Voice of Treason
If you haven’t got the patience to wait for the next White Stripes album, check out Voice of Treason by Soledad Brothers. Citing some of the same blues and rock influences as the more famous Detroit band, Soledad Brothers sound like a jam session between Mick Jagger, John Lee Hooker and Marc Bolan. It’s raw, dirty blues with soul, R&B and rockabilly sprinkled in.
The influences don’t stop there. “Ain’t It Funny,” with its organ intro, would have fit right in on The Doors’ debut. “Lay Down This World” is a gospel cover complete with handclaps. These guys are nothing if not versatile, but through the various changes the sound is still true.
Begun in 1998 by Johnny Walker and Ben Swank in Toledo, OH, after the breakup of their former project Henry + June, the band began to garner attention from established local acts 40 miles north in Detroit. One early fan was Jack White (to whom Walker claims to have given pointers on the slide guitar). White produced a single for the band, released by Italy Records. The band has recently hooked up with Sanctuary to release Voice of Treason (its title is inspired by the Patriot Act and its questionable infringements of civil liberties), their major label debut.
To understand a bit more the depth of Soledad Brothers, their name must be explained. The term is slang for an African-American doing time at Soledad Prison in CA. To be more specific, it refers to 3 convicted felons who were charged with killing a guard in retaliation for the murder of 3 black activists at the same prison in 1970. The story made the papers when one of the convict’s 17 yr. old brother burst into a courtroom with a machine gun and took the judge hostage, demanding “freedom for the Soledad Brothers.” The teen and the judge were killed. With such politics residing just in the band’s name, it’s no surprise that they teamed up with MC5 manager, and White Panther, John Sinclair.
Soledad Brothers carry on the revolutionary spirit of MC5, and continue a long legacy of white men who not only appreciate the blues, but do a fine job combining it with their own styles.
P.S.- 13:30 into track 13 is a secret song…
Soledad Brothers: www.soledadbrothers.com