I had no idea what to expect from this record, in fact I didn’t even know about Bootscraper before I heard it. Let it suffice to say I was unprepared for what was waiting!
The Bear and The Tiger opens with tracks written by the kings of double speed punk rock, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, being played by the thigh slapping, country rockin’ Bootscraper. Bootscraper have taken the face-melting speed of the original tracks, stripped them down to their bones and rebuilt them again as a totally new beast, all without compromising the integrity of what were already some top quality tunes. A wide and expertly balanced range or instrumentation gives the tracks a real variety and dynamic and allowing the great vocal performances to shine. I think they did a top job of putting their own spin on all three tracks, and have successfully transported me from banging my head to tapping my toe, all with a smile on my face. My favourite on this side has to be ‘Captain Gin Vs Victory Gin’ for just being a culmination of all the most excellent elements. The honky tonk rhythm on the banjo lures you in, the two vocal performances complement each other just so and the bluesy, jazzy trumpet is like the icing on the cake. It’s often hard to find music like this in the UK but is rewarding when you do.
After a flying start I now get to move on to better known territory. ROTPM cover four songs off of two different Bootscraper records, Country and Eastern & Bootscraper (self-titled), both of which are most triumphant examples of their unique country come folk style. It is safe to say that once again I was not disappointed by the delicate re-crafting of the originals into something completely fresh and immensely powerful despite all logic dictating it shouldn’t work! The second side kicks off with a belting ska punk re-imagining of ‘The Family’ breaking out into a sing-a-long chant of la’s and bounce off the wall guitar. Throughout their tracks they have struck a great balance on all levels, most prominently between the frantic speed they are famous for and rhythms so heavy they will hit you in the head and have you seeing stars. Similarly well balanced, once again, is the distribution of vocals, never letting you get too comfortable in one position before switching it up. If I was to pick a favourite track from this side, I would fall on either ‘The Family’ or ‘Past Lives Of Saints’ mostly because of their infectious and driving rhythms, led by that gnarly growling bass and accented to great effect by the stabbing guitar.
I’m not sure if you have noticed yet, but I really can’t sing the praises of this record enough. It pushes the limits of my comfort zone and displays exceptional musicianship on behalf of both bands, that they have been able to re-invent each other so originally and bodaciously. As a record it highlights all the best parts of doing this kind of a split endeavour, having introduced me to a new artist that I cannot wait to discover further and delivered a cracking offering from a band I already know and love. As a plus it is all in glorious DIY, so you know you are supporting the people who deserve it most. I highly recommend that you get over to their respective Facebook pages and ‘like’ them if you haven’t already and take a listen to this stunning record.
The record is out February 14th and available in all different forms from TNS Records to pre-order now: