By White Miles
White Miles have been through a lot in the last 5 months. They've toured with Blues Pills, done their first gig in the USA and supported Eagles of Death Metal on both legs of their European tour. This album was recorded before the fateful events of 13th November, but it's the perfect riposte to those who want to deny others the joy of life and the pleasure of music.
Like many other people in Leeds I was first introduced to White Miles in May 2014, when they supported Courtney Love at the O2 Academy. Singer/guitarist Medina and drummer Lofi were full of manic energy, and their music packed a combination punch of power and poise.
Nothing since then has tamed them, and evidence of this can be found on 'The Duel'. The first thing you notice is just how much it sounds like a live album. This is probably because it was recorded with Medina and Lofi in the recording room at the same time, with no click track to support them. This is old school blues rock with a contemporary twist. Imagine ZZ Top jamming with P J Harvey and you get the picture.
Recorded entirely in analogue straight onto tape it is, quite simply, a thing of rare beauty. Take the first track 'Sickly Nerves'. It opens with Medina singing the most expressive blues melody before crashing in with buzzsaw guitars, followed by lyrics that spit venom more potent than a viper.
The second track 'In the Mirror' has a foot tapping beat and the catchiest of choruses. It's radio friendly rock that deserves the air time. Up next is the equally catchy 'Crazy Horse', with its twisted lyrics and demented style of delivery this track would certainly get a nod of approval from P J Harvey.
There's a shift of pace with 'Insane To the Bone', but no let-up in the lyrical content with Medina singing: "I left my head around the corner, if you see it take it home, insane to the bone".
'A Good Pennyworth' is the most riff based track on the album, and showcases Lofi's dexterity around the drum kit. Lofi is clearly a descendant of Led Zeppelin's John Bonham.
'Coke On a Jetplane' has acoustic guitars overlaid with Medina and Lofi's vocals, giving the song a wonderful dream like feel.
'A(n) Garde' is another pounding rock track and sounds like it's being quarried from limestone rock in the band's native Tyrol region of Austria.
'Heid' is sung, or rather told, by Lofi. Lines that could have been lifted from a Kurt Vonnegut novel are paired with a sleazy guitar and a lazy drum beat that shuffles this moody masterpiece along. 'Don't You Know Him' is a 57 second tale with no music at all. Lofi's recital concludes with the line: "Deeper than hell you dragged me" and you instantly feel the poignancy.
The tenth track 'River of Gold' is another radio friendly number that is followed by the final song 'Keep Your Trippin' Wild'. Medina and Lofi duet the bluesy opening before the track moves up a gear with a shift of pace that was the hallmark of songs on their debut album. The band have fun with the volume faders, leaving you with the impression the song is winding down before kicking in again.
White Miles are an unstoppable force. They've moved from tragedy to musical gold and are destined for great things.