C.W. Stoneking - Gon' Boogaloo
A Review by Robert Dean
This record is amazing.
You know what’s awesome about the Internet? When you randomly stumble upon music, and it gives you pause, and you’re like, FUCK. HOW DID I MISS THIS?
This was me today, discovering C.W. Stoneking – randomly, I saw the cover of his 2014 record, Gon’ Boogaloo and was instantly intrigued given my natural adoration of all things Depression-era southern blues and or country.
What I was just privy to learning is the aforementioned Gon’ Boogaloo is just gathering steam on this side of the Pacific. C.W. Stoneking is an Australian and while his music is loved down under, he’s yet to find his audience here in America.
So, the record is just starting to get noticed in the States, almost two years from its release. I ain’t complaining... because what I stumbled on by way of an Instagram photo (totes follow me: @RobertDeanNola) I fell in love with Stoneking’s music instantly.
Gon’ Boogaloo is a hodgepodge of classic Americana that’s got the intensity of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins but mixed with notes of Son House, Elmore James, and Leadbelly. It’s jangly, poetic; it’s got some Tom Waits moments, and then, it can turn classic country on a dime.
The production is low and straight-ahead. It feels genuine in its adherence to being honest about what it is: it’s straight ahead creepy blues that sounds like it should be played at a Halloween party. Sure, the songs are rough and tumble, but they feel… haunted. If you’re a fan of JD McPherson, The Bellfuries, or Leon Bridges, C.W. Stoneking is in your wheelhouse.
There are some hand clappers, foot stompers and moments where you need to holler out to God, but all of the emotions we’ve so sorely needed are here and it feels good to hear someone ignore what’s cool and go for the heart, to play what’s honest.
The guitars are filthy, and the vocal harmonies sound pre-war. The music sounds used, worn – and that gives it soul – gives it light.
We’re just up to our ears in shit that is just so awful, that tries too hard to have a soul. So much bad fakery is abound with people who want to achieve C.W. Stoneking’s sound, but fall very, very flat. His persona and image reminds me of Pokey LaFarge, and I hope the two become pals and drink many weird beers together.
Word on the street is C.W. Stoneking is embarking on his first US tour – if it’s not, who cares, either way. This is one artist worth your ticket money, worth your body in the room, worth the bucks on a shirt. Having discovered him just today, I managed to order Gon’ Boogaloo on vinyl, purchase tickets for the show in Austin in a few weeks, and write a review to spread the word. That’s how much I believe in this music, this record, this artist.
Maybe it’s the cover art imagery that offers a sepia tonality to the whole record that you can’t escape, but whatever demons C.W. Stoneking summoned for Gon’ Boogaloo they came out with their best rock and roll dancing shoes on, cause brothers and sisters, this record is here to party.
Gon’ Boogaloo is available on Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes, etc.