When I first heard that Dean James & The Black Dogs were releasing a full album through Forgotten City Records a few weeks back, I didn’t take much notice of it, as I was doing other reviews at the time. It was at the beginning of this week, when I was talking to some people, about up and coming gigs in the Sunderland area, thats when I remembered the Dean James gig. When I went onto the Forgotten City Records Facebook page and like the post they put up of the gig, FCR got in contact with me, to say if I wanted to come down and review the gig, and I pretty much jumped at the chance to cover it.
Before I came to the gig I checked out Dean James, just to get a feel for the music that he has created, to give myself a better insight to what he does, and from what I have heard, I quite enjoyed what I was hearing, so I was looking forward to this gig, to see if what Dean created in the studio was transferable to the live setting.
As this band came on stage, I was thinking OK what you got for me. When they started playing, they started with a some Bluesy Rock, and it was like an in your face ride that got me thinking this is going to be good, and by the end of the first song, I was like “OH YEAH”. when they started the second song “Not Yet” this was more upbeat track that got you going, and it was pretty good. As there set went on, they were playing some really good bluesy rock that could melt your face with the riffs, and some songs that you could easily chill out to, some songs I could hear some Yardbirds, Cream and Eric Clapton on some of the tracks which were performed brilliantly. They also did a new song called Honeysuckle, now with me I am hardened rocker who likes some really meaty riffs and thunderous drums and solid bass guitars, this song for me was a “Fuck Yeah” moment, Honeysuckle is one of best rock tracks that I have heard and it could be future classic.
This band, when they started playing, I was wondering where the singer was, then I saw him come out from where the dressing rooms where, dressed in a gas mask and a cape, I thought “OK, this reminds me of Killing Joke”. When they started the set properly with the music and singing, the singer was slightly off key, but over the span of their set that did give the band an edge and the charm that got me liking this band. plus it gave the band the roughness and edginess that made them stand out. As they went on with their set, I could hear some of their influences in some of the tracks, I heard some Frank Zappa, the Doors, and some bands from the San Fransisco area from back in the late 1960’s. Some tracks were bit on the slow side but they really had some pretty nice distorted riffs, some tracks were up beat and you get into these. One of these tracks was Dystopia, this was the “Fuck Yeah” moment for this band, Dystopia, was proper heavy song, the drummer and bassist were kicking arse, the guitarist was using shreds that I haven’t seen been used other than that of Zakk Wylde of The Black Label Society fame.
Dean James & The Black Dogs
If you like a bluesy acoustic southern rock style of music you would love Dean James & The Black Dogs.
Before I went to the gig, I did a bit of research on Dean James, he has been singing and playing guitar for about 10 years, and has played some big gigs such as Sunderland Soundscape (this was for the culture bid).
In February Dean James was joined by Jonathan Staff and Brendan Portues on Bass and Drums, and The Black Dogs were formed. With The Black Dogs joining Dean, the sound of Dean’s music became even better, especially live. They give the sound of the music more body, more depth.
As Dean James came on stage, I was expecting some great things from him, as I watched his video for Alive and also listened to Black Dog single. When he started to sing and play the guitar, I was completely surprised by how good he was live, and believe me when I say this, he is awesome live. As the set went on I became more and more of a fan of Dean’s.
The reason why I was becoming a fan of Dean’s is that he is a very powerful singer, in a way that he doesn’t need a mic, that is how strong his voice is.
The music that he was playing has the influences of Southern Rock, the bands that i could hear was the Allman Brothers, Nickleback and Lynard Skynard, and this is also the reason why I like him and his music.
Some of the music is dark, but for a good reason, Dean writes his music from personal experiences, because he has worked as a mental health nurse. Also some music is very up beat and dancey.
When Dean did Can’t Breathe, this was my favourite track of Dean’s, as this shows of Dean’s powerful voice, brilliant guitar playing and the song was well written and performed, I could quite happily listen to this track all day.
Well damn me, after the gig finished, Forgotten City records came around the crowd with Dean’s album selling it, well I was so impressed by Dean James & The Black Dogs so much, I had to buy the album there and then, they were that good, and in my time of going to see bands (25+ years), when you hear a band whether you hear on the radio or on a album, you think oh these are pretty good, and then you go and see them live, some artists are pretty bad live, because they just don’t know how to react on stage, most artist are really good live, and you find that some artists like Dean James, can hold a crowds attention and can interact with them.
You have to check Dean James & The Black Dogs out, Dean has an amazing voice and a brilliant band in The Black Dogs.
For Crease I would give them a 4.5 out of 5 for some really good songs.
For Lava Frog I would give them a 5 out of 5 for a really good performance.
For Dean James & The Black Dogs I would give them a 5 out of 5 for the shear power of Dean’s voice and for the musicianship of The Black Dogs.
I would love to see all the bands again.
You can get Dean James’ album Pure from Forgotten City Records, plus it will be on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes etc, from the 15th of April.
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