Track Review: Suburban Dirts- Fire On the Campsite





Suburban Dirts


Fire On the Campsite






Fire On the Campsite is available via:


2nd June, 2014


The album, A Tiny Little Island in a Big Bad Sea is available at:



Fire On the Campsite- 9.4/10.0

Hose Ban Blues- 9.3

Everybody's Friend- 9.2

Ain't Nobody Ever Told You- 9.3

Punchball Blues- 9.4

You Kill Me- 9.2

Any Other Morning- 9.3

One- 9.2

Occasionally Drunk- 9.4

Queen o' Pity- 9.2

All of This- 9.2


Occasionally Drunk


18 November 2013 (operando)


Country, Alternative, Blues


Suburban Dirts are still in their musical nappies: displaying an unexpectedly fast development, the sextet have charmed some of the world's most legendary producers to their cause. A Tiny Little Island in a Big Bad Sea shows why (they are so revered): myriad themes, styles and genres playfully implore throughout; leaving you not only with a huge smile- but a favourite new band.


LUCK and creative avarice are topics one usually does not apply to new music.

Many of the fledgling artists I encounter have had a hard struggle: born from nothing, they spend their days toiling and proffering with impassioned intent. Some of the time this attention to detail and dedication reaps rewards: acts often come across hungry fans and loyal supporters- most of the time the job at hand can be fraught and never-ending. I bring up this point, because Suburban Dirts' talents have seen them capture the ear of some rather impressive names- producer Ray Staff is amongst them. A lot of new bands take years to find a record label; maybe some breaks come along the way, but the plain truth is this: most embryonic talent have to accept the fact that enfevered adulation and patronage arrives a long way down the line- if at all that is. Suburban Dirts are a unique and ambitious group that have stumbled upon a rich vein of sound: they mix Country and Blues sub-genres with an understanding that few other bands do. Being based out of Hertfordshire, the six-piece come across as a- pleasurable at least- shock: Britain is used to hosting Indie, Rock and Pop bands- making Suburban Dirts an anomoly and stand-out.  This goes a long way to  accounting for their expeditious rise to prominence. Perhaps I should shed some more light...

John Wheatley - Lead Vocal / Acoustic Guitar / Harmonica Ryan Davies - Lead Guitar David Austin - Drums / Vocals Chris Varley – Bass Jay Seymour - Keyboards Joolz Heath – Violin

"For a band that only formed two years ago, to have produced two albums and been lucky enough to work with stalwarts, such as Ian Rossiter (Gwen Stefani, Foals & Roisin Murphy) and the legendary Ray Staff (David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin) as well as gaining the attention of Boo Hewerdine (Eddie Reader, Darden Smith, Chris Difford) for his label, Haven Records, something must be going right. John, Chris and David formed Suburban Dirts and quickly enlisted Dave Moyes on Guitar and George North on percussion. They played their first gig in April 2011 at the Hertford Corn Exchange and then proceeded to work the gig circuit supporting John Otway & Wild Willy Barratt, Chris Helme and Dodgy. George left the band. They recorded their self-titled Debut album in a day at Loveday Studios and eventually enlisted Jay and Jools to complete the sound. Suburban Dirts was released on March 26th 2012 and gained critical acclaim around the Blues, Roots and Americana blogosphere. The Summer of 2012 proved to be very busy. Suburban Dirts were picked to play the Secret Garden Party and Standon Calling, as well as establishing their own residency at the Corn Exchange. In November 2012 they were offered an opportunity to go into Metropolis Studios and record a number of  demos. Having a dedicated work ethic, they decided that they could record more than just a number of demos and, once more, recorded their follow up album in a day, in order to capture the energy of their live performance. The resultant tracks were mixed and produced by Ian Rossiter. Dave Moyes played on the album, but decided to pursue his own solo career shortly after recording finished. Early in 2013 Russell Sheffield saw the Suburban Dirts playing at their residency and was introduced to John through Daniel Fell (ex The Argonauts). Russell was suitably impressed and offered to lend support where possible. In May 2013, after hearing the rough mixes of the second album, Russell introduced the band to Ray Staff and enlisted his talents to master the album, A Tiny Little Island In The Big Bad Sea. Shortly after circulating the album amongst confidantes, Russell decided to sign the band to his company, operando, and the album is being released under licence to Boo Hewerdine’s label, Haven Records. A Tiny Little Island In The Big Bad Sea is due for release on 18th November 2013. The third album is already underway…"

Electric Trailer Trash Country and Country Blues, are sounds usually found in the U.S.- it is rare to experience them in the U.K. There is no sense of cliché or parody to the band's sound: if you appreciate Blues music with a twang of the Deep South (laced with humour, spark and rawness) then you need to check out Suburban Dirts. Having such a fond appreciation and knowledge for the likes of Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams and Neil Young; you get plenty of yearning, intelligence and passion come through: if you have any of these legends in your record collection, you will find some pleasingly familiar shades. Critics have pointed out how original the sextet are: they have vintage tones, yet do not take from any other artists. What you get is bare-boned campside singalongs; Alternative and Folk tenderness; optimism and soul-searching: it is music that can be enjoyed by all- that which imposes no limits.

Suburban Dirts unveiled their self-titled (debut) L.P. in 2012: an album that captured a great deal of attention and praise. The ten-track collection was rife with confidence, bravery and incredible production values: they came across as a band that had been recording music for a decade or so. The album contained energy, relaxation and other such contradictions: so much range and diversity was apparent, that you struggled to take it all in. Such a rich and bounteous album was always likely to turn a few heads: the respect and feedback that was paid lead to- possibly the best album title ever- A Tiny Little Island in a Big Bad Sea. There is more confidence on their second cut: the production values are even stronger; you can sense how hard the group have worked to ensure that each song is as good as possible- there are no shortages of ideas and movements. In terms of genres and sounds, there is not a huge seismic shift: they pick up when A Tiny Little Island' left off; building upon their original templates- and ensuring that their hallmarks and distinctions are fully in tact. Life has changed and events have developed- all of which are documented throughout the L.P.- and new stories are being told: there have been changes, yet nothing that will alienate existing fans.

The hoe-down, low-down Blues sound pays no quarter to silence: instantly a slap-kneed percussive beat is tempted in; keen to motivate feet-tapping and clapping; Wheatley steps to the fore. His voice is in boisterous and inspired mode; rousing the troops, he pays paen to the evening's phlogiston: "we all wanna see something burn." After a subtle and mood-building opening 30 seconds, energy and uplift is presented. Our frontman heard the train coming ("from miles and miles around"); immersed in the spirit of the moment, schemes and plans fill his head- an audible smile comes to his lips, and you can sense there is merriment afoot. Although Wheatley has "had it easy", he is trying to prove his worth; compelled and reinvigorated, a new lease of life is unfurled- the sense of itinerant and transitory intent comes through in the vocal performance. The band whip up a festival of Country/Blues kick: the composition is simple and sparse, yet instilled with merriment, gravity and perpetual charm. Before too long, you know what's coming: that indelible and sing-along chorus come back in- you find yourself joining in; full of voice, smile on face. After the reintroduction of the chorus, violin is interspersed between percussion, bass and guitar- adding to the palette and layering in romantic undertones. The song's story keeps moving and developing: this new scene depicts our frontman awoken; in a hollow woodland, he has thoughts of a black crow on his mind- a sheet of paper in one hand. Confused and disoriented, he reads what is written on the page: "Who is tweedledum without tweedledee?" This tantalising treatise paints some rather vivid and colourful images- I imagine our frontman in some dark recess; unshaven and in need of answers. A locomotive and chug-chug guitar skiffle is a steam-powered sonic projection: backed by his comrades, Wheatley is jumping the rails and heading back home. When he arrives, he is a mere stranger ("Where do I belong?") Having rocked up in his hometown, Wheatley is a different man: possessed of a new spirit and fresh ideals, there is some internal conflict. Adding texture and sparks into the melting pot, Suburban Dirts allow Davies's Blues-infused guitars to electrify and swoon; blending with acoustic guitar, an odd sense of sexuality and sweat enters the innocent-hearted tableau. Your mind is transported from the forest, into the bar: a certain Jack Daniels-soaked stagger does its plying- and the smile (on your face) widens.

The take-away one gets from Fire On the Campsite is one of pleasure, happiness and pure old-fashioned fun. The production values on the track are incredible: every note and word comes through crystal-clear. One of my biggest (and most regular) criticisms of artists, is that a lot of their music is inaudible, indecipherable and unintelligible. If it is difficult picking up lyrics or certain sounds, the music suffers because of it: because of production quality or poor projection, I am not sure why. Fire On the Campsite not only sparkles and glistens (it is by no means over-produced), but atmosphere and vintage Blues and Country bid and tease throughout. The song itself is a busy, charming and compelling track that can shake one out of complacency- and improve your day considerably. U.S. acts like Seasick Steve, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Soggy Bottom Boys can be extrapolated: our British heroes have a bona fide ability to evoke the grizzly spirit of the Deep South. If you are normally associated with heavy sounds and other genres (of music) then you should not ignore this track: it is borderless and able to transcend any mood or predicament. At the heart of the track is fun and sing-along wonder. The sextet prove themselves to be deft and detailed songwriters: able to present a huge amount of story, intrigue and scenery. I was impressed by how tight and intuitive the band are as a whole: each member adds a huge amount, and beautifully cojoin with their brothers- making sure that Fire On the Campsite never relents or slouches. With a catchy and memorable chorus, root-for-the-hero lyrics and a captivating composition: we have a sure-fire winner. Wheatley is a singer with a unique voice: he has his own distinct tones, yet can also summon up plenty of good ol' boys candour and hirsute merriment. Each word sticks in your brain, and there is a sense of disappointment when the song ends: you always want to hear a little bit more. Davies and Austin play brilliantly: the percussion is time-keeping and mood-driving; firm and steely when needed- soft and romantic at times. The guitar work throughout (from Wheatley) is impressive and full of life. Acoustic guitars get your feet moving and present as much Country-fried candour as they can; the electric Blues-ridden strings smoulder and crackle with sexuality- there is never too much force; everything is seamlessly incorporated. Varley, Seymour and Heath are elemental and essential throughout. The bass work keeps the energy and grin-o-meter set to 'maximum'; violin work is exhilarating, soul-searching and uplifting; keys and classic elements add softness and tenderness- and ensure that this unforgettable song compels you to listen to it again and again.

It is no coincident that high-profile producers are lining up to work with Suburban Dirts: their music is rife with detail, pleasure and hidden treasure. A Tiny Little Island in a Big Bad Sea is abound with stunning music: perhaps best represented in Occasionally Drunk. There are rampant testaments to the joys of inhibition loss; touching and tender singalongs; raucous tracks like Punchball Blues- the list goes on. Few bands can cram as much energy and range across an L.P., yet Suburban Dirts do so- perhaps it isn't the case- with effortlessness. Slinking harmonica and guitar parables provide classic Blues touches; Everybody's Friend's Americana- cum-Soul marks itself out as a highlight- if you do not like one track, another gem is waiting in the wings. Even though you can hear embers of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan (circa Highway 61 Revisited), nothing comes across as ripped-off: quite the opposite in fact. The sextet gleefully slink '60s U.S. swathes inside of-the-minute Indie joy: A Tiny Little Island in a Big Bad Sea is a stunning opus. Full-out Blues has been curtailed and temporized slightly: here, there is richness and greater leaning towards the Americana masters. The band evolve and grow stronger with each release; bands such as The National do this confidently, yet few new musicians are capable of it: kudos to Suburban Dirts that their confidence and adventurousness results in golden quality. There are so many different bands and acts on the current music scene: if you want to grab attention and pull in the big dollar, your music needs to separate itself from the pack: Suburban Dirts are marking themselves out as future leaders. Some may argue that their sound means that they will play only a handful of festivals: perhaps it is a little niche and distinctive. I would argue that there is enough within A Tiny Little Island in a Big Bad Sea to thrill the tents and muddy fields of Reading and Leeds; enough anthemic multifariousness to inspire the nodding heads of Glastonbury- as well as progress into the mainstream. I hope that the group keep the sound that they developed (for A Tiny Little Island in a Big Bad Sea): if they keep the pace and quality consistent, then few ears will be able to ignore them. Given their rate of output and turnaround, the group are probably almost through album number three- I shall not put too much pressure on them! They clearly love what they are doing, and are keen to connect with as many new followers as possible: they should have no trouble with new recruitment. Their fast-rolling ball of music is gathering pace and potency... 

ENSURE that you get in its way.


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