Tuesday, July 24, 2012
REVIEW: The Blakes - Art of Losses
When I read that The Blakes had left Seattle for their Maine motherland to record their third full length album, I was concerned. Sometimes sequestration in a different environment can produce great works, but it also can lead to insular product, inscrutable to all not involved. Well, I'm happy to report that all is well. Art of Losses is an excellent album -- A wide spectrum alt rock/garage pop thesis and, in my opinion, the most consistent of this band's career.
As suggested by the title, the theme of the album is loss, and dealing with loss. But rather than allow their inspiration to weigh down the proceedings, Garnet Keim, Snow Keim and Bob Husak have used it to push themselves artistically. The title track provides a fine introduction to the album's sound --
The Blakes have always been a straightforward band. The sound is stripped to the basics rock, with crunchy guitars and powerpop vocals, both of which honor their '60s influences without mimicking them. But straightforward doesn't mean limited. A primary reason I think that the band have been one of the consistently best over the last decade is their ability to coherently and entertainingly express themselves in a variety of styles -- from swampy, bluesy and booze-soaked to dreamy and melodic. I'll provide a few examples, below.
In "Sea Fishing (Slow It Down)", The Blakes craft a swaggering slice of rock that wouldn't be out of place in the Rolling Stones catalog.
A raunchy, bar-band sing-a-long side of the band is exemplified by "Paralysis" --
Yet, the band is fully comfortable writing and performing a sincere, high quality indie pop song, such as "Old Gal" --
That The Blakes have not yet captured a wider audience is a shame. But for those of you who didn't know about them before, now you have your chance to grab the work of one of the country's finer bands. This is your chance. Don't screw it up.
Twitter ( @theblakesband )