Review Archive

'Rags and Bones' Jo Carley and The Old Dry Skulls – unconventional attitude and eccentric style

(December 27, 2014)

Don’t you just love it when something totally unexpected yet ultimately attractive arrives with the post? The latest surprise is the EP from Jo Carley and The Old Dry Skulls – who describe themselves as a Dry Old Skullsnomadic trio playing ‘Old Time Gypsy Ska Punk'  - now if that doesn’t spark your interest not much will. There are but four tracks on the EP and among its bewildering mix of goings on and influences is a synthesis of folk, jazz, country, bluegrass, reggae and blues overlaid with a touch of Celtic edge and a murky Southern tinge. Not your everyday mix that’s for sure. Whatever the source of the blend, this EP presents itself with considerable attitude and a certain eccentric style. 

The band’s biography is as unconventional as their music. Jo and Tim Carley live what might be called an alternative lifestyle, in January 2013 they sold everything they didn't need, stuck the rest in storage, left their house and hit the road. Since then they’ve lived in a converted van and travelled the endless road playing bars, clubs, weddings, house parties, street parties, festivals and busking everywhere they touch down. There’s a strangely discomforting quality to the vocals, with even a hint of veiled menace. As for the music, it feels as though it’s only just restrained, always hovering towards the brink of control. There’s the dark lyrics and pulsating presence of ‘Rags and Bones’ the equally ominous ‘Raise a Spell’ with its vengeful story, then ‘Bad Dog’ arrives with its bite, before the rushing washboard and violin-driven angst of ‘Bother’makes its point and runs out the EP.

Throughout, the instruments alternately duel with each other or combine with the vocals to deliver an attention grabbing offensive. As I’ve said before, one measure of an EP is that it leaves you wanting more … this one does. I shall have to go and hear these guys soon.

Playing on this EP, released 4th December 2014, are Jo Carley (vocals, mandolin, fiddle, washboard) Tim Carley (guitar, stomp, percussion, banjo) Nathan Weanie (double bass) find them here: www.jocarleyandtheolddryskulls

Reviewer: Tim Carroll 

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