By Jake Ebdale
Released August 30th, 2013 - Shock Records
Hailing from Austin, Texas, the name of this band: Black Joe Lewis. Their game: southern skulduggery in the form of fuzzy, dirty Zep riffs, punk and bastard blues. Going back a bit, Joe Lewis wrote 2009's'Sugarfoot', a funk revivalist stomp which always intrigued. Checking out that track's accompanying debut album Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is, the James Brown comparisons were obvious - a bit too much to be taken seriously. Basically, it was good music but derivative. Baring sonic similarities can be detrimental, especially stacked against a singular artist like the Godfather of Soul. But this time round, the band has (mostly) shaken off the comparisons. It's gotten a bit looser, a bit more dangerous and definitely sleazier with third album Electric Slave.
Obvious review in short: Shit's raw, son. Black Keys comparisons could be obvious, but the shouts and growls coming from Lewis' diaphragm beg otherwise. The short stabs of brass cut through the mix like tripwire, and the guitars are live and loud - it's what soul sounds like at 4am in the morning.
‘Skulldiggin' is straight mud dirty. A monster of a riff, I salivate to hear this live. ‘Come To My Party' is sweat ridden party funk with an inventive middle eight, a lighter moment that is a slight break from the onslaught. The start of ‘Vampire' sounds like someone letting off a firecracker through a brothel. ‘The Hipster' is just a damn good time. Really gripping, gritty stuff.
There are some pitfalls, when the obvious influences hurt the songs, such as ‘My Blood Ain't Runnin Right'downright imitating Iggy Pop's vocal delivery. Again, can't take it seriously. It's when the band becomes sloppy and uninhabited when it gets exciting, when they start breaking boundaries. Listen to closer'Mamma's Queen' to hear this in full effect.
What I mainly dig about Electric Slave is how spontaneous and live it really sounds. I'm hearing it through headphones, but can envision a basement full of people holding half empty whiskey bottles, out of their mind, gettin' down right next to the band. Music that evocative can't be bad for your health. Buy it.
4 / 5