Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Howl (RCA)

 Howl was clearly no easy ride for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The Los Angeles trio's third album's lyrics address depression, failed relationships, war and, most noticeably, spirituality. The somber tone is likely a result of BRMC's recent struggles, including a drop from their former major label Virgin and infighting that led to drummer Nick Jago temporarily leaving the band. It's been said that suffering results in the best art--imbues its creator with humanity and depth that might not have existed before--and that's the case with Howl, one of the most moving rock albums in years. BRMC (with Jago back in tow) veer from their previous loud, bluesy psychedelic rock to show folk, gospel, country and soul influences, forgoing heavily distorted guitars and feedback for strummed and fingerpicked acoustics. The result is a fuller sound, made even stronger by the occasional scorching electric blues leads on top. Singer Peter Hayes blows a mean blues harp on tunes like "Complicated Situation" and opener "Shuffle Your Feet," in which he announces, "Time won't save our souls," setting the tone for what is to come. In "Gospel Song," bassist Robert Levon Been promises, "I will walk with Jesus till I can't go anymore." This version of Jesus doesn't offer him any pat evangelical answers, but if the walk leads to more music like this, then I hope he keeps his promise.
 
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