Ferocious Dog – Ferocious Dog
In recent years I have managed to see Ferocious Dog at a number of festivals around the UK. Their live performances are rapidly becoming legend amongst those who have been lucky enough to see them. The Nottinghamshire based six-piece Alt-Folk band produce a high energy sound performing their own songs and adding a very different slant to some more traditional songs. Their constant gigging and festival appearances has allowed them to build a strong, loyal and growing following, affectionately nicknamed the ‘Hellhounds’. Being close to the stage at a Ferocious Dog Gig when the Hellhounds are in town is an experience you are unlikely to forget for a while. If you get the opportunity to see the band I urge you to do so. If you come away not having enjoyed the gig you are probably dead, at least from the neck up.
Bands like Ferocious Dog are a mainstay of the small to mid sized festival scene in the UK. They are the unsung heroes of the UK scene building a loyal fan-base but never quite getting the break their undoubted talent deserves in the era of the X factor and manufactured pop music. I often think that bands such as this would scorn the opportunity to sign for one of the major labels in any event. The thought of handing control of their musical destiny to men in grey suits would horrify bands who like to live on the margins, who have a slightly anarchic outlook and who reject the corporate greed so admired by many of the Thatcher generation.
Against this backdrop the as yet unsigned band released their eponymous debut album in late 2013. I confess I was a little unsure what to expect from the album. Lets be honest, any half decent pub band can whip up a crowd by playing well selected songs fast and loud. Loving a live performance when surrounded by like minded people and fuelled by a few beers is one thing but, sadly, it is often the case that the live experience does not translate to the recorded medium and you can be left feeling disappointed. Thankfully this is far from the case with Ferocious Dog. Make no mistake, this album is the real deal!
From Ellis Waring’s’ gentle solo banjo intro to the opening track “The Glass” to the frenetic cacophony of sound that is the closing track “Paddy on The Railway” this album instantly grabs you and keeps you returning for more. On a recent drive to Gatwick airport and back I played the entire album five times back to back. A word of warning if listening whilst driving! Keep an eye on your speed.
The album is a very strong collection of songs mostly co-written by father and son team guitarist & vocalist Ken Bonsall and fiddler Dan Booth. It is a collection of stories. Stories of love & loss, joy & pain, rebellion & powerlessness, inequality & class. It is personal, dedicated as it is to Ken’s son, Lee Bonsall, who died in tragic circumstances in March 2012, a victim of the war in Afghanistan and the MOD’s continued failure to properly support members of our armed services who are suffering from post combat stress.
The musicianship is top class and draws on a wide range of styles from the Reggae inspired baselines on ‘Freeborn John’ to the Gypsy fiddle on ‘Pocket of Madness’. In my opinion every track on the album stands up to close scrutiny and my personal favourites seem to change every time I listen, and this is an album I listen to virtually every day. The rhythm section, father and son team Dave & Brad Drury, are the glue that holds everything together. The drive is provided by a very capable engine room with Dan Booth on fiddle and Kyle Peters on guitar. The intricacy and texture is added by Ellis Waring on mandolin, banjo & guitar. Ken Bonsall adds the vocal and acoustic guitar to the mix. Whilst Ken’s slightly rasping vocals bring an obvious focus every member of the band gets an opportunity to showcase their talent at some point on the album. Whilst I find it hard to pick a favourite track ‘Criminal Justice’ and ‘Hellhounds’ are firm favourites at live shows and both translate very well to disc. The band are often compared to the Levellers and there is an undoubted Levellers influence in many of the songs. It is probably fair to say that Ferocious dog operate in a similar musical space to bands like the Levellers , New Model Army. Indeed they have been described as “Levellers meets Billy Bragg meets The Pogues, I can see why but that they have their own sound and are their own men. The album was very capably produced by Gavin Monaghan & Rob Huskinson.
I highly recommend this album, it can be bought direct from the bands website at ferociousdog.co.uk it is a steal at only £10. Whilst you are there buy a copy of the recorded live acoustic disc which can be had for a mere £5. It gives an alternate take on most of the songs from the album and does that very nicely. I must confess though that in my opinion it is worth the £5 just to hear ‘Slow Motion Suicide’ an absolutely brilliant song. Ferocious dog are a hard working & talented group of guys and thoroughly nice guys into the bargain. Bands like this are the lifeblood of the UK music scene and as such deserve our support. If you don’t support them you condemn us all to the hell of the manufactured musical mediocrity trotted out by the corporate music machine lead by Simon Cowell and his ilk. If that happens then the Devil will send his Hellhounds for YOU!
Ferocious Dog have started work on a new album due for release before Christmas 2014. This project is to be fan funded and the band are asking that fans pre-order the album (at reduced cost) from their website. I am sure many of you have seen the advertising for O2 in which they ask us to ‘Be More Dog’. I ask you to do the same, but in this case I ask that you ‘be more Ferocious Dog’. You won’t regret it.
As a final comment if you care about the mental health of our combat veterans you may care to make a donation in Lee Bonsall’s memory to The Lee Bonsall memorial fund. You can make a donation by Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org . Lee’s wife Serena has a just giving page Serena Bonsall’s or you could make a donation to the Veteran’s mental health charity, Combat Stress
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