Let’s address the elephant in the room, the New Blues Revolution’s sound is reminiscent of The Doors. Not the slick, heavily produced Doors, but the down and dirty pre Whiskey A Go-Go Doors when they were playing for five hours a night in dive bars while looking for their sound.
These guys are raw, and since they use the more traditional guitar-bass-drum-vocal arrangement as opposed to the Doors’ guitar-keyboard-drums-vocal set up, there are major differences. But still, vocalist Bill Grisolia shares certain qualities with Jim Morrison and he is paired with several good musicians including Chap Cooper on guitar; Roger Beall on drums; and Bob Burns on bass.
They play like they are in a crowded bar on the Texas Mexico border, or perhaps like they belong on a Quentin Tarrantino soundtrack, but these guys have style. A dark style that pulls you in to a different world altogether.
This is not your daddy’s blues and it certainly isn’t your granddaddy’s blues, but it’s blues with a post punk attitude. And as much as I liked this EP (only five songs on TO HELLENDALE AND BACK), I’m left wondering, can they sustain the mood over a full album or even more?
The world of music is populated by scores of bands that came out of nowhere with a flash of lightning only to disappear just as quickly. While they have released a previous album, unfortunately I have yet to hear it, so I can’t tell how it sounds or how the band has grown.
I can tell you that this is an exciting find and I will definitely be watching them in the future to see how they grow. The combination of Grisolia and Cooper is exciting to listen to – and I can only imagine how they would be live. There are several videos available on their website: http://www.newbluesrevolution.com/ which also has more information about their upcoming appearances.
Souls On Fire kicks off the album with a nice drum cadence leading into the murky dark guitar and Grisolia’s growling vocals. The lyrics are challenging – not the kind of “my girl did me wrong” lyrics, but the kind that struggle with much deeper implications. Cooper’s guitars add menace and Beall’s drums keep a steady beat that lures you in.
Whiskey Town takes a different approach, but still uses a slow steady rhythm to pull you into the song and possibly the bottle at the same time. Grisolia’s vocals are really reminiscent of Morrison on this song, and are just as hypnotic. This is more trance than blues in its approach, but as far as attitude is concerned, it’s the depth of the blues. Amazing song.
They pick up the tempo a bit with Black Widow without losing any of their bite. The New Blues Revolution has some of the cleverest lyrics I’ve heard it a long time. They have a fresh approach and as I’ve said, they are not for the blues purists, but if you’re looking for a band that rocks their blues, this is the group for you.
Baby Blue starts off with a little surf rock beat with a border town shuffle. Grisolia is not only a master of the growl, but he can croon with the best of them. When he puts the two together he creates a wild sound that gets under your skin.
The EP ends with an instrumental, Sunset Psycho Twang, which reminds me somewhat of a reworking of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross. The song is evocative and subtle. So much of what New Blues Revolution has done on the album falls under the darker side, that it’s refreshing to hear a song that is on the other side of the spectrum.
I mentioned earlier that I had not heard their first CD at this point, but as I write this review, the band has been gracious enough to send me a copy. So, I will get this review posted and hopefully in a few days get a chance to listen to their earlier work and post a review of that.
In the meantime, if you feel so inclined, head over to their website that check out their samples and buy an album or two. Be adventurous.