Well, you can’t accuse the Seattle bar band Massy Ferguson of trying to hide their influences on their new album Victory & Ruin. Toe-tappingly infectious opener Hello! shamelessly borrows the chugging riff from the Dandy Warhols’ Bohemian Like Me and the terrific pedal steel soaked album closer Bring Something Back is adorned with Eagles feathers. In-between their jangling, ringing, twanging guitars and Ethan Anderson’s dust in the throat heartland voice variously conjures The Jayhawks (Renegede, Compromised Intentions), Drive By Truckers (Labour In Vain), Jason and the Scorchers (Flexed Arm-Hang), The Long Ryders (2AM Beauty Queen) and, on The Hard Way, where they’re joined by Zoe Muth, it’s a bit like Emmylou duetting with The Band.
But then, they’re not looking to reinvent the alt-country wheel, but rather to revel in its strengths. As such, they’ve clearly been bench-pressing because, while it may be derivative, this is one hell of a fine album that crackles with instant hooks and melodies, has an effervescence of choruses and boasts a fistful of damn fine blue collar songs into the bargain. And, just to show they can think outside the box too, the wistfully lovely mortality-themed ballad Apartment Downtown features simple acoustic guitar accompanied by burnished cello. Visit their website and, climaxing in a Crazy Horse like guitar break, you get a free download of their splendidly ragged, organ-backed cover of Gillian Welch’s Wrecking Ball, too.
This is apparently their third album and I hang my head in shame that I’ve not encountered them before. Now I’m caught in their, ahem, tractor beam, It’s not a mistake I’ll be repeating.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released on Spark & Shine, out now