Album Review: Charlie Horse - I Hope I'm Not A Monster

1 May 2012 | 8:13 pm | Chris Familton

I Hope I’m Not A Monster is an impressive debut album of heroic, widescreen rock’n’roll that demands repeated listens.

As the name suggests, Charlie Horse are firmly in Americana and country rock territory, though not of the gentle strum and folk-leaning variety. Instead they are riding a more ragged and parched sound that tips its hat to the likes of The Rolling Stones, REM and Drive-By Truckers.

The key to the classic qualities the band harness is their songwriting, the guitar playing and the sweetly bold vocals of Crystal Rose. She really stands out as a distinctive singer with her Nico-meets-Chrissie Hynde husky tone. On tracks such as Dead Roses and All The Pretty Horses, you feel like you've heard the songs before with their hook-laden vocal melodies, but Rose and Charlie Horse are most definitely carving out their own sound from those who've come before. Paul McDonald's guitar is both tough and tender but always with a strong backbone, lending it a heads up and proud sound rather than melancholic strumming.

Based in the Blue Mountains, the band has captured a wilderness and backwoods feel in many of their tracks with imagery akin to a Cormac McCarthy novel and Southern gothic references to dead roses, woods, monsters and horses. Charlie Horse aren't limited to just country rock styles – they also show they were raised on Australian bands The Church, while the dark funk rhythm of Am I Not Your Baby No More channels the Divinyls. I Hope I'm Not A Monster is an impressive debut album of heroic, widescreen rock'n'roll that demands repeated listens