Bottle Up and Go – These Bones

Bottle Up and Go
These Bones

Bottle Up and Go is right up your alley if dirty, raw, slide guitar makes you shimmy, shake, and sway like a Pentecostal speaking in tongues. The drum and guitar duo formed at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and although they try to refer to their school as “unassuming”, this top ranked liberal arts college is anything but. It’s hard to imagine anything really good coming out of this union, particularly when the term blues is thrown about, but Keenan Mitchell (guitar, vocals) and Fareed Sajan (drums) do some justice to their chosen genre. Yes, Keenan and Sajan might still be pursuing scholarly activities, but music is also burning through their souls.

These Bones clocks in at just seven tracks, making it a longish EP or short full-length. Hell, who knows what the hard and fast rules are? I just know Bottle Up and Go is touching the edge of something pretty phenomenal. The duo offer up six originals and the one seemingly requisite Leadbelly cover (“Ain’t Going Down”), and nearly all the songs on the disc are scorching. Keenan and Sajan’s take on blues definitely has a modern mindset. Their post-punk approach leaves the blues fractured, bleeding, and dowsed with whiskey.

“Wayward Son” reminds me of the first two Black Keys albums. Keenan’s guitar sounds nearly damaged and his cries of “This is more than just the blues, its depression. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do” will have you curling up with your bottle in no time. As with a few other tracks, Keenan and Sajan are joined by an unexpected saxophonist – unexpected largely because I don’t often associate such instruments with any of the more modern blues acts surfacing over the last number of years.

“51 Weeks, 7 Days”, the longest track on These Bones, begins sparsely (at least for this duo) and slowly builds into a fevered climax. “My Yoke is Easy” skips the slow burn and heads straight for the smolder, but it’s songs like the title track that really get the joint hopping. “Them Bones”, with its wailing sax layered over frenetic guitar and drums, will leave you in a cold sweat.

Bottle Up and Go isn’t breaking new ground here, of course, but the duo’s energy is infectious. There’s nothing too traditional here, and this is exactly what makes outfits like this one exciting for more than one quick listen. These guys haven’t made an album that will likely stand the test of time, but as a first outing for two college students this disc is phenomenal. Bottle Up and Go is a band to watch.