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Jane Lee Hooker

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New York’s hottest punk-blues collective are back in business. If you didn’t catch them first time round, then it’s high time you got to know Jane Lee Hooker better. Individually, the five members have pedigree to burn, turning heads and tearing up stages in seminal bands from Nashville Pussy to Bad Wizard. But when Dana ‘Danger’ Athens (vocals), Hail Mary Z (bass), Melissa ‘Cool Whip’ Houston (drums), Tracy ‘High Top’ (guitar) and Tina ‘T Bone’ Gorin (guitar) hooked up in 2012, they swore a blood pact to take Jane Lee Hooker all the way. “We’re a gang,” say the lineup. “We’re a family.”

Fusing modern smarts with vintage swagger, Jane Lee Hooker exploded off the NYC club scene with last year’s No B! – a debut album whose rocket-fueled blues covers won acclaim from Classic Rock Magazine, and The Blues and led them onto major stages like Rockpalast. Rockpalast in Germany, Mountain Jame and The Big Blues Bender.“That was definitely a bucket-list moment,” they reflect, “and a really big deal for us.”

Jane Lee Hooker hit the studio with producer Matt Chiaravalle (credits?) and set the controls to “GO”. The album was written by the band as a unit “We wanted this album to sound like we do live – raw and high energy,” they explain. No B! – all live, no effects, no pedals, no overdubbing. I think we captured the excitement, and we have the same real sounds that we loved so much on No B” explains Hightop.

“This is a record of what was coming out of us in the summer of 2017,” Dana Danger continues. “One of the songs is about puppies, another song is about losing someone you thought you would have more time on earth with. One is about the legendary Kansas City venue Knuckleheads, another is about how falling in love can make you notice how beautiful and vibrant this world is. You have to guess which these apply to...!”

On How Ya Doin’, Dana treats this studio album like a live show, bantering with an imagined crowd over revving guitars and handclaps (“How ya doin’, Kansas City? It’s good to see ya. Don’t ya sit there looking pretty. You gotta get up on your feet”). Gimme That is a Stones-worthy swagger that blooms into a stomp-and-holler climax, while Mama Said features dueling guitars, rumbling bass and a defiant pick-yourself-up lyric, “Who ya gonna be, when life’s at its worst?”

Be My Baby rides on a cool-as-hell guitar part, while Later On has a lazy drumbeat and a rolling lick, offering a hand up to a loved one who’s been suffering, “Tonight, you’re mine.” Then there’s Black Rat, a blues-on-speed riot and the most stinging moment here, with Dana firing her vocal like a machine gun,“One day I’ll find your trail!.”

In an album of impressive stylistic shifts, there’s also The Breeze: a nine-minute blues slow-burner that allows the band to stretch out. How Bright The Moon, is a marked change of pace; starting out with piano and a tender, nuanced vocal, which breaks into a roaring soul torch-song that is a tantalising signpost to the directions this fascinating band could take in the future.

“We wanted to have an ‘album’ that people would listen to from beginning to end,” explain the lineup, “and find something to love about every song.” Mission accomplished. In a world of manufactured bands and bubblegum pop, Jane Lee Hooker are the real deal.

Jane Lee Hooker is:
Dana “Danger” Athens - vocals, piano, organ
Tracy "High Top" Almazan - guitar
Tina “T-Bone” Gorin - guitar
Melissa “Cool Whip” Houston - drums
“Hail Mary” Zadroga = bass

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