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« DOWNLOAD - Jim James - 2013-04-21 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, MN | Main | REVIEW - Jim James at the Brown Theatre, Louisville, April 17th 2013 »

REVIEW - The Bribes - The Man is Good and Fine

Am I the only one that gets really excited to hear verbosely dark blues-rock music? If we can agree that the music is BLUES, does it also necessitate such DARKNESS? My answer is a resounding “YESSIR.”  Perhaps a, “yes, please” or an even anti-upping, “I’d shake my ass to that” would be more appropriate. I realize this discussion gets all intertwined into bending everything into it’s own genre, but there is a finite bravado that comes with mixing the electrifying sadness of the blues rock ‘n roll essence, with the lurking skeevy creepiness of under the bridge darkness. This classic and rare, but seemingly on the rise, find, really puts my internal blender on a setting I title “puree bitch!”

The waters are as murky as the mudslide in my mug, man.

It really makes me giddy inside. To the point where I find myself questioning my own ethical predisposition. Perhaps that comes with becoming dirtier as you grow older, a mindset I’m apparently going to have to get used to, or I just want to listen to more music that makes me want to hang out at bars further into an evening and catalyze a culture of bad decisions. A self-fulfilling prophecy if you will. We're a quarter of the way through 2013 and I deserve happiness, even if it’s at the expense of my own ethos.

For this unrequited remedy, I bring The Bribes as a peace offering. They are a four piece band that’s been loitering around Chicago, for a few years now, in the most blue collar, “we’re all going to be wearing golden diapers, Bruce Dickinson magic’, mindset as possible. Their debut LP, The Man is Good and Fine is a culmination of the lo-fi darkness in the vein of shot glasses echoing in an empty bar blues-rock sound, with the rock sensibility you’d associate with Elvis. You’ll feel the need to move when you hear it, much like what Jay-Z was talking about in “Death of Auto-Tune.” The moment of silence has passed and it’s time to gyrate.

The Man is Good and Fine is nine-songs with a clear lens of focus, yet with the limited genre mobility comes a great deal of lateral dexterity. Because blue-rock is such a dignified antique, it allows minimal knob turns to create boundless pastures—bringing together the Moody Blues 60’s through the Black Keys ‘010’s and everything in-between. This album seems more modern than the Elvis and Moody Blues references would suggest, but it has to be said, because we are a people of nostalgic recollection. The most notable sounds that pop in my head are a bands from: NYC, John Spencer Blues Explosion; North Carolina, The Rosebuds; and a band I reviewed for TSE from Chicago, Fall Classic. I would put it all in a blues crock-pot with the billowing shadow of Nick Cave’s, “Red Right Hand.”

After a mood setting intro, the album opens with a dirty ditty, “3. 4. 5.” which plays out like an extremely angry Jeff Buckley blues jam avalanche of impending death. The vocals are howling and the song takes a few different shapes, twisting and turning, breaking it down into a big rock finish that’s just plain filthy. It features wonderful guitar noodling that progresses throughout the song path in a sleek, yet stylistic manner. The abrupt finish to the progressive build fuses quickly into “The Down and Ups,” the “single” of the album, which reminds me of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion style, as it’s drenched in intrinsic bravado. The opening guitar lick is a cocky “check me out” attention grabber. The gravely voice trembles in its own rasp like a tune-fork rippling through the stratosphere, and the guitar work is grandiosely 70’s. The song tends to give itself bookends and clearly segmented shifts, reminding me of the way casino shufflers make a deck, which is kind of neat. You’ll know what I mean when you listen to it. It’s clean, catchy rock fun. 21.

“Oh Mother” is a perplexing song that tips its hat to The Rosebuds, in the way the vocals kind of tease each other band and forth. Some throaty emotive crooning blends together with a fierce “la da da da OOOoooooOOOO” backing vocal, that makes the whole experience pleasant as listening to chirping birds in the springtime, when in fact there is some serious shit being conveyed, quite ostentatiously. The song hits the bridge and eventually begins to pick up speed like an evil log run. The whole thing crashes into the water and splashes the listener with a mist that is soothing and disturbing (what IS this water exactly? Why is it green?) at the same time.

The wavering vocals on “Here We Are” are a definitive nod to the confidence of early rock ‘n rollers, with the attitude of a Detroit Jack White stomping thrash. The mid-album intro and number “Old Man Trouble” has an up-chug blues beat with the overlaying hook and feel of the aforementioned Fall Classic. There is plenty of room in the two-and-a-half minutes to solo and just “let it run.” Perhaps this particular song has the ability to stop time, or maybe in my old age, time can actually slow down when you’re rocking. Either way, it’s a gift worth passing along.

Huge guitars. Dark corners. Filthy thoughts. Epic rock-downs. Thrashing up-chugs. Do we have enough whiskey in stock to fund this blues-rock jamboree?

If you marked yes at the end of your test, you sir or madam or madam-sir, will be good and fine, too.
The Man is Good and Fine was released April 11th. The moment you got clean, you started getting dirty again. Might as well purchase this album before hitting the showers for the evening. Filthy fun awaits you. You’re welcome.

The Bribes Facebook – Bandcamp

The Ryan C. Zerfas blog isn't normally this filthy and blues driven, but it does rock and it is recommended going there as well as visiting the short-hand version, Twitter.  

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