The mini album kicks of with the song that attracted me in the first place. Titled after a stimulant I never use: 'Coffee'. In the song McCallion proves himself to be an "opgewonden standje", as we call it over here. His enthusiasm is all over the place. Which can be extremely irritating. In this case 'Coffee' is just fine. I'm reminded instantly of that great EP by Gordon Harrow reviewed last year on these pages: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/06/indian-giver-ep-gordon-harrow.html. Like Harrow McCallion goes full out and is not afraid to show a lot of influences within a minute or 15, without losing what he wants to say himself from sight for a single second. And those moments are abundant on Keep Smiling.
In fact it is easy to do so for the whole length of the EP. Patrick McCallion rocks out and then rocks on some more by the time he reaches his fourth song 'Bedlam (It's A Hell Of A Town)'. The electric guitars and percussion are only laid aside for the final song 'The Death Of Coney Island'. About to crumble into the sea, which makes a change from the house of the old director sinking into the earth in Joseph Heller's book, was it, 'Closing Time'? Not a song I would have expected hearing after hearing the first four songs, but there's nothing's wrong with this acoustic outing except for the surprise of it being there.
Going back to 'Coffee'. It starts with an acoustic guitar as well. Played faster and louder and McCallion singing much intenser and wilder, an edge to his voice. In the second verse a muted electric guitar and a rolling drums enter. After the second verse: "let's go" and the EP is really off. Slowly more brakes come off and the guitars really can go and let it rip. In a style that many U.S. country rocking artists use, without that heavy rocking guitar sound that is.
In 'Murky Waters' I find the elements of Booker T. with the Arctic Moments, even in pronouncing the word "something", including a veneer like Dave Davies 80s lead guitar sound and playing style. Another great song by the way. It holds more elements of recognition than any one song ought to contain, normally, so the song is chock full of surprises of the pleasant kind. Patrick McCallion has no shame to let it all hang out, grand style.
I'm not surprised that in 'Bedlam' a little Van Halen, ACDC and Metallica are let into the mix and all without losing the pop element once again. This song goes full out and scores, like a football team going all out against a better squad and comes out victorious through sheer dedication.
Patrick McCallion is from the U.K. and this doesn't surprise me at all. As eclectic as his music is, I'd say he fits in nicely in that tradition that was started in 1962 by The Beatles carried on by Oasis and who knows it may be just about McCallion time. The kind of music that sort of holds it all. Too early to write real conclusions here though and extremely big shoes to fill. The intention seems to be in place.
Patrick McCallion is not afraid to show the world what he likes musically and comes up with his own mix of all his favourite music. Keep Smiling may be severely lacking in originality, but who cares when the fun is a big as it is here. Seldom an album's title underscored the content in a better and all encompassing way. Keep smiling indeed.
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