When Rob McCutcheon’s wailing vocals and the twin guitar attack of Bud Carroll and Josh Gragg enter on ‘Walk On’ it’s immediately obvious that you’re about to witness something special.
This self-titled debut album release from West Virginia based quartet ‘American Minor’ is a swaggering southern rock extravaganza. Sounding like the Black Crowes could’ve sounded like if they weren’t too busy being the Black Crowes, ‘American Minor’ grabs its listener and leads them through a maze of 60s and 70s blues rock. Although the duel lead guitar sound does conjure up images of southern rock giants The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd in their heyday, American Minor’s socially conscious, well crafted songs set them apart from such comparisons. It is very much their own sound.
The album’s first single ‘Buffalo Creek’ is a good example of their songwriting style, describing the 1972 collapse of a faulty dam at Buffalo Creek Coal Company, near their hometown, which killed and injured thousands of people. The band’s political consciousness is highlighted on the outstanding ‘One Last Supper’, taking a critical look at the death penalty, with Carroll and Gragg trading goliath blues licks.
Each song has a story at its core, and vivid larger than life characters created by the band but based on real life experiences, such as ‘Mr. Queen’, the fact based account of a neighbour who tried to commit suicide. Another notable highlight of the album is the beautifully blues-drenched ‘All My Time’, a personal favourite.
All songs are driven along by the band’s trademark guitar duo sound backed up by the thunderous rhythm section. But the main focal point of the album is gritty lead singer, McCutcheon’s soulful delivery, capable of unleashing an explosive howl one minute and a world weary blues moan the next.
Surely a band to watch out for in the future, this album promises much and delivers more with each new listen.