Friday, May 21, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Issue 185 - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - B.R.M.C (debut)

By: March

Album - B.R.M.C.
Artist - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Key Players - Peter Hayes -guitar and vocals. Robert Turner (Robert Levon Been) - bass and vocals. Nick Jago - drums.
Produced By - BRMC

Release Date - April 3, 2001

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I am sometimes unsure about doing albums that are not even 10 years old, but when it follows in to "when was the last time I really listened front to back" I am okay with it. Also, I recently saw the movie "Smokin Aces 2" (yeah I know..2?) and they used a track from this disc (Red Eyes and Tears) so I felt it was a sign.

Overview - Formed in San Francisco, California in 1998 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, or, B.R.M.C. embraced the garage rock sounds of the time and played a wild combination of shoe gaze to hard rock, sometimes in the same song. Rumored to be named for the motorcycle gang in the 1953 Marlon Brando film "The Wild One" their debut (originally self released in 1999) set a strong precedence within the new genre that was popping up on radio and although album sales would be slow, they'd gain many fans based off their live shows. Hayes had left the band "Brian Jonestown Massacre" and formed up with Been and then Jago joined the fold. They'd go on to release 7 (and counting) albums, but US popularity continues to elude them.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - "Love Burns" starts with a slow build, almost like a piano line on a loop and runs for 40 or so seconds before and acoustic guitar and percussion start the track moving. A few repeated riffs and Jago's simple back beat starts. The vocals are hushed and atmospheric, sung a little monotone until the chorus when the guitars bass and drum all join forces. A short electric guitar burst brings the verse back. The band is no stranger to distortion pedals and reverb. It really gets rolling by the second run at the chorus. "Red Eyes and Tears" is a much darker sounding track with some guitar parts chopping at you before the guitar comes up, then the now classic drum beat gets going. The verse is sung and as it comes towards a head the buzzy guitar really kicks up and loops around the listener. The guitar work is terrific and it really sets a tone for what is to come on the album. We really get "rocking" for the first time on "Whatever Happened to My Rock N' Roll". Again starting with a buzzy (bass guitar) we are counted off and the whole band hits down. The rhythm is tight and holds the rock bottom as the guitars rush over the top. The vocals and lyrics are the fastest we've heard so far. It ends if a fury of feedback before the much more calm "Awake" begins. This is a much more "clean" and melodic track from the band. The bass line is sweeping underneath the light guitar and drums. The vocals are soaked in reverb and sound haunting as the song slowly works towards the chorus. It tricks the listener with its laid back approach but gets more aggressive with the chorus. Everyone turns up and fuzzes out before returning to the earlier melody. The payoff really comes as the song begins to wind down. The music appears to be very chaotic, but really tight at the same time. The vocal part does not waiver amid all this wall of sound either. Very strong track. "White Palms" begins with the guitar and percussion before Turner runs the bass through a fuzzy amp. The vocals are a little buried in the mix on this, but that could be done on purpose. The bass seems to be the focus on this track as it is very prominent in the mix. The cymbals have a certain "splash" to them as well. Turner works the bass even more on a breakdown before the Hayes guitar runs over it with very choppy and delayed guitar riffs. Turner gets to run it again and the song starts heading towards completion. Tuner continues to shine as the intro to "As Sure as the Sun" is a solo bass riff. Accented only with the occasional guitar chime over the top for a few bars before the fullness of the band is brought in. The song doesn't hit a chord vocally with me personally but musically its a gem. Show casing each members strengths it comes back around to real strong instrumental moments. Sounds like chanting start up "Rifles" as lyrics are looped over one another, when in fact it is an interlude before the proper song begins. The bass is tight and by the time the guitar and vocals come in you are bobbing your head to the deep and dark groove that has been put forth. File this under a late night driving song. Not fast, just cruising. We do the build up to "Too Real" as well. Drums have a bit more of a "thwap" sound to them at the start, but it locks back in to a laid back feel quickly. The vocals are wavy at times, like the batteries in your player are starting to die out, its a very odd sound. We return to the formula that is most appealing on "Spread Your Love". The guitars are buzzy, the tempo tight and the vocals actually are on the upswing as well. The guitar tandem as the track progresses is very strong and Turner tosses some high bass notes. Jago never gets overly complex on this, or any other track for that matter but you can feel his attention to keeping tight time. "Head Up High" falls back to the more groove oriented feel the band can lay down from time to time. The vocals are hushed and the guitar and bass work tandem with each other. The album closes with the longest track (6:06) called "Salvation". Another track that slowly builds with a lone guitar and then some light drum work. The song continues the slow crescendo and everyone is sort of laid back with their playing. The vocals are pretty and very "breathy" which adds a great touch. It never strays from its pattern and is actually a very strong album closer.

Where are they now? - The band is still active in the studio and on the road. There have been slight line up changes. The band was dropped from Virgin records in 2004 and there had been a few years of tense relationship with Jago. Jago had been having addiction issues and the band struggled to soldier along but would release the "Howl" album with him just on one track. He'd rejoin in 2007 but by mid 2008 he had left the band (he claims he was fired, the other two say he was not and that he needed to clean up). Leah Shaprio has been the bands drummer since 2008.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Only saw the band one time and that was August 8, 2001 at the Met Cafe in Providence, Rhode Island. The crowd was very small and the band had some late set tech issues that resulted in one song going 20+ minutes in length. It was decent, but meeting the guys after the show sort of soured me. I understand everyone has their days, but it was well after the tech issues when my friends and I approached only asking to have our cds singed and they were less than friendly about it. Even with all that, I've bought all their cds, just haven't seen em live again.

FDF Overall Take - When the album first came out there were a lot of comparisons to the Jesus and Mary Chain, but this album seemed to focus more on a melody vs the distortion that JaMC were famous for. The band has some strong lyrics and talented players. I personally still find this record to be their most accessible record and it would be the first I'd recommend to a new listener.

The official band page is here and the myspace page for the band is here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3s have been removed.
Red Eyes and Tears

Tracks taken from the self titled album that you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


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