Music » Livewire

The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Tuesday, May 8, at the Grog Shop.


Taking your band's name from a Marlon Brando flick is a debatably hip move. But taking your sound from the dark shadows of Love and Rockets and peppering it all up with nods to a host of glam/goth despots, ranging from Marc Bolan to the Jesus and Mary Chain, is a far more capital idea these days. Particularly when you dispense with the more artsy pretensions of those acts and feed off of the seedy proto-punk noise that seeped out of Detroit in the late '60s and early '70s. The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club roars out of San Francisco with a savvy racket on its self-titled debut and does an admirable job updating all of its fairly obvious influences. Alternating rave-ups with ambient mood pieces, high-strung clamor with acoustic dreaminess, and nightmares with ecstasy-fueled daydreams, the Black Rebels ambitiously weave their way through a guitar-laced set of tunes that are surprisingly groove-heavy. The locomotive rhythms of "Love Burns" hurl the record forward at the outset with an acoustic guitar that struggles against a jarring kick-bass backbeat. BRMC never lets up, drenching subsequent songs in echoing vocals and the constantly jabbing, wah-wahing, and buzzing guitars that find their marks. But the band is at its best when asking the eternal rhetorical question: "Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll"? "Whatever" lays down what turns out to be both the essential BRMC groove and its lustrous manifesto: "I fell in love with a sweet sensation/I gave my heart to a simple chord/I gave my soul to a new religion/Whatever happened to my rock 'n' roll?" Sounds corny, but under this anvil of gloomy glam guitar fury, BRMC slays any cynicism with a preternatural conviction that reminds you why the question ever needed to be asked in the first place.

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