Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat the Devil's Tattoo

Timing is everything with me and music. I consume styles, genres and artists in phases -- not too long ago, I listened to nothing but blues and soul. I haven't played a Dylan record in months; at times I cannot get enough of him. The last six records on my turntable have been somewhere in the Kraftwerk / Brian Eno / Talking Heads continuum. What does this have to do with anything? When Black Rebel Motorcycle Club released their third album, Howl, in 2005, I was right in between a Dylan / The Band / Tom Waits binge and a revitalized interest in new music. That album, with its stripped-down, haunting folk rock, hit a sweet spot for me. It's still one of my favorite albums of the past decade. When they released "Baby 81" a couple years later, I saw it as a return to the form of their first two albums, but with subpar results. It was a disappointing follow-up to Howl, and I sort of let them go at that point.

Until last Friday, when they played the Showbox here in Seattle. A good friend of mine has a gig writing music reviews for an online publication (when his BRMC review goes live I'll link it here); he managed to snag me a +1 and a photo pass to cover the show. I'll let Wes tell the story with his review; for me, it was a reminder of just how great BRMC are as a band. Though they've largely moved on from that Howl sound, it's hard for me to think of a better blues rock band out there today. Maybe The Black Keys. But I'll take Black Rebel against The White Stripes every single day of the week. They even have a lady drummer. A LADY DRUMMER, LIZ LEMON!

(I do have to say, though, that the stuff they played from Howl received the warmest reception of the night.)

As for the photo assignment, it was a great learning experience. I've never shot in those lighting conditions before (for the most part I was shooting with a zoom lens, sans flash, from the back of the club), so I was kind of at the will of the stage lighting. The photos you see here are my own; I've put up a small gallery here. Out of about 150 shots taken, I got maybe 20 that I'd call presentable, nine of which made it into the gallery. But it was a lot of fun, and I hope to do it again some time.

So, the music. I'll close with a couple tracks from their new album, "Beat the Devil's Tattoo," which I'm pretty high on. Here's the album opener and title track, shot live at THE VERY SHOW I WAS AT:

(The mix is terrible, and that is the Showbox's fault; here is the album version.)

And here's the album version of "The Toll," which could be an outtake from Howl:

(I told you guys Matt Bouldin looks like that dude.)


Eric said...

Wow, he does. Christ. When that get him in trouble with the NCAA? I think it might.

Craig said...

They're the opening band in 9 Songs. I always wonder what the bands in that movie think about being featured in one of the most famous "mainstream" pornos of the last decade.

Oh God... It's Lou. said...

Now I gots another cd to pick up. Thanks heaps. But in a good way.

And what story here would be complete without a "Lou stoner anecdote"?

One of the cooks I worked with at Outback was a very devout metalhead (pot). Invited me over, let me play a couple of the guitars, and I rocked out like Jimi when I was able to finger out the national anthem by ear (I have no guitar training). Then he put on a cd from Eagles of Death Metal.

"Beat the Devil's Tattoo" reminds me of a song by EDM entitled "Kiss the Devil." I remember being baked out of my mind thinking this guy was trying to convert me to Satanism, starting to freak out because I couldn't leave for fear of never making it home if I drove in the state I was in. I crashed on his couch, woke up, and managed to make it on time to a Cal III class I understood a little better that day in particular.