Soledad Brothers

Soledad Brothers


Dim Mak

I dearly love gritty, lo-fi recording quality that emphasizes intimacy and immediacy over sterile standards of “fidelity.” Here ’tis. And since when has the blues been about fidelity (in any sense of the word) anyway? There’s even the dull yammer of Detroit hipsters before the band strikes up and Live really kicks in, with Soledad frontman Johnny Walker providing some hipster sermonizing.

If anything, bizarrely, they may prove to know their blues pedigree TOO well. This is authentic, dirty r&b that gives no quarter to prevailing pop or even “garage rock” trends. As such, I like it, but y’know, I hate the fucking Stones so I can’t tee-otally take it into my heart. Sometimes the blues format is kinda tiresome, that’s only for me though. It was fun listening to on the interstate, and it’s way heavy maaaaan. It’s loud, so it’s cool.

What’s the “live” sound? The no-fi recording captures it perfectly. The guitar sound rules it. So thick and opaque. No bass, but there is plenty of bottom end, so it’s not all trebly-widdly. This is the part that really fucking fascinates me — there’s one guitar that’s totally standing in where the bass parts would be and it’s killer. Wall of noise without the four-string.

Opener “Stand-Up” is a reckless-driving honky-tonk mantra. “Break’Em On Down” is a total muddy rave-up, and I fucking love how one guitar does the chords and the other apes a bass guitar with these cool muffled notes. “Johnny’s Death Letter” is a disoriented crawl, slowing things way down and adding some cool atonal saxophone. Vocal fella Johnny Walker sounds way Jagger on this’un. I dig the repetition, reminds me of the Melvins fronted by Muddy Waters.

“Teenage Heart Attack” is very, let’s be charitable and say, reminiscent of the Stones circa “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” — the jagged guitar strumming is so Keith Richards and it’s got that four on the floor beat that’s fast enough to outrun the law but slow enough to not sweat all the smack out. About two minutes in, Johnny Walker lets loose with some cool screams and “yeahs!” “Up Jumped The Devil,” a hard-travelin’ spiky number, has a cool part in the middle where everything just totally falls apart into chaos and THEN comes the crazy-ass harmonica solo! “Gospel According To John” is the best song here, with some fucking evil, heavy guitar riffs where the choruses should be, clipped verses and snaky saxophone sneakin’ in between those geode-thick guitars. And there’s all this distorto noisedeathscum at the end, so we’re cool.

Dim Mak Records:

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