Once in a while, there are moments in time you remember. Last year, I attended the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. It was very hot and smoky in this bar and The Cramps were playing at a volume so loud that it was hurting my deaf ears. I had had one or two drinks. Are you with me? I looked up and there she was. From the back, a pink conservative ‘50s dress, fishnet stockings and a hairstyle that resembled June Cleaver. I used the “need a drink” excuse to push myself near her, and she turned, giving me the nicest red lipstick smile I had ever seen. I stood there frozen as I stared at the tattoos that covered her arms and hands. It was simultaneously one of the most horrifying and exciting things I have ever seen. As she twirled her local Texas brew, she asked: “do you like the Cramps?” I stood there speechless. What a dolt I am. As the first crunch of the guitars chugged out of the speakers with this release, I could hear this girl asking me: do you like The Blacks?” Yeh, wherever she is, I KNOW she’d like The Blacks. Definitely. I sure do.
The opening track, “Head On a String,” is just a pumping, crunching locomotive of a song. As an aside, their label, Bloodshot, is a real purveyor of quality, releasing some of the best No Depression, fuzz country in the world. This is a shining example. Swamp rock, bayou rock, what would I call this? I just call it good stuff. Guitars sound like guitars, drums sound like drums and the vocals are not bathing in a sea of reverb. When you got the goods, you don’t need much production and they do not need slicky boy gloss.
The Blacks’ new release smokes and smolders and gives you a “feeling.” And its not happy or sad or mad. Its the kind of feeling you get when you get a smile from the granddaughter of June Cleaver with tattoos. Alright…lets spin this CD again.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/blacks-head/