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BRMC is the debut album by indie band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Released in 2001, it features some of the band's most popular singles, several of which have become very popular modern anthems.
BRMCs major influences are clear to see, such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, T-Rex, early Oasis, and the Velvet Underground, and its easy to understand why the band created such a stir with their initial singles. There's plenty of rock 'n' roll energy and swagger here, along with great thumping tunes to enjoy. I've owned this album for several years, along with the band's more recent releases, and it definitely features a handful of songs which could be considered their best work. Unfortunately, on reflection, it is one of their least consistent albums, and the rest of the tracks don't really hold up to the few moments of brilliance.
For the most part, these shortcomings are due to a bit of over-indulgence (stringing out a 3 and a 1/2 minute track to a 6 minute snooze-inducer) or a lack of imagination (starting with a good idea which ends up going nowhere).
Anyway, here are my highlights...
The album opener has a great intro, which starts gently and brings in some smashing drums. It showcases some good riffs and strong rhythms, with some great distorted guitar sounds - a nice and fuzzy dirty groove! It's a great start to the album...
"Red Eyes and Tears"
The 2nd track has a slightly different feel, being darker and slower, but is again very strong with some catchy riffs. It's slow rumblings give way to a blistering guitar sound later in the track, which really makes it come alive.
"Whatever Happened to my Rock n Roll"
This is the first I ever heard of BRMC; a brilliant, fast and furious track. It's catchy and exciting - a great example of the attitude and groove that the band undeniably have. However, it is also the question I found myself asking once I had listened to some of the weaker songs on the album!
"Spread Your Love"
This has an instantly recognisable opening riff which you may have heard regularly on "Live at the Apollo", "Skins" or any number of TV trailers. Again it's really catchy and has the sound of an established band whi know exactly what they're doing. It's good old-fashioned rock n roll in my book, and a modern classic.
Unfortunately that's it. I really wanted to give this album 4 stars, because the tracks that work are phenomenal. However it gets 3, because the rest of the album misses more than it hits. There are some absolute classics here, but I can't imagine myself ever sitting through the whole album again - I will just be ruthless and skip to those tracks I've highlighted.
While last year seen The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club release their third album it also reminded me that I hadnt listened to the debut effort B.R.M.C. for quite a while. So having dusted it down and put it into the CD player it quickly reminded me just how good their debut was. It was released in late 2001 off the back of a couple of singles and very quickly the boys from San Francisco started to really make a name for themselves. It didnt take them long to break the UK and were pretty much an instant hit. The origin of the bands name comes from Marlon Brandos motorcycle gang in the film The Wild One.
The album was part of an American rock invasion that started earlier in the year with the Strokes and saw a number of bands arrive on our shores at the same time. Only a few had the tracks to back up the hype that followed and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club turned out to be one of them. While a number of those bands seem to have vanished into obscurity this trio have managed to ride the wave and as a result have increased in popularity with each passing album.
I think the main reason for The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club staying power is the fact they didnt sound identical to all the other bands at the time. They seemed to have quite a refreshing blend of influences and that is why they were set apart from the mass influx. Its clear that the band are fans of 70s & 80s rock and blend it perfectly with a touch of Phsychadelia from the late 60s and top it off nicely with the mid 90s Indie rock sound. This first album seemed to have the media comparing them to Jesus and Mary Chain, but as it turned out it was just a starting point for the larger picture and for the most part its an excellent starting point.
Despite the comparisons and certain elements of the press calling them a retread of old bands there is a distinctive sound to this album. Its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it is a decent starting point. The mixture of long winding bass lines and distorted guitars blend in perfectly with the raspy vocals. The guitars and drum combination provide a decent musical edge to the tracks that bring back memories of early Oasis and the likes of Joy Division. For these reasons its clear that they have taken influences from a number of different sources rather than just re-treading one bands already worn path. They are clearly trying to create a new way for themselves and the follow up albums certainly show the results of this.
The writing combination between the two front men seems to work well and their vocals really play off each other well. In Peter Hayes and Robert Turner the band have two very talented front men. As a result of this combination it means they can alter the sound of the tracks and one or other of them seems to have the ability and vocal range to pick up the lead in the song. The combination of the two vocal styles really make The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club stand out and again this obviously played a part in their sustainability where others failed.
As all debut albums itll probably be recognisable by the singles and for the most part they are definitely the stronger tracks on the album. My favourite tracks from this album are certainly a couple of those singles. Whatever Happened To My Rock And Roll stood out from the first time I heard it, with a quick paced intro and a very catchy rhythm as the vocals come in. Its also a very well written track and shows exactly what The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The other track that really stands out for me is Spread Your Love, which combines distorted guitars and edgy vocals and certainly shows this debut album at its best.
There are a few downsides to the album though and there is certainly room for improvement. There are a couple of tracks that seem to go on just that little bit too long. The average track length must be just over 5 minutes long and over 11 tracks that can make a few of them drag on a little longer than they otherwise should. For instance in Rifles they have a pretty decent song, but at 7 minutes long it seems like its been dragged out just that little bit too far. I didnt particularly find any weak tracks on this album just a few that went on a little over board in length.
Overall this is a reasonable debut. It provided a platform for The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to build from and they have certainly done that. Id have no hesitation in recommending this album despite a few flaws as it has some really good songs on it. There are a number of influences mixed into this album and Id certainly suggest fans of early Oasis, Velvet Underground and Jesus & Mary Chain give it a try. As debut albums go it cant be considered a stand out album; however the band returned to record another album, which is more than can be said for a number of other bands that appeared in 2001. This is certainly one for the Indie/Rock fans amongst us.
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BRMC showcased this album in 2002 at many of the festivals and went down a storm. Many friends came back after seeing them and saying "Look out for BRMC, they'll be the next, next, next big thing etc." After listening to them live prior to actually hearing the album, I was convinced that they were going to be. BRMCs album had it have come out five years ago when rock and roll appeared to be dying on its arse because of the Blur and Oasis (slightly saved by Radiohead) saga, it would be possibly elevated in respect. However it has arrived at a time when the market is saturated with albums like this. The singles released such as "Love Burns" + "Spread your Love" + the enigmatic "What ever happended to our Rock n Roll" are all classics of indie clubs and have geniune staying power but the rest of the album seems a bit hit and miss. Tunes such as "rifles" slow the album down and "salvation" at the end is too depressing. A good try for the first album, and if you get a chance see them live, but the general consensus of those fans a year later is one of Oh yeah I still listen to it, however it is tucked away behind other next big things.
If you're into indie-rock or alt-rock then you're bound to love this. Otherwise its nothing special, nothing new either. Because of the recent Strokes-mania, a whole bunch of American indie and rock bands have gained popularity in their wake. This is one of them, although they don't really sound very Strokes-like. or anything like them in fact. They have a more produced and polished sound, and the songs lack the raw energy that everyone loves the Strokes for. So, more dispassioned, not quite as catchy, but still pretty good. And the music is just as sexy its own way. Reviews of this band tend to view them as 'dark'. Personally, I think Britney Spears is darker than this lot (OK, thats an exxageration). There's about two tracks on this that could really be viewed as dark. However, wanton would seem to describe them fairly well, taking their odd name from the Brando classic the Wild One and regurgitating wishy-washy indie and making it sound dangerous and sexy. The chugging guitar riffs and fuzzy vocals bring to mind Jesus and Mary Chain, also Primal Scream. At some points (Awake, for example), they sound distinctly Stone Roses-like and theres even a touch of Sabbath in there! So, just for fun I've decided to sum up each song on the album in four words or less 1. Love Burns- Perfect single material 2. Red Eyes and Tears- dark, moody, excellant 3. Whatever happened to rock and roll- Very Ash-like 4. Awake- blissful. Stone Rose-y 5. White Palms- great bass guitar! 6. As sure as the sun- sulky teenager material 7. Rifles- alternately moody/hopeful 8. Too real- contradictory (thats the point) 9. Spread your love- fantastically catchy 10. head up high- nothing special 11. Salvation- sweet, lovely, uplifting. The albums best tracks are the growling, snarly Red Eyes and Tears, the shake-your-ass Spread your love, and the signature single Love Burns. Whatever
happened to my rock and roll is a typical shout-out-the-chorus indie song. There are no really weak tracks on this album. And thats definitely a good. This may not be the most original (the comparisons to the aforementioned bands are not unfounded) and they may be a little pretentious, being little more than an indie band with more leather and more attitude, but they are definitely one to watch out for, and this is a strong debut for them to build on.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Love Burns
2 Red Eyes And Tears
3 Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song)
5 White Palms
6 As Sure As The Sun
8 Too Real
9 Spread Your Love
10 Head Up High