Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nick and the Overols Telegraph Taboo Album Review


This CD review was originally published in the March 21, 2013 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Nick and the Ovorols – Telegraph Taboo

Self Release

10 tracks / 46:09

Some guitarists spend their entire lives searching for the perfect tone, but it sounds like Chicago’s Nick Peraino hit the mark early and then some. On Nick and the Overols’ debut studio CD, Telegraph Taboo, he lays down some of the heaviest hitting blues rock tones I have ever heard. Who would ever guess that he started out as a jazz musician?

Nick is a Yankee that moved to the windy city in the late 1990s so he could study jazz guitar at DePaul University and to be closer to the Mecca of blues music. After college he toured the Midwest with his own band and worked as a sideman around town. He took the role of frontman again when he formed Nick and the Overols in 2011, and their music is not jazzy at all! Nick provides the guitar, bass and other stringed instrument parts on this album, and he is joined by Lance Lewis on drums, Marcin Fahmy on keyboards and Honeesoul on backing vocals. Peraino produced Telegraph Taboo and wrote all of the tracks, with Lewis having co-writing credit on the first song.

And the first song is one raw piece of electric blues. “Take the V Train” uses a guitar pattern that repeats and then layers over a heavy ride cymbal and kick drum with Lewis hammering out a basic bass part. Despite the great guitar sounds, Nick’s voice is the star here. He comes off like a harder-edged Paul Rodgers, which is a good thing. The lyrics are simple with no frills, which is something you will find throughout the album.

After the first track, things turn up a notch. “Chitown Via Greyhound” has a couple of false starts, almost like he is trying to figure out the best way to approach the song, and then it just takes off like a bat out of hell. For this one Peraino uses heavily distorted guitars with a neat slide solo overlay. Lewis is back on the drums for this track and he lays down a serious beat. This song segues into the slow rolling “Heed the Words I Say” which has a slightly funkier vibe due to the inclusion of Fahmy’s B3.

“Honey Please” is a standout track, with a bit more of a modern sound. It is upbeat with thumpy bass and lots of toms and kick drum. Peraino tortures his voice as he strings together an impressive string of musical clich├ęs. His guitars are all over the place and he has some truly awesome solos that battle with each other. Then “Mojo A Go Go” brings the soul and funk out with some wacky distorted keyboard parts. Though the material is all blues-based, Nick and the Ovorols manage to come up with a lot of different sounds and tones, so things never get into a rut.

The vocals are overpowered by the music in the slow-burning “Hey, Mr. President” to the point where I had a hard time understanding the words. This is fine with me as I do not like to mix my music with politics. After this song the album takes a turn and we are treated to a neat ballad, “Try Me,” which is the longest track on Telegraph Taboo, coming in at 7 ½ minutes. In this song Nick shows just how pretty he can sing, and his voice works so well with Honeesoul’s. Fahmy’s organ work is very tasteful, and Peraino’s guitars have a lot of neat textures in this tune, with a good mixture of clean and reverb layers. This is my favorite track on the album as it is just so well crafted. The mood becomes even more subdued with “Day to Day,” a bare bones ballad. The drums are left out as Nick experiments with delay-soaked acoustic guitar and some edgy effects. He also throws a little accordion into the mix, which adds nicely to the unique sound of this track.

The band picks up the tempo and brightens the mood with the soulful “Half of Two” as Honeesoul returns. And to close out the album, Nick gives us “Soundtrack to Life” which a short yet mournful guitar-only a capella tune.

Telegraph Taboo was an ambitious undertaking, and Nick and the Overols were up to the task. This is a collection of twelve very good original songs, and if you like hard-hitting electric blues this will be just the ticket for you. Check it out if you get a chance -- you will be glad you did!


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