favourite band or finally saved up enough money to get a Gretsch. While I love reviewing new recordings hot off the digital presses, sometimes it’s satisfying to look back on a slightly older release and see how far a band has come. Originally formed in January 2020 by former members of the Caravans and the Elevators, sadly Hot Tone Sinners couldn’t play live for rather a long time. However, determined to make the best of things, they rehearsed in an empty house on a building site and with the help of the fine people at Western Star Recordings they put together this absolutely stunning album right at the end of the pandemic. Now, a year on, they finally get their moment in the sun: they’ve just played a fantastic set at the Boat Shack in Bromsgrove and they’re heading to the mighty Boomerang Club in north London tomorrow (10th December 2022). It’s a bluesy, country, dark and light masterpiece and deserves re-listening to again and again. The Reaper: opening with a doomsday preacher voice and strong, gospel tones is a bold move and it pays off. This could have been recorded in any decade, and this song’s menacing demo energy is the best song that Delta Bombers haven’t recorded yet. A cat song like no other. Trapped Too Long: They are not afraid of distortion or channelling their inner sixties cowboys, and I greatly appreciate both those facts. The snare rolls from Lawrie are like the clanging ankles of a chain gang and this song is equal parts light and oppressive, and the space for a short bass solo is appreciated. Burn that Mother Down: Classic Rock with a gorgeous guitar riff. If you look around at your everyday life and think “yeah, I’m so over this”, then this is the song for you. Callum’s semi-whispered ‘listen to me, children’ and declaration that ‘I’m a killer’ builds up this badass outlaw character. Open the Door: did we need more bass? Yes we did! Slap bass for days and throaty blues on this little number, and bonus points for the use of the term ‘tomcattin’. Alone & Cold: sixties beats and guitar strokes like a descending lift on the grooviest tune about the inevitability of death you’ll hear this century. Link up: oh, those ripples on the guitar are glorious! This instrumental dips it’s toes into the cold Surf. Jackalene: a smooth love song about a ‘foxy lil lady’. Part of the Hot Tone Sinners’ charm is how very stripped back everything is, capturing the sound without anything unnecessary. If I was asked to pick a song to sum up the Western Star sound, it’d be this one. Myself & I: a song of contentment in solitude, blending the spirit of ‘Sittin on the Dock of the Bay’ with whatever cologne Shakin Stevens prefers. The jaunty, hopping bass gives much needed summer vibes. So Long: so terribly catchy, it’s a very fun breakup song with brilliant usage of backing vocals. This has to be the dancing track from the album. Poison: sadly, not an Alice Cooper cover, but it is probably my favourite song on the record. “I’ve got a mouth like a cobra, spitting out venom, poison….’ sings Callum and his little stutters make this tale of an epic hangover that much more real. Stay: a piano stalks the background of this creepy little tube about obsession. They can do daytime songs and switch to dark, midnight beat numbers so quickly without compromising their sound. Live in Fear: sharper tones in this cloudy, dreamy prison song. I love the bite in Brian’s guitar solo and the ups and downs in volume and intensity. Teardrops in the Dark: hints of Elvis come into this proper RocknRoll number about crying yourself to sleep. The most upbeat sounding songs on this record come with the darkest lyrics and that kind of playfulness sets Hot Tone Sinners apart from their rivals. The breakdown on the bridge in this one is fantastic. Believer: to finish, we’re heading back onto the range to bring the cattle back to the ranch and walk the Green Mile. A quiet, peaceful ending with acoustic guitar and a focus on Callum’s voice, and who doesn’t love a good execution song? Take the time this weekend to really sit down and listen to the intricacies of this album, if you aren’t fortunate enough to be able to catch them live. It’s absolute dusty gold, the kind that you may need to prospect for, or pan through a muddy river to get to, and the flights between lo-fi country and blues are effortless. If it’s not one of your albums of the year, it will be now.