Wednesday, May 28, 2014

REVIEW: Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires - Dereconstructed

We here at WYMA are all in for Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires. John Hyland penned one of the first articles ever written about the boys from Birmingham Alabama here in March 2012, and their debut album There Is A Bomb In Gilead made a couple of our Best of 2012 lists (mine and John's).

So we've waited with great expectations for their 2nd LP, this one done for the top shelf indie label, Sub Pop Records based in Seattle.

Dereconstructed, quite simply, is the noisiest, most relentlessly rocking 10 song burst of pure adrenalin imaginable. It's a bold statement and a big step forward for the band, which is saying a lot given the strength of There Is A Bomb In Gilead.

Second records are tricky as the term "sophomore slump" didn't appear from out of nowhere. Bands often fall prey to either rehashing their first record with inferior songs, or stretch too hard to have "a hit", or get pushed into the studio too quickly when they have maybe 3 songs ready to go and the rest being done on the fly, compared to the lifetime they had to write the songs for their debut. No such pitfalls on Dereconstructed which sounds like a band just coming into its own, destined for greatness.

This record so goes against the computer-enhanced grain of the day, turning it up literally to the point of distortion and putting the pedal to the floor and not letting up, capturing a very intentionally raw sound.

Here's the brand new (today!) video for kicking ass and taking names opening track "The Company Man":

And here's a particular favorite of mine, and maybe the "slowest" one on Dereconstructed, "The Weeds Downtown":

As both songs linked above demonstrate, Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires have absorbed their rock and roll history well, drawing from the Faces, Ramones, fellow Alabamians The Drive-By Truckers, and an earlier Sub Pop band called Nirvana. But more than anything, the sound here reminds me of the first Clash record and early Sonic Youth with its distortion and sheer 'go for it' abandon.

What I especially admire is how working within very defined idioms - punk rock and Southern rock - Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires avoid every rule and formula. Reminds me of discovering The Replacements' debut Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, punk rock that sounded nothing like anyone else's punk rock, no mean feat in 1981 and even more noteworthy today. What sets this band apart and keeps this sort of standard guitar/bass/drums rock'n'roll sounding so fresh is Lee Bains' vocals. The guy is a tremendous rock and roll singer who has more than a little bit of Southern soul shouter in him, as if Wilson Pickett's work up the road from Birmingham at Muscle Shoals somehow seeped into him at birth.  Most rock singers, even the great ones like Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen, have to work hard to effect this, but Bains naturally oozes soul.

And Bains' songwriting, especially lyrically, steps up here too. Every song here has a strong structure, irresistible guitar riffs, and there are killer chorus' abound. And the sonic noise is matched by Bains' populist fury - raging against the decline of the middle class, the stubborn backwards politics of the contemporary South, and Christian hypocrisy, but with panache, intelligence and void of cliche, again much like the first Clash album. Dereconstructed is a terrific title for this 2014 Southern-fried, angry punk mayhem.

Yet, like any good Southern boy, Bains loves the Southland and his family and that comes through strongly, particularly in another gem here "The Kudzu and the Concrete":

There's a thing about 
All these freight trains' trumpeting sounds 
That makes hearts like ours Hum like struck steel.
There's a thing about 
Being wild and green in this careful, rusted town
That makes the dark heavy air
Sit sickly still.
Most times, hopping on here takes you to Elmwood Cemetery.
And I forget which time of day, it'll take you straight to Memphis,Tennessee.
In the kudzu and the concrete, I was born at the feet of the city.
In the kudzu and the concrete, We learned to love at the feet of the city.

The band's and producer Tim Kerr's approach here was to capture their live sound and they succeeded. The sound here leaps from the speakers with spontaneous energy. The band is finely tuned after spending most of the past two years on the road. Listen to "Kudzu and The Concrete" recorded live in New York City earlier this year here:

The Glory Fires themselves are a crack unit, the perfect Southern punk rock band, The Scorchers to Bains' Jason if you will. The rhythm section of brothers, drummer Blake Williamson and bass player Adam Williamson, is super tight, and guitarist Eric Wallace joins Bains for a blistering twin-pronged nasty guitar assault. Best of all, the quartet are a true band playing as a unit.

Dereconstructed is rebel's music, as God, the South and Joe Strummer intended.

Stream the entire CD here from NPR's web page. Buy this record and be sure to see them when they come to your town.

Band web page. 
Facebook - Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires
Twitter: @TheGloryFires

 Tour dates here: Wednesday, June 4 – Birmingham, AL – Bottletree Thursday, June 5 – Atlanta, GA – The EARL Friday, June 6 – Chattanooga, TN – Riverbend Festival Monday, June 9 – Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe Tuesday, June 10 – Kansas City, MO – Tank Room Wednesday, June 11 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge Thursday, June 12 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Garage Friday, June 13 – Boise, ID – Neurolux Saturday, June 14 – Stanley, ID – Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon Monday, June 16 – Missoula, MT – The Palace Tuesday, June 17 – Seattle, WA – The Tractor Wednesday, June 18 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios Thursday, June 19 – Eugene, OR – Sam Bond’s Garage Friday, June 20 – San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside Saturday, June 21 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Hi-Fi Sunday, June 22 – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar Monday, June 23 – Scottsdale, AZ – The Western Wednesday, June 25 – Dallas, TX – Three Links* Thursday, June 26 – San Antonio, TX – The Limelight* Friday, June 27 – Austin, TX – Red 7* Saturday, June 28 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s* Sunday, June 29 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jack’s* Thursday, July 10 - Nashville, TN - The Basement Friday, July 11 - Louisville, KY - Zanzabar Saturday, July 12 - Fort Wayne, IN - The Brass Rail Sunday, July 13 - Bloomington, IN - The Bishop Monday, July 14 - Cincinnati, OH - MOTR Pub Tuesday, July 15 - Pittsburgh, PA - The Smiling Moose Wednesday, July 16 - Boston, MA - Great Scott Friday, July 18 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge Saturday, July 19 - Asbury Park, NJ - Asbury Lanes Sunday, July 20 - Philadelphia, PA - Ortlieb’s Lounge Monday, July 21 - Washington, DC - DC9 Tuesday, July 22 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter Thursday, July 24 - Charlotte, NC - The Milestone Friday, July 25 - Raleigh, NC - King’s Saturday, July 26 - Macon, GA - Bragg Jam Friday, August 1- Katowice, POLAND - OFF Festival Saturday, August 2 - Ostersund, SWEDEN - Storsjoyran Wednesday, August 6 - Oslo, NORWAY - Crossroads Friday, August 8 - Goteborg, SWEDEN - Way Out West Saturday, August 9 - Avesta, SWEDEN - Bjurfors Hotel Sunday, August 10 - Stockholm, SWEDEN - Akkurat

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