Viper Central "Thump & Howl"
Vancouver bluegrass ensemble Viper Central have been making a considerable name for themselves throughout North America and Europe over the past four years. ‘Thump & Howl’ is their third album.
Across fourteen songs, a mixture of traditionals and originals, they prove themselves highly adept in their chosen field. A rather airless production gives the album a distinctly rootsy quality, as if they’re recording a live session in one of those 30s clapboard radio stations.
The Western Swing-style twin fiddles of Kathleen Nesbit and Mark Vaughan, while not strictly bluegrass, add infinitely to this vibe. Liberal doses of pedal-steel, courtesy of Tim Tweedale, reinforce the non-purist approach. The bluegrass scene is not, of course, particularly overcrowded with great singers – great musicianship is arguably more important. The occasionally shaky lead vocals of Nesbit and co, however, give proceedings a certain lo-fi charm. Lively, in a gently bluegrass-rockin’ manner, ‘Thump & Howl’ passes a pleasing forty minutes or so.