It's time to bring you a couple more new albums, one a retrospective from that old blues-rocking Texas band, Omar & the Howlers; the other a debut by a Norwegian band named Pristine, with soulful lead singer Heidi Solheim. Yes, that's right, Norway.
Let's begin in the land of the midnight sun, and Pristine's home town of Tromsø, Norway (where the Norse chieftain Ohthere lived during the 890s, without releasing even one CD - but that's another story).
Pristine is the band, Solheim is the sultry singer, and the CD is titled "Detoxing" (Blues News Records). It's not eaxctly right to call this intriguing music "blues-rock," although it has some of those elements. The word psychedelic has been used to describe their old-fashioned, B3-fueled, distortion-laced and ethereal musical style, and that's a little closer (man, I'd love to see a good light show behind Grace Slick again). It's also got a soulful style, with its own special nod to hypnotic, primitive-sounding instrumental work (although there is one fuzzy, hard-rocking guitar solo in the middle of "You Don't Know."
"Breaking Bad" is another bluesy-sounding romp behind soulful, lost-love vocals, almost Southern-rock-like. And on a real Southern rock-like cover, "Whipping Post," Heidi's vocals grind along in a powerful cover of the Allmans' classic. The title track is almost a flashback to '60s psychedelia with Eastern overtones and is easily worthy of a light show.
If you to put a little experimentation into your blues, you could give Pristine a try. The distorted instrumental work might give you a flashback, but Heidi Solheim's powerful vocals are real treat.
Omar & the Howlers "Essential Collection" (Ruf Records) is a two-disc set of music from live performances and studio recordings going back to the early 1990s, lookier the career of Kent "Omar" Dykes, a Texas blues-rocker born in McComb, Miss., who leans hard on the blues here.
Disc One is "The Best of" collection, with mostly live takes. Disc Two is titled "Omar's Picks" and offers a snapshot of his musical influences and favorites during his career.
These are all tough, lively blues, and if you're a fan, you've probably heard most of them. Still, it's a great overview of music he's made -- with lots of passion and grit -- and it's a great compilation of the Howlers' work. It's a very worthwhile collection.
Now to the video.
Here's Omar (one from the CD):
And just for fun - Grace Slick and one of the best rock songs ever, plus a little light show: