I came across some mighty fine rock and blues albums from Vancouver musicians last year, Rich Hope's I'm All Yours and Robert Connelly Farr's Dirty South Blues being prime examples. But my fave local release of 2019 has to be Bottle Rockets and Cherry Bombs, the upcoming (November 12) release by Rock N' Roll Circus.
The MVP here appears to be guitarist, pedal-steel player, and harmonica ace Scott Smith, who wrote three of the 10 songs and cowrote the other seven. His tasty slide-guitar impresses throughout, and he earns brownie points by taking a shot at Dickhead Donald on the funkified "The Big Lie": "Here comes a man, says he's a friend, he's gonna make his country great again. They're gonna get high, on the big lie."
Smith's songwriting abilities and six-string skills may stand out, but, as is the case with all worthy rock 'n' roll acts, it's a group effort. Vocalist Christopher Woudstra, guitarist Aaron Moser, bassist Jeremy Holmes, drummer John Oulton, and percussionist Liam MacDonald all do their part in putting a winning shine on the band's rootsy, '70s-style guitar-rock, which is heavily indepted to the Faces and the Stones, with nods to the Black Crowes and AC/DC here and there. The music also benefits greatly from sweet vocals on two tracks--including the leadoff single "Annabella"--by No Sinner's exceptional Colleen Rennison.
Also stepping in to lend a hand on Bottle Rockets and Cherry Bombs--which was recorded by John Raham and Erik Nielsen at Afterlife Studios, formerly Mushroom--are vocalist Ashley Grant, La Chinga's Chris Read on background vocals, and in-demand keyboardist Darryl Havers. The album is dedicated "in loving memory to Doug McNicol".