As Yet Untitled

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cascadia Weekly - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Like street toughs with hearts of gold, the men of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are torn between heaven and hell. Taking their image and name from 1953 film The Wild One, the band also adopts leading man Brando's seething emotional turns and Dionysian excesses. If this all sounds like it's too much, simply know that BRMC play rock the way it was meant to be played: loud, dark, and honest.


More after the jump.


At 10:11 AM, Blogger Tyson said...

Although it was over a decade ago when bassist Robert Been met guitarist Peter Hayes in high school, it took three years before BRMC came together over the pair's mutual admiration for My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and The Stone Roses. After recruiting drummer Nick Jago from an English art school, the band began a non-stop tour of the
states. Within a year, the trio had recorded a 16-track demo that garnered them significant notice on California's KCRW and England's BBC, culminating in a Record of the Week win from the Beeb.

In the ensuing publicity wave, the band fielded several offers, including one from Oasis' Noel Gallagher, before finally signing with Virgin Records. A celebratory short tour with the Dandy Warhols followed before the band sequestered themselves in the studio to
record their major label debut.

As their self-titled release slid into stores in 2001, the band quickly returned to their grueling cross-country touring. During the next two years, BRMC played over 300 half-lit venues while writing the follow-up to their increasingly successful debut.

When Take Them On, On Your Own dropped in 2003, it featured a slick new sound for the band's fevered energy—stronger, angrier lyrics and more accessible arrangements. Reviews were positive, but relations between the band and Virgin were oddly strained.

Eventually Virgin pulled all support for the album, even as BRMC continued to tour, and the resulting lack of sales, although never specifically cited, eventually led to the dissolution of the band's contract. Label-less, the band's progress gradually slowed, eventually stopping when Jago quit and returned to England.

Fortunately, RCA stepped up almost immediately to sign the band and ultimately release 2005's Howl. Eschewing the opportunity to slap back at Virgin, BRMC, with Jago back behind the skins, chose to upend their sound again, this time trading in their electric guitars for acoustics, shoegaze for blues, and colder compositions for a warm tribute to the founding duo's hometown.

Inviting comparisons to the Beat Poets who called San Francisco home, the album relies on acoustic arrangements that recall gospel-tinged Appalachia and soft Dylan-esque folk. Swathed in dark leather and sullen, whiskey soaked riffs, their blackened and impassioned take on Americana is difficult to ignore and harder to forget.

Live, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club still have something to prove, playing each song as though it might be the last time they have the chance, singing each lyric as an indictment, and wrapping each show in BRMC's furious talent. "What are you rebelling against?" you might ask. "Whatta you got?" Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will answer.


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