March 17, 2010

Test Spin: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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Put down your rotten tomatoes! The latest album, Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is stunning despite their previous few lackluster releases. The San Francisco-based alternative rock band was formed in 1998 by Peter Hayes, Robert Levon Been and Nick Jago, naming their band after the hard-core motorcycle gang in Marlon Brando’s The Wild One. Drummer chick extraordinaire Leah Shapiro joined the team in 2008, when Jago left his Cali band mates — for the second time — to focus on his solo career.

BRMC wastes no time or energy with this album, recorded under their own Abstract Dragon label, which shows their talent as a band, a vivid combination of alternative, indie and garage-band rock with a hint of blues and a little folk influence. “Conscience Killer” and “Bad Blood” set up the album with engaging, powerful beats for a fun, energetic atmosphere. The band also stays true to its darker, angsty roots with “War Machine” and “Aya.” The star of the album is  “Sweet Feeling,” an achingly sweet ballad that transforms the album into something more emotional and evocative than raging mood swings.

The bands’ individual talents meld flawlessly together in their newest album. Hayes’ husky voice is hard to forget when he sings, “Will you take my hand down to the water’s edge, where every sin has been washed away.” Been captivates the audience with his haunting piano parts in “Toll” and “Long Way Down.” Shapiro puts her mark on the album with “River Styx.” It’s unnervingly reminiscent of Marilyn Manson’s “Personal Jesus,” but the powerful percussion proves her worth.

BRMC’s success in the music world thus far has been mediocre to say the least, but their newest album proves that their “trial and error” method of developing their own sounds has some worth. The band has come a long way over the past twelve years, and Beat the Devil’s Tattoo is certainly the best combination of all of their past trials.


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — “Conscience Killer”

Original Author: Heather McAdams