Curse of Lono
Plus John Murry
Friday 18th October 2019
The Jericho Tavern, 56 Walton Street, Oxford, OX2 6AE
Doors 7.30 p.m.
Tickets £12 in advance £15 on the night
In 2018 Curse Of Lono took their blend of deeply cinematic, harmony-laden Americana and driving, gothic alt-rock around Europe with two UK headline tours and European supports for Steve Earle, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes and David Ramirez. Joining frontman Felix Bechtolsheimer in Curse Of Lono, who formed in London in 2015, are Joe Hazell (lead guitar and vocals), Dani Ruiz Hernandez (keys and vocals), Charis Anderson (bass and vocals) and Neil Findlay (drums).
The band released their second album ‘As I Fell’ in August 2018 to great critical acclaim, earning the band their first top 10 album in the UK Americana Charts. The acclaimed London five-piece were awarded the title of Bob Harris’s Emerging Act of the Year at the 2019 UK Americana Awards which took place at Hackney Empire in January.
Produced by Oli Bayston (Boxed In) at Rancho V, a remote desert studio in Joshua Tree, California and Flesh & Bone Studios in Hackney, ‘As I Fell’ owes as much to old faithfuls like The Doors and The Velvet Underground as it does to more contemporary artists such as The War On Drugs and Wilco. The album combines Felix‘s dark lyrics with a rich instrumental sound, and drew on a mix of influences from both sides of the Atlantic. The album was accompanied by a short documentary 'Somewhere In Their Heads' by Gregg Houston (Van Morrison, Noel Gallagher, Two Door Cinema Club, Michael Kiwanuka), which has won Best Short Documentary at the LA Edge Film Awards, the Hollywood Sun Awards, the Changing Face International Film Festival in Sydney and the Oniros Film Festival in Rome.
John Murry’s work is dark and stark. Following on from 2012’s album acclaimed work ‘The Graceless Age’, this new work sees Murry open up a little more with tales of addiction and grief, of pain and despair, but also of redemption and new beginnings. There’s a brooding, Nick Cave style swagger, the despair of Mark Linkous, and it feels, as Murry looks, like it could all break down at any minute. It’s that fragility that makes it so appealing. It’s taut and balancing on the edge of something devastating.
Following the death of American Music Club’s Tim Mooney, who’d helped him put the first album together, Murry relapsed into the chaos of his former self, losing his home, his wife and temporarily, his freedom in the process. A more positive and hopeful future came to him following a chance meeting with Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, who persuaded Murry to go back in the studio, this time in Toronto. A scratch band was formed, and over just five days they completed the record. What they came up with was a curious mix informed by folk and country, blues and Americana, and a musical reaction to Murry’s loose and intense way of writing.
A few years ago, the road led him to Kilkenny, Ireland, where he surrounded himself with music, the one thing that’s never let him down. Exile suits him. The community around him there understand him. They’ve given him the space and the right amount of time to get fixed to bare those bones, and begin exorcising those demons.
In the live setting, that intensity is raw and celebrated. Easy listening it ain’t. These aren’t pretty pictures he’s painting. You’ll find painful honesty, and a performer in confessional mood. His captivating, broken vocal finding it’s natural place in the depths of the subject matter he’s expressing. While John Murry’s work is richly deserving of a bigger stage, you can’t help wonder where that would lead his personal life.