London Borderline

[a]16 Horsepower[/a] are here to restore your faith in country music.

London Borderline

16 Horsepower are one of America's great undiscovered bands. After four years struggling with a major label unable to understand their religious, psychopathic country rock, they've come out of the experience even stronger and with their best album to date - 'Secret South'. As the turgid alt-country wagon rolls along unsteadily, shedding wheels with every new Calexico and Smog release, 16 Horsepower are here to restore your faith in country music.

Centre of attention is frontman David Eugene Edwards. The son of a preacher, who honed his haunting tenor in the whitewashed chapels of the Appalachian Mountains, Edwards is an extraordinary frontman. A constant mess of twitches, stares and jerks, he hypnotises the crowd with edgy songs of darkness, redemption and rattlesnakes. The banjo-driven foot stomper 'Clogger' sits next to the Civil War ballad 'Straw Foot' while Edwards trades banjos for slide guitars for accordians.

The apocalyptic 'Cinder Alley' starts menacingly with a taut violin riff (played by Edwards' 18-year-old daughter), before exploding into a burst of slide guitars, crashing cymbals and lone-wolf howling. Like if the blind banjo-playing freak from Deliverance had grown up to front The Verve. As with the majority of 16 Horsepower's set tonight, it's devastatingly heavy, haunting music that's filled with horrendous paranoia and sexual tension. If only all church services were like this.

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