Blood on the Wall live up to their name. Their sound evokes the image of their moniker—the viscous, startling liquid flying through the air, stopping only when up against a surface. Blood on the Wall’s songs slither along but never give up the hard undercurrent. It sounds like something a person could slowly drown in, like mud.
Anyway, head on back to the mid-‘90s, when guitar rock reigned. That’s where Blood on the Wall’s Awesomer resides, and it’s to our benefit. If Kim Gordon fronted Red Red Meat. If any angry Daniel Johnston jumped onstage with L7 and told them to play the blues. The Grifters wrestling Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez to the ground. These are apt descriptions as long as it’s understood that Blood on the Wall are more than a tribute band. Their individuality sneaks through with their calmly menacing aggression and with their ability to always sound impassioned. They sound like they mean it and even if they’ve made a record that doesn’t forge new ground, sincerity does win out.
Starting with music sounding like it’s being played in the dark underwater, singer Courtney Shanks warns, “Keep one eye over your shoulder” (“Stoner Jam”). The rest of the CD lays testament to this advice. As you’re settling in with a dirge they come back with a punked-out anthem that blows your chair back a few inches. When you’re up, dancing in underwear, they drop it all for a moment of bluesy psychedelia. Then, it’s both at once, like “Gone”, which channels a manic Gordon Gano fronting Led Zeppelin. Weird. But good.
In the end, Awesomer succeeds because of everything it doesn’t pretend to be. This is a band that sounds seriously inspired by the last twenty years of underground rock ‘n’ roll. They take the sounds and feel of this time and parlay it into a record that, while it may wane towards the end, almost always gives away excitement and good times as a matter of course.
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// Notes from the Road
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