Issue #223, Vol. 44, #1

February 2013

by Mark Uricheck

New York City-based Willie McBlind is a band that's found it's way to separate itself from the legions of blues copycats spinning in circles, holding down the 12-bar fort. The band employs the use of 64-tone, 12-Tone Ultra Plus and fretless guitars, played in just-intonation tuning. Akin to Zappa-esque creative proportions, the resulting sound is more of a legato drawl added to the music, as hypnotic as it is innovative.

Guitarist Jon Catler is the mastermind behind not only the just-intonation instrumentation, but also the band itself, as he's tagged with the writing credits on the album's ten tracks. Catler contributes vocals as well, sharing lead duties with co-vocalist Meredith Borden. The pair's intertwining passages evoke a mad-cabaret feel, as they lead the listener through a would-be concept album focusing on both the literal and imaginative imagery that trains represent - whisking the listener away to someplace better.

Slow Moving Train has a Cream-meets-Motown sensibility. Catler's guitar buzzing over the slapped percussion of Lorne Watson, while Mat Fieldes pulses in just intonation (himself using a 12-Tone Ultra Plus bass). Down The Road is a chicken-picked soft shuffle, the ascending liberation in Catler and Borden's vocals kicking dust upon the already briskly moving music bed. For a transcendental buzz, check out the last track. The Train That Never Came - an exercise in recording studio expression and limitless guitar tone.

While not completely turning the genre on its ear, Willie McBlind gives the listener a forceful jab with this blinders-on experiment in inspired blues indulgence.

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