17th October 2020
Today we are going local with a band I only recently came across after hearing a radio interview with them. The Amblers can be more Rock / Blues than Blues / Rock on occasions, and have a definite late sixties / early seventies influence in their sound, which after a bit of research, I found is carefully planned.
The Amblers are a Johannesburg based duo consisting of Justin Swart on an accomplished and blistering guitar, and well-know drummer, Jason Hinch, who provides an impressive percussive framework for their music. Their debut EP, ‘The Dusting Man’ was released late 2017.
Not only did the local underground music scene take notice with the Texx & The City site calling it “A Blues/Rock masterpiece that deserves your full attention”, but also in Canada where PureGrain Audio enthused that The Amblers were “Carrying a sound that leans towards the heavier side of things, fans of gritty, distorted bluesy rock a la Jack White or The Raconteurs are def. going to lap up these Johannesburg natives’ tunes.”
I am starting today’s musical threesome with the title tack from thier debut EP. Here’s “Dusting Man’.
‘The Dusting Man’ EP debut was just a taste of things to come. A follow-up single, ‘Shallow Pools’ was released in 2018, as was their first (and to date, only) studio album, ‘Ratty Ol Mo’. I have spent the last few hours listening to The Amblers catalouge, and I can happily report that the album lives up to, and exceeds, all the promise that was shown by this local duo in the earlier releases.
Justin Swart’s songwriting skills are evident with a collection of compositions that are lyrical and tell a clear story. The band is fixed in their principle of being true to themselves, and produces songs their listeners can relate to. They want their audience to be able to feel the emotions experienced from beginning to end of each song. I think that they manage the brief perfectly.
The Everything Is Noise website had the following to say about the album: “Sometimes edgy, sometimes sombre, and always deep, Ratty Old Mo’ is a formidable musical roller-coaster from a band that warrants a great deal of praise and attention.”
Vocalist and guitarist Justin Swart commented on the making of the album “Recording this album was so much fun! We didn’t use any samples at all in the production. What you hear is what we played. The album feels real to us, almost as if you are in the room with us. We hope people enjoy it as much as what we loved putting it together”. It shows Justin, It shows!
Here’s the title track of ‘Ratty Ol’ Mo’. Get those boogie shoes on!
Since the release of their superb debut album The Amblers has released two singles, 2019’s ‘Birds and the Bees’, and today’s closing track, ‘Sixteen 100-Year-Olds’ which was released in July this year. It’s a blues-infused hard rock song that will get your foot stomping from the opening riff.
In an interview that Justin Swart had with SA Guitarist, he discussed the substance abuse problem that dogged him through his youth in the music scene, holding back his careers progress. Fortunately, those days are over and Swart is now known as a strict self-disciplinarian, and The Amblers is testament to a fixed goal that is long overdue.
I mentioned the sixties/seventies Rock feel to their sound and it’s not surprising as he alternates between a Gibson Les Paul and a classic Gretch guitar paired with old combo amps set-ups enhanced with a specially designed pedal set-up to further emulate those early big rock sounds. When not touring, writing or recording, he also undertakes post-production work for various artists in the music industry, but always makes time for his daily guitar practice.
Drummer, Jason Hinch, is a well-known name in the music industry and has played behind virtually every big name, across every genre, in the country. With strong musical influences from parents who were both professional musicians, he went on to study music and composition and has played everything from classics to metal rock, and is imminently qualified to do so.
I’m looking forward to the next full-length studio album from this very talented local duo, but until then, here the latest single ‘Sixteen 100-Year Olds’. 😎
The Loving the Music mini-features are written and compiled by Andrew Knapp in support of his Loving the Music Facebook page and group. Join the community for regular themed three-part posts that do do more than just share a song.
The Author owns no copyright on the images or videos in this article. All images and links sourced from YouTube and Google and within the public domain.
Words © Andrew Knapp 2020