Reviewed by Meghan Player
Over the last couple of years, Sydney [and indeed Melbourne] have been producing some of the finest blues bands our country has to offer – ranging from the dirty grit and growl of the Brothers Grim & the Blue Murders to the early Mississippi blues of Frank Sultana & the Sinister Kids. A little over a year ago, Sydney locals Papa Pilko & the Binrats caught my attention with their rollicking tunes and entertaining live sets – a tradition set to continue with the release of new EP, ‘Howlin‘.
As the banjo/harmonica combo kicks off opening track ‘Back Home‘, you can’t help but smile as you’re instantly caught up in the infectious rhythm. Already a track that is a staple in the bands live set, the song seems to take on new life on the EP – promising another wave of [embarrassing] dancing around the house.
‘Some Kind Of Evil‘ sees the band shift tempos, opting to take the lounge/blues/ballad path. Never a band to shy away from a story, the track is a perfect example of the bands ability to not only entertain, but present you with a killer narrative as well. ‘East Harlem‘ continues the intrigue, once again moving into a new blues rhythm with a sound that wouldn’t be out-of-place during a big band night in the 1930s.
‘Boardwalk Blues‘ and closer ‘Howlin’‘ are the perfect finish to the EP, relying on the bands core image, style and persona to win you over once and for all. The cowboy-style blues and narrative drum up images of dusty back roads, dirty saloons and whiskey by the bottle-full – a definite forté for the 7-piece.
Overall, ‘Howlin’‘ is another perfect notch in Papa Pilko & the Binrats belt. This is a band that have proven time and again that the classic blues genre still has a place and relevance in the modern realm. I’ve never had any hesitation in saying this band is destined for big things – and certainly this EP is just another step in the right direction.