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Music Review: The Black Crowes – Warpaint

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[Dear Maxim Editors,

Since you likely have a job opening what with the recent “incident” over your “review” of the new Black Crowes CD combined with the “writer” in question, David Peisner, throwing you guys under the bus by proclaiming his innocence to the Los Angeles Times even though his words obviously contradict him, I present a sample:]

An Educated-Guess Preview:

It’s been seven years since The Black Crowes gave listeners an album full of new music, and Warpaint satisfies that itch. The last few years of touring has knocked off the rust and this murder of Crowes is ready to slay you with the neo-classic rock sounds that have thrilled their listeners since the ‘90s. It’s a good mix of groovy rockers that will have you up on your feet and tender ballads that’ll bring out the lighters, which Crowes’ fans usually have out anyway.

[Editors, artists are much more open to the notion of receiving reviews by hacks that haven’t listened to their work when said hack is positive. You might as well give them four stars because surely no one will complain. The Crowes should be happy with the high praise, and the knuckleheads who read your magazine will be too busy, daydreaming without their pants over girls they’ll never meet, to notice. Now, if you are going to be changing your ways, I have this for you:]

A Review:

After going on hiatus in 2002 and playing live since 2005, the Robinson brothers and their cohorts deliver 11 new tracks of classic Black Crowes material as they explore their musical roots. It should satisf fans, but if you didn’t get them before, Warpaint won’t change your mind.

“Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution,” the album opener, offers a call to “come join the jubilee” of both Warpaint and of what life has to offer. Music has a great power to remind people of what they are missing, which is why many bust “outta sawdust town” or the city to go claim what they need out of the numbered days.

There’s familiar-sounding guitar work that most writers will likely still feel the need to point out is reminiscent of The Faces and The Rolling Stones of the early 1970s, either to unintentionally reveal their age or thinking they are proving their rock music bonafides. We got it. The Crowes’ sound is stuck in time, just like that comment which has been stated since their first album in 1990. Let me guess the next pearl of wisdom. “MTV doesn’t play videos anymore.” At what point does the music become the sound of The Black Crowes? Eighteen years out, I don’t think they are dabbling anymore, and they sound good playing it.

“Walk Believer Walk” is a wonderful swamp blues, dark and deep, that has to be led by new addition Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi Allstars. The organ sounds fantastic, filling the rhythm section, offering glimmers of sacred through the profane. This one will be fantastic live.

As well as they rock the house, the Crowes have always been able to slow it down and create wonderful ballads. “Oh Josephine” fits the bill as the music’s melodic beauty is likely to make it a fan favorite and will obscure the story of the junkie torn between his love for her and his addiction. The coda is a great close, allowing you to drift off and learn the ending of the story without it being revealed in words.

“Evergreen” follows in contrast. Rather than love on the rocks, it’s a positive love song that rocks. Dickinson’s solo is almost too good; I was completely captivated by it and didn’t want to return to the song.

The album continues rocking and rolling with the band slightly altering their sound as they segue throughout the album’s remainder, from the southern rock of “Wounded Bird” to the mandolin-embellished country-rock of “Locust Street” and even slipping in a rousing cover of Reverend Charlie Jackson’s gospel number “God’s Got It.” In the end, The Crowes reveal all the labels can be stripped away because at the core it’s all just music, plain and simple.

The Black Crowes work for many because the listener knows what they are going to get: good music that’s comfortable and familiar. The band is that old favorite t-shirt or pair of jeans, quite possibly out of fashion, but damn, if they don’t always feel right when you slip them on.

[On second thought, Editors, save the job offer. My integrity is not for sale and I don’t want to be tainted by being associated with your magazine. Thanks anyway.]
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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • So who you callin’ old?

    Besides, you forgot to mention Humble Pie.

    gawddam whippersnappers…


  • I know The Faces, so we’re in the same demographic, man.

  • If I had to describe gritty, raunchy rock without comparing it to Ron Wood-affiliated bands, I’d be speechless ;&)

  • As would many, many music writers who have come before you, Pico.

    Imagine if The Crowes did some shows with Wood the way they did Jimmy Page a few years back. The music they make might would be so dense from Wood-infusion it would likely collapse in on itself like a black hole. Best to save the mushrooms for that night. Might be the only thing to prepare you for what’s on the other side.

    I still need to d-load that NMAS show, but I really liked Luther on this disk.

  • nice work, really freakin funny.

  • Thanks, Eric.

  • First, you really did brilliantly nail the pathetic fraud perpetrated by Maxim. It’s an outrage what they did to the Black Crowes, their readers, and journalism in general. Shit like this reinforces the band’s decision not to make their records available in advance for honest writers to review and that’s a real shame. This is a stain.

    To the review, I’d never thought of the Crowes’ ballads but you are right; they do them well.

    Dickinson is a fantastic addition to their sound, Ronnie Wood comparisons or not.

  • Thankfully, The Crowes outed Maxim and Peisner. It turns out they pulled the same thing on a rapper named Nas.

    There are way too many lazy, untalented hacks who just spew their chum in the waters of pop culture criticism and the ‘net has given more of them access. They really don’t care about writing; they just want the label. They are focused on getting free stuff, making some dough, and drawing attention to themselves even though they don’t do the heavy lifting required.

    What’s funny is incidents like this and that idiot DJ Electra from Chicago, who played the entire Icky Thump before it was released, are the ones who cause artists to turn away and say, “Screw you, we are going straight to the fans.”

    While everyone wants to blame the music industry for what’s wrong in music today, it is just as much the fault of thieves, hucksters, and the music-buying public who have helped shaped the direction of where things are headed.

    Thanks for the comments.

  • Alesssandro

    Stupid T&A magazines.

    Great fun this piece.

    Off to buy the CD first thing tomorrow.

    NO, I do not “download” man. I buy the music. Call me a sucker.