That first guitar lick will tell you everything you need to know about The Amblers, a blues rock duo hailing from Johannesburg.
It’s a lazy, crunchy riff, freshly graduated from the school of Angus Young. But there’s something more to it too, like if AC/DC grew up in the American South.
The blues rock influences are evident too – you have your Rolling Stones, White Stripes, and Royal Blood. Dirty blues rock, y’know? These all tie in to give that dangerous edge. Sure, the riffs and beats follow a formula of sorts, but there are unpredictable elements that only emerge for a bar here or there. If you listen closely you can also hear some nice clean playing underneath the layers of distortion. These parts are heard to pick out, but would certainly be welcome more prominently in the mix.
Fuzzy and raw, the opening track reeks of cool. Resplendent with laid back riffs, rocking solos, sloshy drum cymbals – these guys know what’s up.
The title track is the one to get your toe tapping. Similar to the first song, with a faster riff, and more of a four of the floor stomping feel than the stop start vibe of the first track.
The song “Tired”, on the other hand, is slower and balladesque. The distinctive guitar remains, but organ is dominant during this track. Organ with so much vibrato I picture the underwater scene from Pinnochio. You know when cartoons speak underwater and their voice ripples and undulates as they talk? Another neat addition is crisp piano notes playing on the beat, clinking to accent where you’d sometime expect the drummer to play the bell of the ride cymbal, or a cowbell.
Drummer Jason Hinch shows off most of his chops during the last track, “Keep Me Screamin’”. The verses follow the vocal line – guitar line alternating delivery of Sometimes. The cleaner guitar tone feels welcome after three tracks of intense fuzz, but still retains the same energy.
For a duo, these guys sure pack a punch. Intimate listening reveals layer upon layer of subtle details that drown under the intense distortion. In fact, I can’t figure out how they would possibly pull these songs off live. Fuzzy, filthy and fleshed out, The Amblers will have you rocking out more than you’d expect possible from just two guys. They’re currently in the studio working on a new album, and that is something that excites me very much.
The Amblers links: