1. Nomad Hat
2. I Am Immune
3. Black And Blue
4. DNA 05 Ghost Man
6. Wheels Of Love
7. Wrong Side Of The Road
8. 20-20 Vision
10. Satisfying The Ritual
11. Show Me
Formed in Greater Manchester in 2008 and fronted by the feral Jonny Brown, Twisted Wheel have long been waving the flag for Rock’n’Roll in 21st Century. The band earned a cult and devoted following almost instantaneously, and with an irrepressible energy and gutsy live reputation, early in their career, Twisted Wheel were invited to support music titans the likes of Oasis, Kasabian, Paul Weller, Happy Mondays and Ian Brown to name but a few, and enjoyed sold-out tours in the UK and overseas in their own right.
However, intense wall-to-wall touring schedules and a matching hedonistic lifestyle would see them rolled, smashed-up and even set on fire and they inevitably took their toll. Twisted Wheel split in 2013. Jonny battled his demons and went from supporting Oasis to being on the street, with all that entails. So eight years after the release of their second album, a somewhat different Twisted Wheel are back with their third album, 'Satisfying The Ritual' which draws a lot of inspiration from Jonny’s bad times, but delivers a lot of positive messages. Twisted Wheel have subsequently been on tour with his old friend Liam Gallagher.
The opener is the gritty, ‘Nomad Hat’, which is full of energy and very expansive. Lyrics such as “No fixed abode, wander through fields of gold” have a positive vibe of freedom. The track is anthemic and should be a live favourite, especially with the “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” towards the end of the track, which is reminiscent of Noel on 'Slideaway'. ‘I Am Immune’ is a rip roaring Punk number aimed at trolls and the negative jealousy. It is raw and the lyrics are spat out with venomous anger, and Jonny is probably referring to himself when he sings “Yesterday I lost my way, my life was like a hurricane”. The rawness of the track adds to its authenticity and energy. Mental Health is tackled on ‘Black And Blue’. This is an Indie number with some exquisite guitar work. The use of a slide guitar sets it above from the crowd. Again there are some insightful lyrics such as “I don’t believe in anyone and I barely trust myself”. It is the first indication that this album is going to have depth and substance. The ethereal quality of ‘DNA’ re-inforces this. A deeply personal song about his mother’s passing away through alcoholism. Given Jonny’s history this even more poignant, and the lyric “I only saw her yesterday’ is heartbreaking.
‘Ghost Man’ has more than a touch of The Clash about it, mixed with some eighties Ska mixed in. It is multi genre and its bounciness and fun are needed after the sorrow of the the previous track. The chorus is ridiculously catchy. The catchy chorus and hooks are also in abundance in ‘Wheels Of Love’ which seems to be a foot stomping battle cry stating that Twisted Wheel are back in business. However all that glistens is not gold as the lyric “Well you’re sleeping on floors, whilst living the dream’ proves. Musically “Wrong Side Of The Road’ is superb. The guitar, percussion and bass are as tight as as you like on this track. This is a song about learning lessons from your past, and although the lessons were tough, it is a positive anthem. ’20-20 Vision’ initially sounds like it will be like an Oasis number, and there this feedback and Indie guitar but it bounces along in different directions and the catchy chorus has a punk feel to it. It is predominantly instrumental, full of Blues Rock Licks.
The darkness returns with ‘Rebel’ which is a reworking from the Jonny Guitar EP. The vocal intro is very dark, but the music is upbeat. The lyrics convey loneliness and isolation, especially with lines like “with devils’ brass” and “she’s my only friend”. This is another track that will go down a storm in the set list. This track merges with the sublime title track ‘Satisfying The Ritual’. I was not expecting a Faithless style hypnotic number with a Rap/Hip Hop vocal delivery. It absolutely works and we may hear more of this style I suspect. Twisted Wheel seem to have thrown everything in the studio at this, with its trippy assortment of effects and it just floats you away with multi layers, which contrast with the rawness of most of the previous tracks. The closing track by complete contrast is piano based with acoustic guitar. The fact that Bob Dylan is one of Jonny’s inspirations is obvious by the vocal delivery, especially with the drawl on “Bluuuud” on ‘Show Me’.It is a fitting end to the album and conveys that even in the darkest times, there is hope and light. It is a beautiful way to close the album.
After some very dark times Twisted Wheel are back with a tour de force message about survival. The majority of the tracks on this album are very personal, and do not hide from the fact that life is not always rosy and can be pretty bloody dark at times. Death, Mental Health and Isolation are explored but the light of Hope, Growth, and The Survival Instinct provide ying to the yang. Musically it is diverse and as an album it is very well ordered. This is not an album to be dipped into, but to be experienced, track by track. Jonny Brown has been to the precipice and has come back with Twisted Wheel to tell us the story, with an exceptionally good third album. Twisted Wheel are back and I hope they are here to stay.
Website - twistedwheel.tmstor.es
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/twistedwheel/
Review - Tony Creek