Norfolk roots-rockers The Vagaband launch third album
- Credit: Sarah Jane
Americana meets The Beatles' White Album as the roots-rock eight-piece release Something Wicked This Way Comes, which gives sounds of the USA a very British twist.
There sound may have echoes of Americana but Norfolk ensemble The Vagaband are drawing on UK influences as they release their third album.
The eight-piece roots rock band — whose line-up boasts an impressive and varied array of instrumentation, everything from pedal-steel guitar to flugelhorn, mandolin, fiddle and clarinet — draw inspiration from both sides of the Atlantic to incorporate Americana, Celtic folk rock and vaudeville into a whole that gels into an unmistakable sound of their own.
Their third release, Something Wicked This Way Comes, is released on March 16 on CD and download via Eggsong Recordings, and is being marked with a special free launch party at The Reindeer, on Dereham Road in Norwich, on March 17.
The follow-up to their debut album Town & Country and 2014's Medicine For The Soul, Something Wicked This Way Comes mixes widescreen Americana with New Orleans jazz, folk, blues and beyond. Yet there's also a more home-spun sound at work here too, the hook-laden melodies and a gritty soulful feel that evokes a golden era of British rock. Think Americana meets The Beatles' White Album.
Recorded during the political heat of 2016 and 2017, a sense of foreboding flows through the 10 tracks. There are satirical jibes, comic cynicism (Spiritual Man), epic ambient rockers (An Eye For An Eye which features a stunning guest vocal from Yve Mary Barwood of Morganway) and full frontal assaults (Not My Day To Die).
Singer-guitarist José McGill said: 'This album is about American cultural imperialism on our own turf. 'Black Friday', cinema, our fixation on US politics - it's all around us. We're becoming the UK of A.
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'The sound of this album embraces the music of America but retains a British pride. In 'There'll Only Be One Elvis' I'm singing about Costello not Presley. This makes me chuckle.'
The Norwich-based band also includes Greg Cook on piano; Patrick Arbuthnot on pedal steel guitar; drummer Dan Reynolds; Ali Houiellebecq, who plays saxes, clarinet, flute & whistle; bassist Tristan Roche; Hugh Stanners, on flugelhorn, trumpet and squeezebox; Noel Dashwood on dobro and harmonica; and Joe 'The Bow' Wright playing fiddle and mandolin.
They have built up a strong following both in Norfolk and farther afield, where they have shared festival stages with the likes of The Handsome Family, Fairport Convention and Dodgy.
In 2013 they were listed in The Alternate Root's poll of top 20 New Roots Bands of Europe. In 2015, U.S. band Ween asked the band to remix material from their Chocolate & Cheese album, announcing the result as 'genius'.
Pedal steel guitar legend BJ Cole is also a fan enthusing: 'I've been a huge fan of the Vagaband and their leader Jose McGill, ever since the release of their first album, Town & Country.'
As well as the album launch gig the band also have a string of upcoming live dates in Norwich, Casiter, Coltishall, Geldeston and more.
• More information about the band and live dates at thevagaband.co.uk