Devil Rides White Horses LP

I’ll be honest here, I like this album. In fact, I like it quite a lot but not because of the usual trappings generally accepted as being the hallmarks of a great long player. Its not packed full of monster hits, it’s not going to take the album chart by storm and, hell, it may not even make it into my top five playlist for the next month. However, what it will do is not let me forget it for a long time.

Put it this way, every time I ponder the bulging ranks of my CD collection this little beauty will be looking back at me wondering whether I’m brave enough to uncover another one of its gems, because gems there are a plenty on this disc. The problem is though, there is no obvious and immediate sparkle to most of tunes but nearly every one, once you’ve gotten through it’s rough and uncut shell, shines like a little treasure.

Take the opening song and album title track ‘Devil Rides White Horses’. Here we have acoustic rock of the edgy and spicy variety.

Starting with a delicate synth melody, the piano comes in with a sinister build to the point the background hiss overpowers all before dissolving instantly and revealing Mr Tenderhook in his naked glory. The track is a glaring contrast between the twisted verse and the conventional big chorus which could potentially jar if it wasn’t for the vocal quality which really draws you in.

Lying between a less tuneful version of Jim Morrison and Nick Cave, Tenderhook’s voice (or Markus Leinweber as he’s known during the day) has the sort of edge which makes up for its limitations in much the same way Johnny Rotten managed with the Pistols. I’m not saying for one second that its punk but its got that angry and desperate underbelly which makes you sit up and listen as you know its got something to say. And something to say it certainly has; from trying to avoid the electric chair by careering through the night at 120 mph to outrun the cops (‘Get To You’) to finding himself naked in a corridor at 4 am after being kicked out by his suspicious lover (‘Jealous Love’), Tenderhooks has got plenty to tell us about the darker side of life.

Musically things also take a series of interesting twists and turns as crackers like the synth driven chill out electronica of the gloriously barking ‘Ornamental Garden’ manage to sit quite comfortably alongside more conventional tracks like the slide led, Southern guitar blues of ‘Glass Bubble’.

In fact every song is something of a journey which starts out along familiar lines but nearly always takes a detour for the unexpected leaving it invariably impossible to pin down. And that, quite simply, is the beauty of it.

If you have a liking for Nick Cave with a hint of Zappa, a splash of Lou Reed, a smidgen of Beck and a whiff of Tom Waits then this slightly rocky, slightly melancholic, slightly mental but wholly original album maybe just the thing you’ve been looking for.

Written by Habert on

Pete Habert was sub-editor for The Mag and co-ordinated submissions from the swarm of writers that contributed articles from their local music scenes.

Discover More Music