Thursday, March 18, 2010 review...

By Graham Marlowe

For the Los Angeles-based Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC), the last year-and-a-half has been rather strange. After a long-winded tour in Europe, carrying over to the States in early 2008, the band released The Effects of 333 in the fall. It’s an album built on equal parts musique concrète and ambient noise.

Effects marked their departure from major-label obligations and constraints. Instead, they released it on their own label, Abstract Dragon. The weirdness of Effects continued with the release of a Live DVD/album in the fall, which featured more than two hours of strobe-filled mayhem from their 2008 European tour.

Once that tour was finished, drummer Nick Jago revealed that he had other (yet undisclosed) priorities to attend to. In a way, the Live CD/DVD was like the band symbolically waving goodbye to the past. While in limbo, the band picked up the Raveonettes’ touring drummer, Leah Shapiro, in order to reshape their image and sound with their sixth album.

Beat the Devil’s Tattoo finds the band in a newer, slightly more illuminated musical place. Many of these new tracks burn slowly, unlike their earlier material which more or less punches you in the face. This album makes you work for it a bit more, but it doesn’t mean that it’s any less enjoyable.

The redemptive imagery, the leather-clad theatrics, and the theme of you-and-me-against-the-world is not nearly as amplified as before, but this album carries a similar flavor. Also, unlike Baby 81, this album sounds dirty and raw, carrying an analog intimacy that perhaps they’ve grown to appreciate, mirroring their own influences. In this sense, there’s actually a distance between the band and its listeners’ headphones – a detached quality that hasn’t been present until now.

The independence of the newfound label is probably the best explanation for the change in songwriting present on Tattoo. By integrating garage-rock, post-punk, psychedelia, and space-rock into the mix over the years, BRMC has created a shit-kicking monochrome sound that utilizes several free thinking subgenres at once. In the countercultural/anarchical universe of BRMC’s music, things never really made complete sense anyways.

Certain melodies (e.g. “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” and “Conscience Killer”) sound like field hollers or modified blues riffs, which sound weird in the context of the band given that the material doesn’t progress in the same way that it’s presented. Other songs like the triumphant, anthemic “Bad Blood” and the trippy, drawn-out stomp of “Half-State” resemble something from Jason Pierce’s (Spiritualized) songbook, except they have a their own charismatic edge. These songs double as the album’s most prized, least-accessible moments. On “Half-State” in particular, Peter Hayes’ shimmery guitar leads fill the headphones with a space that is constantly expanding and speaking new tones.

The unknown folk roots that appeared on Howl (2005) are still part of the picture as well. “Sweet Feeling” and “The Toll” capture the essence of a deflated Hank Williams singing “Cool Water” – an acoustic Williams’ cover the boys play from time to time.

The title-track single, which is surprisingly weak compared to the rest of the album, states the band’s status quite clearly: “Everyone is king when there’s no one left to pawn.” Much like before, the band’s invitation to chaos still stands. And although Tattoo is a far cry from the cohesiveness of the other albums, this collection is by far their most promising in years.

2 comments: BTDT review...

By Beth Keating.

I read a really shitty review of the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album, Beat the Devil’s Tattoo today. Actually, I read more than one shitty review, but this one absolutely took the cake. And I’m not referring to the writer’s disdainful opinion of the album – I’m talking about construction, approach and content. I’ve been listening to Beat the Devil’s Tattoo for the last few days, trying to sum up articulated opinions that extend further than “I like it. Lots.” After reading the majority of what’s on offer, in terms of criticism, I’m even more compelled to get this piece right.

So, where to begin?

How about somewhere right after four consecutive listens? That’s in one morning, to be crystal. I think in total, over the last two days I’ve listened to Beat the Devil’s Tattoo about fifteen times in full. And those articulated opinions are still not making themselves evident. From the gritty, gangrene rock assaults, to the soft and beautiful ballads, it’s hard to pick a fault with BRMC’s latest offering. Simmering throughout each track is an intense and infectious energy that becomes more addictive on each subsequent listen.

It’s not as if Beat the Devil’s Tattoo is a complete 180 in terms of style or approach. Rather, it’s almost as if the band have chosen introspect over external influence, pulling elements from their previous incarnations seen on prior releases. ‘Mama Taught Me Better’ draws on the distorted, panic-inducing bass we became familiar with through B.R.M.C and Take Them On, On Your Own. ‘Sweet Feeling’ and ‘The Toll’ sweep across you like the gentle folk-influenced balladry introduced on Howl. And, the title track invigorates with subtle instrumentation and thundering percussion, recalling the absolute highlight of 2007s Baby 81.

The album's name is in reference to a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, The Devil in the Belfry, a darkly satirical tale about a devil who comes to a town, destroying it's traditions and stagnancy, and inciting change and creativity. While the band are cautious to amplify the extent of the piece on the entire album, there's something so apt about the connection and Beat the Devil's Tattoo. BRMC have always possessed an intriguing charm, enough to carry through albums which sometimes lack a cohesive consistency. With this latest release, the band has, externally, somewhat forcefully embraced change - through the departure of long-time drummer, Nick Jago, and the introduction of Leah Shapiro.

Much like Poe's storytelling, Beat the Devil's Tattoo builds a landscape which is layered, complex and darkly beautiful. There are moments where the darkness is pertinently obvious - sure to satisfy fans lusting after the band's signature distorted psychedelia. The best bits of Peter Hayes' and Robert Levon Been's balladry are also present, and can't be overlooked. 'Sweet Feeling' is one of those haunting musical pieces, where a true sense of isolation, desperation and lust are conveyed perfectly through stark instrumentation.

The best thing about Beat the Devil's Tattoo is its accessibility. This isn't a harder-edged album, nor is it strictly a stripped back blues-based escapade. The thirteen tracks never drag, refusing to outstay their welcome. There's something wonderfully wrenching about each song - something that makes you move your feet unconsciously, or pause for a moment and just listen.

Beat the Devil's Tattoo is an impressive accomplishment, and a pleasure to play, over and over and over... and over.


07/03/10 Portland@Wonder Ballroom

Thanks to the QRO Magazine we can have a closer look how good was the Portland gig...

Written by Eddie Alzamora
Tuesday, 16 March 2010              
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Much like their name implies, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is a band that is constantly on the move, looking for a place to park and show off their style.

"Whatever Happened With My Rock ‘n’ Roll (punk song)" was the fitting ending to the first set.  This set the stage and confirmed to the audience, that this black-clad threesome must also wonder where they come from, how they got here, and where are they going.  With their effortless cool, delta-blues, rock swagger this San Francisco threesome relies on the Sounds Better Loud approach to music, since at times they need it to hide their lack of smarts and originality.  That being said, they often play sold-out shows, have a large following, and their music, while heavy on mood and atmosphere but light on substance, is never less than great.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Leah Shaprio
Selling out a concert on a rainy night in Portland, Oregon may not be difficult.  Make it a decent-sized venue like The Wonder Ballroom in northeast Portland, Oregon on a Sunday night in March, and that is a different story.  Jumping on stage right at 9:30 PM with the final chords of The Stooges' "Forgotten Boy" still ringing in the speakers, BRMC began their 24-song assault on the crowd.  By the second song "Mama Taught Me Better," with its fast and wild unifying theme, they found their groove and made it felt among the masses.  Using the first 13-song set to mostly showcase their new album, Beat The Devil's Tattoo, they continued their genre-pilfering sound by weaving psychedelica, groove, beats, and shoegaze.  The fifth song "Bad Blood" brought the crowd to the head-nodding, foot-stomping feel, and the sixth song "Beat The Devil's Tattoo" was a dark trip to their sexiest sound, which had much to do with new drummer Leah Shapiro, harmonizing the last few lines.  This proved that besides the perfect drum-machine-like playing from the ex-Raveonette (QRO album review), she adds a sense of femininity to a very masculine sound.  While song eight, "Loan", started the shake, "Berlin" brought the rattle, and "Weapon" brought the roll, they were at their sonic best during crowd favorite "Berlin".  Before ending the first set wondering what happened to their rock ‘n’ roll, they threw the audience for another genre loop with song twelve, "Ain't No Easy Way".  This harmonica-laden ditty reminded us that these guys are true-blue American born and bred.  
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Robert Levon Been
The second set started acoustically and allowed the crowd, who was ready to mosh (much to the dislike of the band), a chance to relax, catch their breath, allow their pupils a rest from the strobe lights, and grab another drink.  The six songs that followed served almost as an intermission.  This period of down-tempo, almost trance-dance switch, thanks to their obvious shoegaze influence and Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been's harmonizing ‘la-las,’ seemed like the time where BRMC were most at ease and content with their sound.  The third and final set included their classic, "666 Conducer".  This allowed the long-time fans to stand out from the newer fans, as they sang along or swayed at the right parts.  Followed by the beautiful "Stella Adore", the set ended almost unnoticed with the new one "Shadows Keeper".  If this song is their idea of a single, they might want to keep it in the shadows.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Peter Hayes
To the new listener they are a good band, and to the fans they are still a good band.  Most know they'll never win a Grammy, sell-out stadiums, or hear them on Top 40 radio.  Maybe that is their appeal: their inability to be labeled, lack of vision and drive, but still sounding vaguely familiar.  They allow people to feel encapsulated in their own dark, original coolness, knowing that they are musically well grounded, while remembering past heroes and influences, and feeling like it's ok to not move on.  Enlivened by hyperactive controlled chaos, strobe lights, and with a non-existent stage-presence, these semi-immobile people in black are always able to make the crowds love them, and Portland was no exception.  Thank God for lovers of garage-rock, blues, folk revival, shoegaze, post-punk revival, Americana, neo-psychedelica, religiously inspired lyrics, Marlon Brando, and HD radio, since it allows a place for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to live.  Just remember to wear black and play it loud for optimal sound.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club



BTDT debuts US Top 10

"Beat The Devil’s Tattoo" has debuted in the top 10 of U.S. Alternative charts. The album is #4 on the core alternative store charts, and #9 overall on the alternative album chart.

The band would like to thank everyone for buying the album.


Monday, March 15, 2010

05/03/10 Seattle@Showbox Market


another Echoplex shows review...

B.R.M.C. You Are Going To Get A Great Review!

March 11, 2010
The Echoplex, Los Angeles

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Oh guys, it’s been WAY too long!! One of my favorite B.R.M.C. memories is when I first heard their debut album, B.R.M.C. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, back in 2000. It may have even been an advance copy, and my colleague and friend, Brigitte, had just added it to the rotation at the office. “WHO is THIS?!” we all asked. “B.R.M.C.” Brigitte would respond as if to say, “Yeah, I know what’s up. . . “  “What’s B.R.M.C.?” we’d beg for as much insight as possible. Brigitte would take a deep breath and then enunciate the words with purpose and precision: “Black. Rebel. Motorcycle. Club.” Their first album was aptly self-titled, and soon, you knew who they were.

Robert Levon Been

My second favorite B.R.M.C. memory is when they played acoustic at The Hotel Cafe several years ago. It was after Howl which came out in 2005, so this was four or five years ago. To this day, that moment remains among my top Hotel Cafe memories. And, as you can see, it’s simultaneously one of my all-time favorite B.R.M.C. memories.

Peter Hayes

My most favorite B.R.M.C. memory is the show they played at The Echoplex tonight, 10 years after I was initially introduced to them. As stated on their website, “Somewhere between the five full-length albums and a decade-long road test across the highways of the world, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club found their way.”


I’d say B.R.M.C. found their way at the beginning, or knew their way all along.  Here’s a band that is exceptionally talented and they could have taken some shortcuts along the way, they could have sold out, they could have given up.  Instead, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club maintained their art and their integrity and took some risks.  I remember when they released Howl and it was a departure from the B.R.M.C. “signature sound” fans became so familiar with.  It was during a time when several bands were veering away from the music they had become known for, and without fail, each departure was an absolute disaster.  But not B.R.M.C.  Howl was a standout album for the band, and a likely bridge to the wider audience that is now among their fans.  Howl became yet another proof point of just how talented the band is.

Peter Hayes, Robert Levon Been, and Leah Shapiro were, simply put: fuckin’ great! They played everything from, one of my personal favorites, “Open Invitation” to “Berlin,” “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo,” “Bad Blood,” “White Palms,” “The Toll,” and “Ain’t No Easy Way.”   Robert did most of the speaking, which is ironic because one of the first things he said was, “I woke up this morning and had no voice.”  You wouldn’t know anybody wasn’t feeling up to par based on their performance.  It was one of the tightest shows I’ve seen in recent memory.  10 years ago it was one of the tightest shows I had seen then.

B.R.M.C. stuck it out through the de-evolution of record labels and the dissolution of other bands that began around the same time as they did.  B.R.M.C. haven’t compromised a thing, are better than ever, and are now playing 3 sold-out shows at The Echoplex – which gives you 2 more shows to get to.  No excuses.  See this band.

B.R.M.C. at The Echoplex Night 2: My 10-Year Love Affair Continues

March 12. 2010
B.R.M.C. Night 2 of 3
The Echoplex, Los Angeles

 Robert Levon Been and Leah Shapiro

You can read about my 10-year love affair with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, as well as my review of Friday night’s show, here.  Last night was night 2 of 3 sold-out B.R.M.C. shows at The Echoplex and they did not disappoint.
They’re supporting their new album, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, so naturally they played some of the same songs during both Friday and Saturday’s sets.  That said, having gone both nights, B.R.M.C.  managed to make each show feel entirely different.  It’s difficult to describe and I’m not sure I want to.  Just know that last night’s show made me want to go again Sunday night.   The music and their performance of it is simply, and consistently, that  good.

Peter Hayes

Some of my favorite moments last night included performances of “Sympathetic Noose,” “Steal A Ride,” “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo,” “Ain’t No Easy Way,” “Never Known You,” “Shuffle Your Feet,” and of course, “Open Invitation.”  As was the case Friday night, B.R.M.C. closed out Saturday night’s set in darkness, connected to the audience via a web of green lasers, with “Open Invitation.”  In case you don’t know “Open Invitation,” the lyrics include the lines “Pull me up, on either side. Don’t leave me standing alone in the light. . .”  The song in and of itself is beautiful and among my favorites by B.R.M.C, both lyrically and musically.  Add to it the intersecting web of laser lights, each beam of light connecting members of the audience with the band and each other, cutting through the darkness and stillness, and the effect you get is that you no longer feel the slightest bit alone.  And so my ten year love affair with B.R.M.C. continues.


If you’ve missed them in L.A., you have one more chance to see B.R.M.C. this week and I highly suggest you do.  They’ll be returning to the Echoplex for their third performance Sunday night.  They’re also continuing on tour around the U.S., so if you live anywhere else in the country, check out their tour dates here.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Even after 10 years, I’m still learning new things about B.R.M.C. which lead me to love them even more.  During a visit to their merch booth I purchased some limited edition vinyl and picked up a postcard that explains, in detail, the band’s commitment to responsibly sourcing their merchandise.  In an effort to ensure they don’t support child labor in cotton fields around the world, B.R.M.C. has gone out of their way to research and partner with Continental Clothing for all their apparel merchandise
Continental Clothing uses only organic cotton and certifies its products are ethically produced.  Looking forward to another decade with B.R.M.C.

Videos from last night’s show:
It gets even better beginning at 3:04 – watch it all the way through.



11/03/10 show LA Times review...

March 12, 2010 | 11:46 am
BRMC_3_ When Black Rebel Motorcycle Club took the stage of the Echoplex on Thursday night, the group had a few things to prove. After breaking out in 2001 with a huge buzz -- and not just the one coming from that assortment of overworked amps stacked onstage -- the band has rumbled down a rocky path. This engagement (the first of three sold-out nights at the club) came near the beginning of a tour introducing new drummer Leah Shapiro and flogging a new album, “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo,” that came out Tuesday.

Any concerns were quickly blown away by BRMC’s full-on assault of the senses from the stage, mixing fog and strobe lights, sweeping mini-floods and, of course, the three-person wall of sound led by bassist Robert Levon Been and guitarist Peter Hayes. The two share vocals, sometimes trading off, at other times overlapping, one bleeding into the other seamlessly.

Occasionally, Shapiro adds a high-end edge, as on the new album’s title track, which came off as kind of a Love & Rockets-style ritualistic chant, with Been putting down his bass in favor of an old acoustic-electric Gibson. Been also switched over to keyboards on a handful of songs and it’s that kind of variety that, in the end, made the two-hour set so satisfying.

BRMC could easily survive on the sheer power of its most room-rattling numbers. Instead, Thursday night’s mix, which sampled generously from the band’s previous efforts as well as new material, included piano-based ballads, solo acoustic efforts by both Hayes and Been, and a smattering of the old-style, harmonica-accented, back-porch blues (think Muddy Waters meets Jimi Hendrix) that they dove into on their third album, “Howl.”

Just when it seemed like the energy level had been taken down precariously low, the L.A.-based band (by way of S.F.) proved it knew exactly what it was doing, building back to a shattering climax, with piercing lights adding to the aural assault of “666 Conducer,” and shortly thereafter sending everyone home with a soothing, laser-accented serenade.

Coming on the heels of an entertaining and occasionally annihilating set from Athens, Ga.’s the Whigs, the evening presented a strong argument for the pure pleasure available from that most basic of rock ‘n’ roll combos: the power trio.

-- Frank Farrar


Saturday, March 13, 2010 says...

Posted by therockdoc

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s latest record is like a hurricane of sound: it’s a relentless noise storm of thunderous guitar, boom-clap drums and ominous lyrics.  But at the eye of the storm, the album is dark, bluesy folk with spiritual rhetoric.  It has a heaven-and-hell, good-versus-evil dichotomy; lyrics full of desperation, affliction and sin ride on crests of crashing guitar and drums.

From song titles (such as “River Styx”) and the album’s own name (“Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”), BRMC does little to hide their theme.

However, the band does cloak their folk-centered style with psychedelia, blues and garage rock.  “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” gushes with the normal guitar fuzz of their past albums, but never before has it had such a heavy presence.  Combine it with lead singer Robert Levon Been’s resolute voice and words, and the music has a sort of enrapturing mysticism.

Been, along with guitarist/vocalist Peter Hayes and drummer Leah Shapiro, wrote a tight record that maintains its motifs from song to song.  It’s even more cohesive than “Baby 81,” their extraordinary 2007 record that featured hits like “Berlin” and “Weapon of Choice.”

BRMC puts together an unforgettable storm: they captivate on the title track, an anthem reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s later works. Folk balladry and religious undertones pave the way before the track morphs into a haunting processional:

Your soul is able, death is all you cradle
Sleepin’ on the nails, there’s nowhere left to fall
You have admired, what every man desires
Everyone is king when there’s no one left to pawn

Later, on “River Styx,” the band is mesmerizing.  It’s an awesomely dark concoction: one part greasy southern rock-strut, one-part blues hymnal soul that sizzles into a sinister trance.
BRMC’s throttles up on “Conscience Killer,”

a muscle flex of the garage psychedelia akin to Aussie trio The Vines with a groove that hints at Jet.
“Bad Blood” and “Evol” even reach the sonic plateau of Radiohead: undulating tidal waves that swell and crash with might.

But BRMC is really in their element when they unload.  The storm really gets a brewin’ on pummeling tracks like “Mama Taught Me Better,” “War Machine,” “Shadow’s Keeper” and the 10-minute opus “Half State”—churners with guitar riptides that pull and never let go.

And on “Mama Taught Me Better,” Been himself seems taken by the storm he’s helped to create:

Can you see a world you have never felt
When you sleep the nightmare becomes yourself
But it just takes so much to make you sick when your heart’s a bullet
But if you could fill some lead in me you would pass through it

From the violent waves of sound, hazy swirl of guitar and hammering rhythms, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s latest record is a whirlwind.  But if you can weather the storm, you’re in for one hell of a ride.

0 comments: review...

Over the last two decades, San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has found itself in the midst of an ever changing identity crisis. Well, maybe crisis isn’t the right word; uncertainty fits better. After several years of back and forth infighting between original drummer Nick Jago and guitarists Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been, it seems the strings have at long last been cut; for now at least. Joined now by the Raveonettes’ drummer Leah Shapiro, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club releases their sixth studio album, Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, their first since their 2008 instrumental record The Effects of 333 and 2007’s Baby 81. This is also the first release from the band’s own label Abstract Dragon. The emergence is a return the sound the band enjoyed during the early years with pound-it-out style rock and roll with a healthy mix of folk gospel induced melodies thrown in, akin to 2004’s Howl.

After the first listen of the opening and title track, ‘Beat the Devil’s Tattoo’, it’s the first time I’ve been excited for a BRMC album since Howl. That album carried mixed reviews and from a purely economic standpoint, was a disappointment. However, it marked a turning point in the band and produced some of the best songwriting thus far. That is, until now. The first track is just the tip of the ice-berg followed by the one-two knock out blows of ‘Conscience Killer’ and ‘Bad Blood’ Here, Hayes and Been are relentless in the attempt to regain their momentum. The former, a powerful pounding, psych-rock trip reminiscent of the Stroke’s at their height of popularity, the latter which relies more on the group’s distinctive vocals.

‘War machine’ explodes from the outset exhibiting a White Stripes-esque guitar riff with the kind of authority that makes groupies swoon. This is one track I am looking forward to hearing live next week during SXSW. This power fades into ‘Sweet Feeling’ displaying the group’s versatility drawing from their big bag of influences. This soft emotional side doesn’t last long before the ironically titled ‘Evol’ smacks the listener across the head with traditional BRMC drawl and slow building instrumentation we have become use to over their two-decade career. This release is an ‘evolution’ of the sounds produced throughout their 6 album releases and combines the best of all of them.

We get our first good examination of the addition of Shapiro with her raging, pulse pounding rhythms on ‘River Styx’. It’s at first obvious that she was a good choice to fill the void left by Jago and brings the stability of which Hayes and Been have been searching all along. The hypnotic brogue of Aya, building to a strong raucous ballad and the impressive 10-minute jam session of ‘Half State’ close out the record with a strong note. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has been waiting their entire careers to construct an album like Beat the Devil’s Tattoo and it’s no surprise that based on where they’ve come from, they have many more to come. I am certainly back on the bandwagon.

Catch their SXSW showcase March 19th at 11:00 at La Zona Rosa and they are also playing the free Filter Day Party the same day at 4:20 pm in the Cedar Street Courtyard.


drowned in sound album review...

At the start of the previous decade, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were being lauded as the rock'n'roll outfit to carry the torch into the post-millennial abyss and beyond. At the very least, their mysterious demeanour and dark musings made them a darn sight more interesting than the other musicians of the day, be that the big-shorted, loud of mouth brigade spearheaded by Limp Bizkit, or the Britpop hangover led by dullards such as Travis. As happens all too often though, the love affair ended almost as briefly as it had begun, largely orchestrated by less than captivating live shows and in the case of their third album Howl, a seemingly insatiable desire to commit career suicide.

Over the course of the nine years that have elapsed since debut record B.R.M.C. announced their intentions, it's been pretty much a case of indifference greeting each subsequent release, gradually pushing them into their own cosy fan-encrusted niche without ever realising the potential or expectations set from the outset. Not that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have had an unscathed journey along the way; the much-publicised traumas - drug related or other - involving original drummer Nick Jago often grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons, eventually culminating in his permanent departure shortly before the arrival of studio album number five, 2008's The Effects Of 333. A change of drummer wasn't the only notable difference on that record, as its entirely instrumental collection signalled a more complex desire to take a step back in time, even if that meant its musical constitution bore more resemblance to pastures old such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It also heralded the addition of a new drummer, one-time Raveonette Leah Shapiro, and with it possibly a re-configured, and more juxtaposed, infinitely focused line-up for their next studio venture.

Nearly 18 months on and we've arrived at that junction, Beat The Devil's Tattoo, and while there will be an element whose customary greeting of "Meh" at the thought of yet another Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album, this record should be heard first before any such thoughts are dispatched publicly. This, you see, is the record messrs Hayes and Levon Been have been threatening to make since the band's formation. If anything, Beat The Devil's Tattoo feels like a carefully constructed amalgam of the best parts of all its predecessors where the emphasis may not always be on the songs themselves, but whereas their earlier records felt like rollercoaster rides of the sublime, ridiculous and occasionally careless, this has a seamless flow that is only minimally disrupted in its final third. What's more, while the inimitable vocal stylings of both Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been make Beat The Devil's Tattoo instantly recognisable as being by its creators, those lazy comparisons with a certain Scottish combo of the late Eighties can be consigned once and for all into the trashcan, as this is undoubtedly the definitive sound of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and no one else.

As with Baby 81 and to a lesser extent Take Them On, On Your Own, the decision to release one of the record's weaker moments, its title track, as a lead single could once again be seen as the musical equivalent of a Jamie Carragher backpass beyond an unsighted Pepe Reina. While its East European folk influence may just push it on to the odd daytime playlist or two - think Gogol Bordello stripped down to the bone jamming with I Am Kloot or someone of a similar ilk - it doesn't even attempt to tell a quarter of the story that is Beat The Devil's Tattoo the collection. However, as a way of easing the most casual of listeners into what follows it serves its purpose satisfactorily.

With that out of the way, the floodgates open on 'Conscience Killer' and 'Bad Blood', two of the album's stand-out pieces and both up there with the band's best recordings, period. The former's full throttle surge, Hayes in fine voice with the cutting riposte "We don't mean all that much, but we never really had a choice" dictating the pace, and possibly offering an insight into the it's-now-or-never approach to the record, leading into the reverb-heavy intro of the latter. "Nothing ever stays the same" sings Hayes, and he's right. If anything they're exercising their demon(s) here, the song obviously a reference to their departed former member, a final parting shot of "I can see it in your eyes and now it's gone" telling its own story. Both of these songs pretty much usurp anything on their previous four albums.

However, it's not just about foot-to-the-floor rock and roll. The industrial blues of 'War Machine' coupled with the mellow acoustics of 'Sweet Feeling's Gone', a close cousin of their most recent recording prior to Beat The Devil's Tattoo, 'Done All Wrong' off the 'Twilight: New Moon' soundtrack suggests they've been revisiting their own archives comprehensively, its similarity to the much-maligned Howl notable by way of its inclusion. Indeed one gets the impression that while Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are undeniably proud of their achievements to date, they've seen this as being their last chance to make that perfect record, so upped the ante accordingly. 'Evol', the album's mid-point, is actually pretty old, having initially been written and demoed for inclusion on 2003's Take Them On, On Your Own before being dropped at the last minute. Now, with Shapiro's lean, colossal backbeat providing its engine, they've rediscovered a slow building gem that beggars the question why it was left in hibernation for so long.

Her contribution is none more apparent than on 'River Styx', a percussion-heavy blues number that borrows the riff from Canned Heat's 'On The Road Again' and turns it into a swamp-infested jam of brutal intensity. Similarly 'Aya', another attempt at industrial noise a la Ulterior or The Big Pink brings Shapiro's beatkeeping to the fore, even if the song itself doesn't quite live up to its audacious intent. At times, the final third of Beat The Devil's Tattoo becomes laboured, none more so than on penultimate Beatles pastiche 'Long Way Down', by far the least affective track on the album. Indeed, if it wasn't for the gargantuan might of closer 'Half-State', the record wouldn't lose any impetus had it been cut by two or three numbers.

However, the closing ten minutes easily represent Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's most vivacious and downright unconditional composition in their chequered career. Peter Hayes' glissando guitar collides with Robert Levon Been's distorted bass with effortless grace, building up slowly into a crushing mantra that decrees "We were close but never made it home" before reaching its destination amidst salient cries of "There's a place we can never call our own". Possibly the closest comparison from their back catalogue would be the effervescent 'Rifles', but even that pales alongside 'Half-State' and its overt three-part drama. Indeed, if there were ever a reason for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's existence, this would be it, and despite the false dawns of albums past, Beat The Devil's Tattoo can hold its head high as their most compulsive body of work to date.


Pitchfork album review...

As rock traditionalists go, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were a little bit ahead of their time. Sure, the California leather jacketers came up a few years after the Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre, and more or less alongside Detroit garage-rockers like the White Stripes. But 2001 debut B.R.M.C. loudly heralded the rock-is-back swagger that would soon hit glossy magazines in the form of the Strokes, the Vines, and the Hives. As if that weren't enough, BRMC's stratosphere-pummel predicted not only the Jesus and Mary Chain reunion, the Magnetic Fields' Distortion, and A Place to Bury Strangers, but also last year's Verve-scale electro-shoegaze anthems by the Big Pink.

Here in the future, though, the sneering young dudes who once asked "Whatever Happened to My Rock'n'Roll" now bear all the telltale signs of a band desperately flailing to live up to the dangerousness of their band name. In 2005, that meant divisive folk-blues change-up Howl. In 2008, it meant not-even-divisive insomniac-wank instrumental album The Effects of 333. Sixth studio outing Beat the Devil's Tattoo is already getting billed as the one that brings all these prodigal sons' (and daughters'-- ex-Raveonette Leah Shapiro is now on drums) stylistic detours back home. It kind of is, but if BRMC's sound has cohered, their songwriting has unfortunately done the opposite.

So yeah, Beat the Devil's Tattoo assembles BRMC's full arsenal of swamp-stomp riffage, chain-gang acoustic blues, rawk-Spiritualized psych-gospel, endlessly repeated gothic nonsense, and effects-geek pedal farts. And no, of course, originality isn't necessarily a prerequisite for rock'n'roll fun times. So if someone apathetically intoning about whether he wants to "feel love" on a midtempo Velvet Underground guttersnipe castoff called "Evol" (yup) is enough to make you remember that, oh my gosh, you wanna feel love, then who am I to argue? Plus BRMC can sound surprisingly pretty when finding the tear in Ryan Adams' blandly folksy beer ("The Toll", "Sweet Feeling"); in a Grand Funk/Free way, their bluesy proto-punk jams ("Conscience Killer", "Shadow's Keeper") or mythological T. Rex boogie ("River Styx") can be mookishly satisfying-- big dumb fun.

There's a fine line, however, between "big dumb fun" and "insulting your intelligence." The Ride-like whooshes of "Mama Taught Me Better" (main lyric: "It brings me down"), are one thing, but finale "Half State" stretches the 1990s neopsych pedal play to an utterly excruciating 10 minutes. Witchy-woman screamer "Aya" and vaguely political lurcher "War Machine" feel like they were probably already somewhere in this band's catalog. And there's little fun for anyone, dumb or otherwise, on piano-pop comedown "Long Way Down". Besides, BRMC already had a release that brings together all their disparate elements: last year's solid, strobe-lit DVD/CD package Live, which actually has some memorable songs. Chalk it up to another case of being ahead of their time.
Marc Hogan, March 10, 2010


Friday, March 12, 2010

on The Daily Habit...


amoeba live streaming update...

"Regretfully we have to postpone our Amoeba instore today. The show @ the Echoplex is still on for tonite. Stay tuned for rescheduled instore"

i've just received e-mail from regarding the group performance streaming LIVE tomorrow
stay tunned and don't miss it, details below...

0 comments: on BRMC...

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club returns with new energy

Los Angeles-based rock group Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will play
 at the San Diego House of Blues on March 13, 2010.
Courtesy of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

In June 2008, the drummer for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nick Jago, left in the middle of an international tour. The other two members — Robert Levon Been and Peter Hayes — played the remaining shows after picking up The Raveonettes’ touring drummer Leah Shapiro.

“The truth is that I was scared out of my mind,” Been said. “We dodged a bullet and were able to finish the tour.”

Shapiro filled in well, but it was still unclear if they had the right chemistry to write music together. The trio flew to Philadelphia and recorded in the same place where BRMC crafted its biggest success, 2005’s “Howl.” The result was “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo,” (released March 8) mixing stripped-down sounds of “Howl” with the raw, electric garage rock of 2007’s “Baby 81.”

“Leah kept us going — it gave us a new energy to make a whole album with her from the ground up,” Been said. “There was no Plan B. We didn’t know any other drummers.”

Jago was not enjoying playing with the band anymore, and had already left the group once before, in 2004, after an argument. Been admits that the tension within the group not only made life more stressful, but also harmed the music.

“I was devastated by the way things went down with Nick,” Been said. “I didn’t have heart to start rehearsing people. We felt kind of defeated ... it was like breaking up with someone and you don’t want to start dating again. You want to be alone for the next 5 years. Things have been effortless with Leah, any other way it wouldn’t have worked.”

Shapiro infused new energy into the band during the sessions for “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”, and Been and Hayes fed off her passion and professionalism. In some cases, she even helped the band re-imagine old tunes written long before she joined.

“We were doing the song River Styx on the last tour.” Been offered as an example. “Then Leah came up with a new beat, a loungie, weird, voodoo sex beat that we all kind of made fun of. None of us was getting laid that month, and I think that’s where that rhythm came from. You make much better music when you aren’t getting any. But we used that beat on the album version.”

While Shapiro helped the Los Angeles-based group enjoy making music again, the band has also taken other steps to insure that their energy is focused on crafting songs and performing, not other aspects of the music business. After being dropped by their first major label, Virgin Records, in 2004, the band signed with RCA. After that relationship failed to work out as well, the band decided to form its own label “Abstract Dragon” and distribute their own albums with assistance from Vagrant Records.

“We were just tired of being broke and in debt to major labels,” Been said. “So we decided to go with the do-it-yourself label and partnering with Vagrant. They are just really cool people who are not trying to force us to be someone else, and aren’t spending money frivolously where it doesn’t matter.”

The first album released on the label was an all instrumental, experimental album titled “The Effects of 333” with proceeds going to benefit Riders for Health, and aid organization that seeks to provide transportation for the poor living in isolated areas so they can receive medical care and other services.

“We wanted to do something for no commercial reason,” Been said about “333”. “I don’t know if I can call it an album. It’s not a piece of art, it’s a creation. There’s no specific reason other than that what’s we felt like doing at the time. It sucks that you have to explain yourself so much when you want to do those things.”

“Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” was the first traditional album put out on the new label. As the band gathered on Thanksgiving Day 2008 in the Philadelphia house where the band Ty Cobb offered to let them sleep and rehearse, Been was nervous. During the first session after turkey dinner they were still feeling each other out.

"It’s one thing to play the parts someone else wrote and another thing to be fully part of the band," Been said. "It was our first time ever writing without Nick in the band. It was an important component because we write so many songs as free form jams, someone starts and the rest of the song is written in the moment. That’s how some of the best BRMC songs come. It was important that we could still keep that feeling in the albums ... Me and Peter didn’t expect that to come so naturally with Leah, but it did."

The new drummer even provided the inspiration for the album’s title, which is lifted from an Edgar Allan Poe book that Shapiro gave Been while they were recording.

“It is one of my favorite albums,” Been said. “It sounds free, and we stood out of the way and let it be.”

0 comments: with robert...

It's been over ten years since Black Rebel Motorcycle Club exploded out of California with their brand of bluesy rock wrapped up in black leather swagger. Aptly named for Marlon Brando's gang in the movie, The Wild One, BRMC is still trying to figure out how they fit into the whole music biz. They've seen new labels, new records, new tours, and new drummers, and maybe, just maybe, have finally figured out a way to tame the beast. We caught up with bassist, Robert Levon Been, the weekend before their sixth album, Beat The Devil's Tattoo, dropped. We talked about the state of the music industry, BRMC's new drummer Leah Shapiro, and why we don't appreciate things that come to us easily. Here is some of what was said.

When did you first pick up an instrument?
Jesus... I think I had a little guitar when I was five or six, but I didn't have any interest in playing it at all. It just sat there and collected dust. Then in fifth grade, I put this band together with friends. I think we were God awful. My dad told me later that he'd listen to us play and thought some of the kids were all right, but he told my mother, "You don't have to worry your son following in my footsteps. He doesn't have it. He doesn't have the basic ability to follow music."

Wow, that's harsh.
Yeah, well it was true at the time. Something changed somewhere around junior high school. I started playing the trombone and learned how to read bass clefs. It took about a year, I guess, before something switched in my brain and I began to follow music. I began to see things that were a little more abstract. I don't think I realized that anything had clicked, yet though. Then in high school I picked up the bass in order to play with my friends in the battle of the bands and just kept on playing.

How come? It probably attracted more girls than the trombone.
(laughs) I really didn't think it was cool. I thought it would be easy. There are less strings than a guitar for one thing. Honestly though, if it had been difficult, I would have quit within a couple days. I'm not that dedicated to anything. I'm easily discouraged. You could never write a story about my life about how I overcame the odds. For some reason there seems to be more pride in stuff you worked really hard at, but sucked at then things that came easy. There seems to be more honor in it. It's really a shame the things your naturally good are things you don't appreciate as much. I feel really spoiled that they bass comes really easy.

Are there instruments that you aren't good at that you appreciate more?

Oh yeah! I don't play the piano well. I work my ass off practicing that thing. I love that instrument, but I can barely play it. With this band being a three piece, though we all have to pull our weight on whatever we're good at. Whether it's the guitar or songwriting or whatever. You know we were auditioning singers when we originally started?

BRMC2-TessaAngus.jpgBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club I Photo by Tessa Angus  

No, I didn't. What happened?
It was so horrendous that we decided just do it ourselves. By the end of the auditions we just thought, "Fuck it. At least it won't be as bad as that." But Peter and I aren't strong singers, so we had to share the responsibility. Just to balance it out. There's no way one of us could have sung the whole set. We just didn't have it. That's the way we started any way, and it's something that we've had to work hard at.

What is your writing process like?

Writing lyrics and things have also been things that we've had to work at. It's really easy to get writer's block and lose your mind. The trick to getting around it is to think of it as "Okay, this is the way I'm paying for the things that come easy to me." Otherwise it would be so easy to be disheartened. You know our brains are too small to understand the balance of the universe. It's like a mouse trying to understand algebra. They're not concerned with numbers they're just thankful for the cheese they ate today. We're like that. We can't understand the tsunamis, disasters and everything going on right now. Some people think that they've showed up because of the sins they've committed. They think that it's some sort of judgment, which is ridiculous. It's so self centered to think that the world is going to end just because you fucked someone's girl. We make all these elaborate story lines in our head, but honestly we're all just trying to get the cheese at this point.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have been together for over ten years now. Are there any words of advice that you would give yourself from ten years ago if you could?
Get out! Get out now! Go back to school. (laughs) Not really. I was really lucky that I didn't start playing music just because I wanted to get laid or do drugs and get away with it. I fell in love with music. Everything that came after that has been mostly a nice surprise. Friends of mine that were in bands when we were starting off who were in it for other reasons didn't do as well. You should never get into music if you think you're going to make a lot of money. You're going to be really disappointed. I've already resolved myself to that fact. Especially not now. You might have been able to before when the record industry existed. Although the time we're in now is kinda cool. It's like a weeding out of the herd. The only one's who will be left are the ones who really love it.

Why did you choose Philadelphia to write this album? Is it a particularly inspirational spot?
(Laughs) We went to Philly because we didn't have any money! We needed a place to live and one of our friends let us live at their house and write the album. They had two bedrooms and a couch that no one was living on. So they let us hang out as long as we wanted and rehearse there and record there. We spent six months in the basement. It was surreal to be part of their family for awhile, but it was great. Then we went back to LA and couch surfed while we finished the album.

Seriously? You guys couch surfed?
Yeah, people are usually surprised that we have as little money as we do. The last couple of records we had to make all of our money on tour. Everything we made we put back into the band, so we spent everything. We're big believers in giving back. We just take all the money we make and put it back into the music. So when we come off the road, we scramble to figure out how to live in the meantime. This time was cool though. We've got a new plan.

BRMC3.jpgBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club I Photo by Tessa Angus

What's the plan?
We're not taking an advance from a record company. We made a record for zero dollars, so we're zero in debt right now. Even if we make a small amount from the tour, that would be huge. I mean I might actually come home with five bucks in my pocket!

Well you've sold out the Echoplex for three nights, so that should work in your favor.
Yeah we're playing smaller venues on this tour. We want to keep it small for the first introductions to these songs. We could have played the Nokia downtown to make some more dough, but we want to keep the first tour intimate. I think our band translates the best in a small club, and that's what it's about. We might come back around, later in the year and play a bigger venue. We've been really lucky. We've got a great fan base. It really feels great playing anywhere. And if this plan works, I'm going to brag about it to everybody. I'll be like, "Listen this might be a formula that works! You could actually make it home with a couple dollars."

Do you and Peter ever fight about who sings what?

No, no. It's a cool balance. Me and Peter have never fought about anything too important. I guess whoever had the idea first is the one who gets to sing the song. Most of our best songs come from the three of us in a room jamming. Someone will start with a guitar line or drum beat and we'll jam it out and it'll just be done. Before you have a chance to think about it, it'll be out there There's a lot of healthy competition to come up with that first idea, but the way a song ends is always a surprise. Songs are like a cliff hanger endings when you don't come up with them. It's like when you try and scare yourself to get rid of the hiccups. You can't just do it. It doesn't work. You need someone else. That's the magic part of being in a band. You need everyone to create a song.

Do you still get nervous before an album comes out?
Yeah, I do, but it's the good kind of nervous, like pins and needles. I'm pretty happy with it. We worked on it for a full year.

How did you end up getting together with Leah Shapiro? Did you audition other drummers or did you know you wanted her?

No, we knew we wanted Leah from the beginning. Having a good drummer is crucial. There is so much nonverbal communication that happens with drummers. Most of the work is instinct and about that person's own sensibilities. They have to just know when they're supposed to fall back and when they're supposed to get excited and break through. You really can't teach that to someone. Nick was really great at that. We were actually nervous that it wasn't going to be the same kind of thing with Leah. But she's amazing. I've got only great things to say about both of them. It's very rare trait to have.

How did you find her?
She played for a band that supported us on tour. She's just hypnotic to watch on the drums. It certainly left an impression. After Nick left she was the only person we were going to call. We didn't have a plan B. We weren't going to audition other drummers. There was no way we were going to sit through some awful pop idol auditions. So when she started we were actually worried that her style would turn us into another band. We actually considered changing the name of the band if that happened, but it turned out that she made us sound so much like our early stuff, that we thought we'd get more shit if we called it something else.

What made you guys decide to form Abstract Dragon Records?

We first started it because we thought it would be a cool idea. We could help other bands out and have interns and things. Then the record industry changed and it turned from this luxurious idea to a necessity. It became a life raft to get our music heard. All of the labels now don't know what they're doing. They're all guessing about what would work and what doesn't. We just wanted a label that won't give up on their idea half way through the album cycle. That's what happened to us. We would get dropped and then have to make our way back home from half way across the world. Having our own record label is more gratifying because you own everything about the process and you're more part of it. (laughs) It's almost like the honor as a samurai, you know? Sticking a sword in my own stomach rather than having someone else do it.

But you're partnered with Vagrant Records right?
Yeah we have a partnership with them to distribute it and get it out. They've been really good. This process just feels way more right. It's nice to not owe a large chunk of money early on and be grossly into debt.

Are you going to sign other bands to it eventually?
(laughs) No! First we're going to try not to drown. First we're going to try and get up on the raft and make a sail. Maybe we'll start looking good to someone else, but if they joined us then we'd probably just end up cannibalizing them. So I wouldn't invite anyone in for awhile. Maybe later when we're a little more nourished.

Sounds fair. Okay last question, if you were booking a show in Heaven and a show in Hell, who would you have headline?
We'd be headlining in Heaven!

You would?
Oh no doubt, man. And I think...Hendrix would be our opener.

Really? You want to play after Jimi Hendrix?
Well, I mean it's Heaven, so everyone will love us just as much as him. Although it would really suck if he had a double encore...hmm...especially if that pushed us back and fucked us. I guess that would be the Hell version of this dream. That would be what happened in hell. We'd get bumped.

Being bumped for Jimi Hendrix isn't that bad. If you were bumped for Miley Cyrus though...
Good point! If we were bumped for someone like Toto or Rico Suave, that would be pretty heartbreaking.

Well thank you so much for talking with us.

Thank you. It's been one of the weirdest interviews I've had in awhile.

You're welcome.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

live streaming tomorrow !

i've just received e-mail from regarding the group performance streaming LIVE tomorrow
stay tunned and don't miss it, details below...


Uwolnij Muzyke new album review

here is the polish, great review by one of the most intensive BRMC fan and creator -  sune_rose

BRMC to dziwny przykład zespołu, który nie powala techniką grania, jednak zadziwia pewnym intuicyjnym podejściem do muzyki. Nowa pozycja BRMC, powstała w undergroundowych warunkach mroźnej Filadelfii, wprawdzie nie zaskakuje niczym nowym, jednak pozwala ponownie poczuć emocje, które towarzyszyły przy pojawieniu się ich debiutanckiej płyty. 

Muzycy wraz ze swoim wejściem na scenę w 2001 roku, zostali szybko nazwani następcami braci Reid z The Jesus and Mary Chain. Podejrzewam, że stało się tak tylko z uwagi na nieco podobny image - w skład którego wchodzą czarne skóry i nieokiełznane fryzury. Tak naprawdę muzycznie BRMC to nieco inny świat. Na szczęście krytyka podąża swoją drogą a muzyka swoją. Zespół szybko udowodnił, że stać ich na dużo więcej niż mogłaby zaoferować ciasna shoegaze’owa stylistyka. Począwszy od pierwszego albumu BRMC zabierają słuchacza w osobistą podróż przez wyciszone akustyczne numery, psychodeliczne trans i ściany dźwięku po prawdziwe rock’n'rollowe hymny. Dodatkowym atutem zespołu były i są nadal koncerty, które począwszy od ich pierwszej skromnej trasy z Dandy Warhols w 2000 roku, po ostatnie kilkumiesięczne światowe tourne są ich wizytówką.

Kamieniem milowym w karierze zespołu okazał się wydany w 2005 roku album “Howl”, który powstał po odejściu (pierwszym i nie ostatnim) perkusisty Nicka Jago. Muzycy, mając dodatkowo na karku problemy z wytwórnią płytową, bliscy byli rozwiązania zespołu. Peter Hayes oraz Robert Leavon Been postawili wszystko na jedną kartę. Spakowali sprzęt i wyruszyli do Filadelfii, by w piwnicy swoich znajomych z zespołu The Cobbs zarejestrować materiał na trzecią płytę. Płytę, która, jak to się później okazało, ukazywała zespół z zupełnie nowej strony. Nie bez powodu wstępnie miała być zatytułowana “Americana”. Zespół sięgając do korzeniu folku oraz bluesa, zarejestrował bogaty materiał, który w pierwszych odsłuchach głęboko podzielił fanów. Jedni zarzucali grupie porzucenie mocnych rock’n'rollowych riffów na rzecz dźwięków pianina, gitary akustycznej i harmonijki, drudzy docenili postawienie na artystyczną niezależność. Na szczęście płyta przetrwała próbę czasu i z dzisiejszej perspektywy jest świetnym przykładem twórczego wykorzystania na pozór wysłużonych możliwości wzorców. W rzeczywistości “Howl” to płyta na której zespół nie odszedł aż tak daleko od swojego początkowego brzmienia. Przecież u podstawy takich utworów jak “Love Burns”, “Too Real” czy “Generation” tkwi szkielet wymyślony gdzieś w przydrożnym motelu na kilku prostych chwytach. Zatem powrót do korzeni amerykańskiego folku był jednocześnie powrotem do pewnych podstawowych elementów własnego stylu. Na zakończenie sesji nagraniowej w szeregi zespołu powrócił Jago, który zagrał na bębnach w utworze “Promise”.

Płyta została ciepło przyjęta. Na kolejnym albumie “Baby 81″ zespół próbował połączyć mocniejsze brzmienie znane z wcześniejszych płyt, z akustycznym obliczem “Howl”. Płyta zawierała sporo dobrych momentów, jak monumentalne “American X” czy dzikie “Took Out The Loan”. Zespół zdołał zgromadzić wokół siebie sporą grupę oddanych fanów i mimo braku większej promocji krążek sprzedawał się całkiem nieźle. Muzycy wyruszyli w trwającą blisko dwa lata trasę, której zwieńczeniem był wydany w ubiegłym roku zestaw DVD. W międzyczasie ukazał się także eksperymentalny krążek z muzyką, którą zespół skomponował w trakcie trasy koncertowej. “The Effects of 333″ to niezobowiązujący materiał ulokowany na styku ambientu i mrocznego bluesa. Płyta była ostatnim przystankiem przed rozpoczęciem prac nad nowym materiałem.

Koniec końców z zespołem na stałe pożegnał się perkusista Nick Jago, który poświęcił się swojej solowej działalności. Jego miejsce zajęła Leah Shapiro, która wcześniej wspomagała na scenie The Raveonettes. W takim oto składzie zespół powrócił do studia braci Cobbs w Filadelfii - w to samo miejsce gdzie 4 lata wcześniej powstał “Howl”. Muzycy wspominając półroczny pobyt na wschodnim wybrzeżu wyznali, że zagnały ich tam problemy finansowe(na ile prawdziwe, ciężko stwierdzić). Muzycy The Cobbs zaoferowali BRMC swoje studio oraz przestrzeń mieszkalną, więc trudno było odrzucić taką przyjacielską ofertę. Jak zdradzał w późniejszych wywiadach Robert Been, basista i wokalista zespołu, “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” powstawał w trakcie najgorszej zimy jaka nawiedziła tamte rejony. Płyta miała odzwierciedlać mroźny, ponury klimat wielkiego miasta. Po przeszło rocznej przerwie, w trakcie której szlifowano materiał ostateczną premierę ustalono na 8 marca.

Nazwa albumu została zainspirowana opowiadaniem Edgara Allana Poe “The Devil in the Belfry”. To jednak nie jedyny element nawiązujący do twórczości amerykańskiego romantyka. Zespół wykorzystał do jednego z utworów tekst jego wiersza “Annabel Lee”. Czego można było spodziewać się po “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo”? Zespół pracując nad nowym materiałem praktycznie nie koncertował, nie dawał żadnych poszlak do tego jaki obierze kierunek na nowej płycie. Na trasie poprzedzającej wejście do studia pojawiło się kilka obiecujących akustycznych utworów, jednak nie były one niczym na tyle wyrazistym, by mogły zapowiadać kształt nadchodzącej płyty. Jedno było pewne - zespół na pewno nie zrezygnuje z brzmienia, które udało mu się wypracować przez kolejne albumy. Dodatkowym plusem (choć nie dla wszystkich, tutaj znowu fani podzielili zdania) było zaangażowanie w prace nad płytą Leah, która doskonale wie co robić za perkusją. Peter oraz Robert sami przyznali, że współpraca z nową perkusistką pozwoliła im spojrzeć na zespół z nieco innej perspektywy.

Po pierwszym odsłuchaniu brzmienie płyty nasuwa proste skojarzenie z brudnym, przesterowanym, lekko psychodelicznym kształtem dwóch pierwszych albumów - z większym naciskiem na drugi krążek “Take Them On, On Your Own”. Jest to bez wątpienia duża odmiana w stosunku do wygładzonego i nieco ubogim brzmieniu “Baby 81″, na którym zabrakło charakterystycznego dla BRMC lekkiego muzycznego nieładu. To co można zarzucić tej płycie, a co było świetnie widoczne na “TTO,OYO”, to słabe zróżnicowanie samych utworów. “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” składa się w większości z utworów mocnych, gitarowych, wyraźnie rock’n'rollowych. Oczywiście grupie zdarzają się dwa (bardzo piękne) utwory akustyczne (”The Toll”, “Sweet Felling”) oraz jeden odegrany na pianie (Czyżby nowa tradycja? Od albumu “Howl” muzycy konsekwentnie umieszczają na płytach jeden utwór zaaranżowany na czarne i białe klawisze), nie ma tutaj jednak miejsca na utwory zaskakujące, eksperymentalne czy zróżnicowane brzmieniowo. Na “TTO,OYO” praktycznie każda piosenka była z nieco innej bajki. Wystarczy wspomnieć takie utwory jak “Ha Ha High Babe”, “Shade of Blue” czy US Government”, które reprezentowały zupełnie odmienne stylistyki. Jako całość brzmiały kompletnie. Na “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” podobnego zróżnicowania brak, co jednocześnie nie oznacza, że płytę należy spisać na straty.

Przede wszystkim muzyków należy pochwalić za powrót do chropowatego brzmienia, które nadaje ich rock’n'rollowym riffom specjalnego, niepowtarzalnego charakteru. Dodatkowo muzycy odświeżyli kilka (bardzo) starych utworów, które znane były do tej pory z nieoficjalnych nagrań. Mówię tutaj przede wszystkim o świetnym “Evol”, który pojawił się przeszło 10 lat temu na pierwszym demo zespołu. Utwór nie zmienił się zbytnio w stosunku do pierwowzoru, niemniej dobrze usłyszeć go w pełnej studyjnej wersji. Takich transowo-rock’n'rollowych utworów zespołowi ostatnimi czasy brakowało najbardziej. Nieco podobnie brzmi “River Styx”, który nasuwa pewne skojarzenia z “Personal Jesus”. Gdzieś w tym przedziale lokuje się także “Bad Blood”, który skłania się trochę ku bardziej melodyjnemu rock’n'rollowemu brzmieniu spod znaku Oasis.

To psychodeliczne zacięcię będzie obecne w większości utworów na płycie. Także w solidnych kompozycjach opartych na wyrazistym riffie. Tutaj warto docenić przede wszystkim “Conscience Killer”, który byłby murowanym singlem no1. Niestety uprzedził go nieco mniej charakterystyczny utwór tytułowy.  Nie wiem dlaczego, ale od czasu “Baby 81″ zespół ma drobne problemy z wytypowaniem właściwego utworu na pierwszy singiel. “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” rzeczywiście świetnie nadaje się na numer otwierający płytę, jednak nie należy do najbardziej reprezentatywnych. Przynosi pewne skojarzenia z “Howl” a także “chóralnym” stylem zespołu Kasabian. Wspomniany “Conscience Killer” będzie jak podejrzewam murowanym killerem koncertowym. Podobnie jak “Shadow’s Keeper” oraz “Mama Taught Me Better” które spełniają wymogi poprawnych, nie wyróżniających się niczym ponadprzeciętnym wypełniaczy.

Apogeum przesterowanego grania słychać w powolnych “Aya” oraz “War Machine”. Oba utwory wypadają całkiem nieźle. Na drugim biegunie słychać wspomniane “Sweet Feeling” oraz  “The Toll”. W obu utworach autorstwa Petera Hayesa słychać nawiązanie do klasycznego folku z lat 50. Oba bardzo udane, zwłaszcza drugi z wymienionych utworów, który powala przy refrenie. “Long Way Down” to zachodząca pod Johna Lennona propozycja autorstwa Roberta Beena, który słynie ze swojego zamiłowania do prostych klawiszowych utworów. Tym razem wyszło mu znacznie lepiej niż przy okazji utworu “Windows” znanego z “Baby 81″. Album zamyka 10-minutowa transowa kompozycja “Half-State”, która ma w sobie coś z nieokiełznanych utworów autorstwa The Doors, Love czy 13th Floor Elevators.

Nowa płyta BRMC ma większe szanse zaistnieć szerzej niż jej poprzedniczka “Baby 81″. Grupa sięgnęła do swoich korzeni dzięki czemu otrzymaliśmy album pełen szczerych dźwięków. Oddani fani na pewno będą zadowoleni, z kolei nowi będą mieli okazję poznać zespół od ich najlepszej strony.

Marcin Bieniek