Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Beat the Devil's Tatoo (Abstract Dragon)

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Mama Taught Me Better
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Beat the Devil's Tatoo (Abstract Dragon)

When I saw the BRMC in their early days at the Troubadour in LA I came away convinced they were, if not the future of rock'n'roll, then they would have at least a lot of interesting noises to make until the future arrived.

They roared and rocked, swapped instruments, played psychedelicised rock'n'roll with references to a few other marginal styles and . . .

I fell for them.

Ours has been a rocky relationship since then however and I never felt they captured on album the magic of that night where they played to no more than maybe 100 people who air-punched and surged forward.

I quite liked parts of '05's Howl and while there are powerful and raunchy psychedelic rock manoeuvres here on their fifth album (the Exile on Main Street turned up to 11 swagger of Conscience Killer, the slewing Oasis-like Anglo-drone of Bad Blood which follows) much of this treads such a familiar path (Jesus and Mary Chain through grunge) that it ultimately fails to really connect.

You can't argue with the noisecore attack of War Machine (it would be pointless, no one could hear you) or the broad sonic landscape of Evol.

But the acoustic Sweet Feeling and The Toll add noting to what they have done previously and the prevailing mood of gloom (the title comes from an Edgar Allen Poe story) becomes a little relentless -- although the favourable reference point of Sonic Youth doing Black Sabbath doesn't seem amiss on Mama Taught Me Better.

Overlong at 13 tracks -- but the final Americana piano ballad Long Way Down and the 10 minute Half State are worth cutting straight to around the halfway mark. 

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