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Be Your Own Guide

3 December, 2005

Last week I picked up a copy of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s first album (B.R.M.C.). It’s a good couple of years old (2001), and I never bothered with it when it first came out, mainly because BRMC were described in several reviews as being very derivative of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and you just can’t better the Jesus and Mary Chain. But the CD was languishing in the bargain bin of a department store, so I figured I didn’t have too much to lose (?5.00 to be exact). Besides, I’d bought their second album Howl (on the back of hearing the Spector-ish title track) a couple of weeks back, and that was pretty decent on the whole (and also nothing like JAMC)…

It turns out that the revewer’s comparisons were unfounded. Sure, there are some good distorted guitar workouts, but there’s none of the JAMC feedback-as-an-instrument ideology. It’s still fairly derivative, but owes a lot more to late ’60s West-coast psychedelic rock than mid ’80s British indie. There’s also a lot more variety on B.R.M.C. than you’ll find on Psyychocandy or Darklands. BRMC can rock out like the Stooges (What Ever Happened to My Rock and Roll), do melancholy (the towering Head Up High) and take a good stab at the Verve’s…well, verve (White Palms).

Overall, it’s a great album, and one that I wished I’d picked up sooner, and not paid attention to the lazy-assed reviewer’s comparisons. I’m also enjoying Howl more – it’s much easier to appreciate how they got to where they are now if you know where they started from…

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