It seems like ever since early 2002, I have been hearing the phrase “rock is back” alongside write-ups of every flash in the pan album or artist that has sprung up with a garage rock sound. It’s just so fucking irritating. But now that I have heard Black is Beautiful, the new album by LA’s Rolling Blackouts, I just might have to eat crow and say it myself. These boys from So Cal have the intensity of The Stooges and the MC5 as well as the party-hearty, keg-stand fun of The Sonics with a massive amalgamation of everything that made good classic rock sound good.
On tracks such as “Overdrive” the rockin’ shimmy of Grand Funk Railroad rears it’s head, as does the garage rock energy of the Yardbirds. The ADD crowd will be delighted to find singer Daniel Holden’s gritty, bloody-murder screaming to be quite suitable to their ears. Backed up by the piercing savvy of bassist Michael Peralta and guitarist Jarrod Stiles, it’s no wonder that the Rolling Blackouts were named one of Alternative Press magazine’s 100 Bands You Need to Know About in 2004. In my opinion AP should have given the Rolling Blackouts more attention that they have actually earned, instead using most of their cover stories to lick the assholes of every (scr)e(a)mo band that comes around. But enough of my bitching, let’s focus on this awesomely unruly quartet.
Ever hear anyone say “If it feels good, do it?” If so, you will be delighted when you hear drummer Gabriel Garnica pulsate the living shit out of his drums on “Black Cake” where the beats drop and go “BOOM!” just like aerial bombardment footage from the History Channel. Garnica aims to please once again with “Rock Paper Scissors” where he goes apeshit on the drums, yet again, just like Keith Moon did on Live at Leeds. The song itself is a rambunctious number complete with the oh-la-la-la’s and would be a good anthem to blare on your speakers when you decide to play circle of death with a bottle of Bacardi 151. And “Hung Up on the Hangups” will go over well with those who fancy a tweak with a hint of go-go twist.
The riffs are ever-so impressive on “Troubled” where they become husky as the Blackouts charter across some bluesy terrain. And if you’re a snide bastard like myself, then you will surely yearn for “Loophole Blues.”
These boys even show some swagger with the cool and bumptious arrogance of T. Rex and Mott the Hoople on “Lots of Love.” If you could write and play a song this superior, you would be given a free pass to be arrogant too. “Ms. Bitter” is some cool and sleazy titty bar fun that is so pleasantly trashy that it requires a slot at the Déjà vu jukebox, while “Velvet Revenge” mixes shoegazer chords with illustrious harmonies that exhibit what the Foo Fighters could sound like if they had at least 10% of the talent that the Rolling Blackouts have.
The whole experience of listening to Black is Beautiful is like going on a wild binge of diet pills and beer which is why “Without Shakin” is accurately placed at the end, reminiscent of the morning after when you have to wake up and wallow in all the mistakes that you made and bridges that you burned when you were all fucked up. This is a truly great album for partying, drinking, whoring, and breaking lots of shit. Enjoy!
The Datsuns – The Datsuns
Mando Diao – Bring Em In
Radio Birdman – Radios Appear