Guitarmy of One – Overtones of Hercule and Holmes
The sound of the guitar is at the very foundation of popular music in all of its varieties. Perhaps, as a consequence of having heard it so often, we have forgotten how to honour some of the musicians blessed with the rare ability to really make the instrument speak.
This is in part that, as with all trends, those shaping opinions have tended to put focus on those approaching guitar playing in the most outrageous of manners. First, there was a guy burning his guitar. Then, there was one tapping with both his hands frantically on the fretboard, and recently we’ve been inundated by the kind of internet guitar heroics that appear like feats of superhuman strength.
Scott Helland, a veteran of the punk scene, takes his inspiration from the earliest of guitar heroes, those for whom tone was everything. The outlandish, playful, mysterious Overtones of Hercule and Holmes plays out like the soundtrack to an old detective television show. In the end, it’s the sound that comes directly from Helland’s hands, every bend and legato, that makes this a very pleasant listen and a reminder of our own roots as fans of rock music.
John John Brown – Yossi the Balloon Man
To be honest, I’m not the kind of person to go on about the good old days. I’ve never lived them. Pop music has always been crap as far as I’m concerned. Still, with my cynicism intact, I can only gaze in fascination at decades ago when a man with a story and an acoustic guitar could draw in the attention of hordes of people.
In fact, if you were unable to write really great stories and put them to music, it was very unrealistic that you would make many friends in the musicians’ community. It was a world where Bob Dylan was king, and people like John Prine, or Townes van Zandt resembled prophets from a distant land.
Yes, things have changed for the… mundane. There are, however, some true believers left. John John Brown’s Yossi the Balloon Man is a movie script, or a short novella, in music form. It’s heartbreaking, understated, and contains enough clever observations about character traits to suggest that Mr Brown could make for a real author.