If the word “fuzzy” can sometimes be nice – think a cat’s warm belly or that feeling you get in your head after a few daiquiris – the same can’t really be said of the word “scuzzy”. But fuzzy and scuzzy are exactly the words I’d use to describe John J Presley’s White Ink EP, out next week from Vital Music.
I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure that Presley isn’t related to his more famous namesake, but they share a solid accomplishment: they stole the blues, probably through some sort of deal at a crossroads, made by burying a box full of keepsakes and teeth and hair and that.
JJP’s blues are dark and, yes, fuzzy and scuzzy, and immediately take you away to a dusty, scuffed-up dirt-patch in front of a festival stage, a whirlwind whipped up by a shuffle of humanity, baking under an unforgiving sun as the guitar and the bass and the drums and the vocals drone into a hot mess.
Recorded live at ToeRag Studios, White Ink is all loss, impermanence, kvetching, and lethargy; all sojourning, musing, loneliness, and bliss. Presley’s voice is as heavy and hairy as the music it slides over, but never unpleasant, and the effect of the whole is like drinking cough syrup on a summer day.
I used to like this kind of music when it was the bluesier end of grunge, when it was the less-produced end of stoner rock, and when it was the kind of crazy sound that only people in small Cascadian towns or lively Scandinavian suburbs made. I still like it now. I think you will, too.
White Ink is available digitally from July 24th, via Vital Music, and on limited edition vinyl from August 31st.