Sunday , September 27 2020
El Bicho tries out as a record reviewer for "Maxim" magazine.

Music Review: The Black Crowes – Warpaint

[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.]

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

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