THE AMBLERS are a folksy/blues rock duo emerging from South Africa, who describe a broad range of both local and international musical influences, including The Rolling Stones and Jack White. Acclaimed drummer Jason Hinch (of successful South African rock band, The Black Cat Bones) provides an accomplished and powerful foundation for Justin Swart (on vocals and guitar) to deliver his narrative to the listener. Their approach to music is raw but not unpolished, with an authentic energy, big drums and dirty, vintage guitar tones. The duo have recently released their first 4-track EP entitled ‘The Dustling Man’, and are currently in the studio working on an album.
The first track 'Sometimes' opens with a strong drum beat and ebullient guitar which provides the main structure to the track throughout. This is a laid-back bluesy track with a distorted guitar which befits the tempo and mood. There is a dirty riff which leads into the chorus and the whole sound is impressively raw and enigmatic. Swart's mesmerising vocal draws the listener into his personal battle. This track is original, gritty and cerebral, and has an almost sleaze rock feel which I love. This band has soul. A nice start, this looks promising.
The title track 'The Dustling Man' begins with a slightly quicker beat and still with that gritty mix of vocal and guitar supported by a skilful drum performance. This is definitely guitar-led music though, which is right up my alley; and this guy can play! The main riff is catchy and again distorted, and the chorus is memorable. Swart's vocal is more melodic here, and I can feel a bit more fun with this track. This is a strong title track and will appeal across genres. There's a great beat and an earthy groove; the drums are stylish and tight; the guitars are genius, vintage but not dated and I can hear influences from the 60s through to the present day. The overall feeling of the track is swarthy and authentically bluesy. This is a highly enjoyable song which deserves to be heard.
The next track 'Tired' introduces keys to the mix. There remains the gnarled guitar and the solid drum beat, but the keys produce an interesting new dimension, an almost ethereal quality. Swart's vocals are at their best here, in my opinion, his performance is emotional, and as a listener I could empathise with his struggle. This is beautiful, and again this deserves to be heard. I'm suitably impressed; in fact I think I'm in love with this track. These guys are melody-rich and talented artists. This is possibly my favourite on the EP, though it's a close call #newfan.
The final track is 'Keep Me Screamin', it has a stronger drum beat and chunkier riffs. I don’t feel the vocals are as strong in this though. I can't tell, from this track, alone how versatile this band is going to be. I do like the funky guitar, and the chorus is catchy, but it's a little too White Stripes for me. This is a good track, don’t get me wrong, but it isn't my favourite, and I urge you to listen to the whole EP.
In all, this is an impressive debut EP, somewhat surprisingly as I'm not too familiar with the South African music scene. The EP is fresh, exciting and impassioned; I feel like they put their heart and soul into it. If you like moody, bluesy rock then this band are for you. If you like indie music, this band could also be for you. If you like GOOD music, this band is most definitely for you. I can't wait to hear more from these guys. In the meantime, this EP will become a staple in my musical diet. Thank you.
Justin Swart (vocals, guitar)
Jason Hinch (drums)
Genre: Bluesy rock
Home Town: Johannesburg
Record Label: Olive Records
Keep Me Screamin'
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/wearetheamblers/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/The_Amblers