I’ve been pretty impressed with how just two guys from Indiana could create such a big, raucous noise while upholding the principles of Southern blues. Well imagine that kind of music being generated by one guy, from France. Left Lane Cruiser, meet Chicken Diamond.
Actually, they have met. Diamond has toured the European blues circuit with kindred souls Left Lane Cruiser and their Alive Naturalsound label mates The Black Diamond Heavies, and so it probably goes without saying that if you dig the American acts, you’re gonna really enjoy what this frantic Frenchman is puttin’ down.
The similarities extend to that graveled snarl Diamond uses to deliver his raunchy lyrics in the same gruff style as the Heavies’ John Wesley Myers aka James Leg, so good luck trying to find that accent.
For his second album, simply titled Chicken Diamond II, Diamond is noisy and boisterous, of course, but he can string together some chords that fit together and make it groove hard (“Disappear,” see YouTube above), rock hard (“Gold Rush”), and simmer in a boiling cauldron of slow blues (“31 Highway”). And those are just the first three songs. No matter how the song is rendered, there’s a riff heavier than a ’65 Fleetwood with a trunk full of bricks at the core of it, and a backbeat that smacks harder Ndamukong Suh. And Diamond is bringing it both at the same time, with a little assist from a laptop.
While his thick, amp-cracklin’ sound is very consistent, Diamond does have a surprise or two up his sleeve, like a downright dirty version of BB King’s “The Thrill Is Gone.” His blood curdling scream that ushers in the rowdy “Rock ‘n’ Roll People” is like the one Paul McCartney used to kick start “Revolution,” only a lot more frightening (edit: I have it on good word that the scream actually came from Chicken’s seven year old son, and thus his career in rock is off to a roaring start). The shimmering guitar sounds that shape the chugging rocker “Leaving In The Morning” puts the song right at the intersection of blues and Southern rock.
Chicken Diamond has been compared to everyone from 70s version ZZ Top and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to Tom Waits and the Cramps. I could also toss in The Reverend Horton Heat and Junior Kimbrough filtered through the North Mississippi All Stars. Regardless of who he reminds you of, it’s not going to be anyone from where he’s from. Chicken Diamond may live in France but his soul roams all over the rougher and richer music territory of the American South.
Chicken Diamond II went on sale last month, from Beast Records.