The great advantage of knowing your musical history, of course, is that you have plenty of material to reference, be inspired by, to fill in the gaps between, cross pollinate and generally explore. In the same way that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it, there is a reason why some sounds and styles continue to exist, evolve and advance and others become musical cul-du-sacs. Nelson King clearly knows his musical history. And because of this he is able to take familiar threads and weave whole new designs with them, ones that are both fresh yet familiar.
Throughout its 9 tracks Lo-Fi meanders through the underbelly of rock and roll, borrowing a Stones lick here, referencing the Thunders swagger there and often revelling in a sneering punk (Lower East Side division) approach that seemingly reveres the genre and tries to obliterate it at the same time. Its garage rock feel reminds us of what’s really important – attitude rather than intricacies, groove rather than grandiose statements. And if in the wrong hands such a blending of blues, r&b and rock might result in a pastiche of what has gone before, Nelson King knows just which dark and sleazy elements to use to create his wrong side of the tracks music, how to infuse it with an illicit danger and the feeling that you could do with a shower after listening to the album.
The songs groove and grind, run around four to the floor rock outs yet are also capable of tender tunefulness and reflective moments. Straight down the line rock and roll has survived this long because it delivers the goods in an accessible and unfussy fashion, has edge and paints wonderful pictures for the listener. Nelson King is very aware of this and because of it Lo-Fi ticks all the required boxes….and a few more I hadn’t even thought of.