Monday, September 11, 2017

Black Joe Lewis - Backlash

I've been a huge fan of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears ever since discovering their first album and have supremely dug their subsequent two. Their rock'n'soul sounds (mixed with punk, funk and whatever else they feel like throwing in) are always refreshingly energetic, with funky rhythms, soulful horns, raw-edged guitar work and fantastic singing.

In Backlash, Joe and the 'Bears mine the same territory as before, but the songwriting is always top-of-the-line and they don't stick to a rote formula. The opening "Flash Eyed" really doesn't follow any formula at all, but the horns hold it together in a soulful fashion, while the guitars churn out crunchy chords and whammy'd melodic lines. "Sexual Tension" has Sly and the Family Stone funkiness combined with Lewis' melodic James Brown-ish vocals, there's some minor-key grooviness in "Global" that builds into an intensely rockin' rave-up, then they slow down for a soul-filled, dynamic ballad in "Nature's Natural" that still includes a fierce, fuzz-toned guitar break.

We get some strings in the Issac Hayes-like "Lips of a Loser"that excalates nicely with some cool guitar work, there's a bit of danceable funk in "PTP", "Freakin' Out' has riff-rockin' hints of Outkast, wild guitar work, wailin' sax and frenetic punch and "Shadow People" continues with more potent smack'n'heavy guitars with a psyched-out whammy bar solo. There's a breather in "Wasted" with its pretty'n'melodic minor key mellowness and then I'm not sure what all is going on in "Prison" - there's some Stones-swagger, a bit of no wave dissonance, rockin' guitar riffs and a brutal delivery from Lewis - but I dig it, and then everything ends with some psych-soul in "Maroon".

Another excellent endeavor from the Honeybears! All of their stuff is top-notch - certainly hope they make it to Vegas one of these days!