New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Jack Sandham and Wednesday Lyle may hail from London, but their musical homeland is rooted in pure Americana — it's the sound of Memphis' Beale Street and Sun Studios, Mississippi Delta roadhouses and New Orleans' Bourbon Street. As Cowbell, Sandham and Lyle distill essential elements of raw R&B, garage rock, soul, blues and rockabilly into a spirited sonic cocktail with a '60s twist that will get your head spinning and your hips shaking.
Their new album Haunted Heart
(due June 2, 2017, on Damaged Goods Records) finds Sandham (guitar/vocals) and Lyle (drums/vocals) refining and expanding their vivid garage-soul sound. The title track opens this self-produced disc with a bracing dose of rockabilly swagger powered by Sandham's gritty guitar licks and Lyle's freight train rhythms.
On this album, however, the duo bolstered its typically stripped-down guitar-and-drum approach by including other instrumentation to the mix. Doors-like keys course through the dark swing of "None of Your Business," while vintage organs, along with some glitchy synths, color tracks like "Neon Blue" and "Doom Train." The duo dives into Delta gospel blues on "Nothing But Trouble" while the gospel touches in "No Wrong" blend smoothly with doses of Percy Sledge-style soul.
Cowbell also taps into a '60s-influenced West Coast vibe on Haunted Heart. "Something's Gotta Give
" projects a gently plucked Laurel Canyon mood — all teardrop-stained and tie-dyed — onto a soul-stirring torch song. Lyle's turn at lead vocals on "Downlow" conjures up femme-fatale fury that sounds like it has been ripped straight from the beating heart of the Fillmore during the Summer of Love. She also effortlessly slips into an alluring Peggy Lee
mode for the smoky piano jazz number "New Kind of Love."
The pair's musical alchemy makes Haunted Heart
Cowbell's most full-bodied work. There is more rawness, more refinement, more fuzz, more fizz, more greasy foot-beating, party-greeting, soul-treating music.
Cowbell began in 2009. At the time, Sandham was performing solo following a stint in U.K. blues-rockers Great Bear. He started to jam with Lyle, an old friend who had recently started playing drums (she has said that she taught herself the drums by playing along to songs — lots of Creedence — on her iPod). The two connected right off. Having known each other a long time, they could communicate well with each other, and they discovered that they shared many musical references.
In 2010, they released their debut single, "Oh Girl," which wound up getting airplay on BBC 6 and XFM in the U.K. Later that year, the Too Pure Singles Club put out their second single, "Never Satisfied," and Cowbell went on tour with the Britpop group Cast. After self-releasing a third single, Cowbell signed with Damaged Goods Records. The noted English punk and roots rock label proved a good match for Cowbell, with the band complementing Damage
Goods' fellow Anglo-cana garage rockers like Holly Golightly, Billy Childish, Thee Milkshakes and Thee Headcoats.
Cowbell's 2012 debut CD, Beat Stampede, is highlighted by two songs that reflect the duo's light and dark sides. "Tallulah," the album's lead-off track, works up a psychobilly frenzy courtesy of Sandham's sinister slide guitar riffs, while the boppier "Hanging by a Thread" is a delightful slice of mod-ish soul pop. All Music's Mark Deming awarded Beat Stampede 3½ out of 4 stars, proclaiming that Cowbell "shows that they have a recipe that truly satisfies."
The duo's sophomore outing, 2014's Skeleton Soul, contains the infectious single "She's All Over You," which uses Sandham's groovy psychedelic organ work to worm its way into your ear. Skeleton Soul earned Cowbell more praise: English critics called it an "oh-so-cool album" (R2 Magazine) with tracks that "ooze vigour and vitality, they're feel-good songs." (Artrocker).
The feel-good vitality Cowbell exhibits on their recordings also shines through in dynamic concert performances. BBC 6 Music's Chris Hawkins hailed them as "one of the best live bands I've seen in a long time," while Uncut magazine declared that they "excel at writing superior party tunes."
With the arrival of the captivating Haunted Heart, Cowbell will be attracting more converts to their garage soul gospel. Sandham and Lyle plan on touring not only in their home country and Europe
but also crossing the Atlantic to America. The duo can be seen as a true trans-Atlantic band — as in Atlantic Records — in the way that Dusty Springfield's and Ray Charles' Atlantic recordings stands as touchstones for Cowbell's music.