Soledad Brothers

Alex Romanelli
Soledad Brothers

Soledad Brothers

City: San Francisco
Venue: Great American Music Hall
Date: 2002-08-13
Given the garage rock explosion that's happened over the last 12 months, it seems almost passé to see a band like the Soledad Brothers. Wasn't the Detroit scene last year's thing? Well, if you think that scene wasn't capable of producing anything more memorable than some cool Lego videos and marital-incest scandals then you obviously didn't get into it early enough, before it become over-hyped, and you clearly haven't heard the Soledad Brothers. The Soledad Brothers are probably the band to have been the most unfairly sidelined in the mainstream's hype over Detroit. No gimmicks, no cute female member to get male fanboys salivating, and no cute boyish looks to tease girly fans. The Soledad Brothers are probably the most authentic blues act to come out of the whole scene. They obviously don't give a fuck about fads and scenes; they just care about playing true rock'n'roll, saving our souls while theirs head straight to hell. These boys are the real deal. Comparisons with the White Stripes are inevitable. But the Soledad Brothers are full of restrained passion and controlled bursts of glory, eschewing the uncontrollable fury and volatility of the White Stripes. The Soledad Brothers are very deliberate, tight, well-rehearsed; it is readily apparent they work hard to sound this good. Casual off-the-cuff killer gems designed to impress belie a real quality musicianship behind their performance. This work ethic fills their songs with a solid integrity and credibility. The Soledad Brothers know the sources of their influences well. This is rock'n'roll as passed down from generation to generation, from the muddy banks of the Mississippi to the inner cities, solid tunes becoming a soundtrack to the harsh urban landscape. To this end, the Soledad Brothers are more closely following in the footsteps of the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones than Howlin' Wolf: classic bands heavily influenced by the blues, but grafting it onto a rebellious rock'n'roll structure and arrangement. Ever wonder how Keith Richards has survived after a life doing so many drugs? He must have sold his soul to the devil, and clearly the Soledad Brothers are channeling Keef and Robert Johnson's souls in equal measure. "Teenage Heart Attack" even cops a classic Stones riff, but it matters not. Keef in turn copped it from an older blues artist. In contrast to the post-everything 21st century, the music of the Soledad Brothers isn't so much about innovation and originality. It's about musicianship, craftsmanship and playing with soul, sincerity. These are factors easily forgotten about in the quest to impress or do something brand new just for the sake of being original, regardless of quality and purpose. It's old skool Detroit rock all the way, there's no teenybop sheen to these guys. The Vines and the Strokes this trio is not. The band has an element of danger, a certain sleazy edge. These are the boys you want on your side when someone pulls a knife on you in a dark alley at 4am. The band are also true to their Detroit roots, grafting their love of '60s R&B onto a punk howl reminiscent of the MC5. For most of their tight, raucous, 45-minute set, the band is on fire. When they do slow it down mid-set, they do so building a song around low crooning vocals, accompanied by a slow deep bass drum and a dirty, filthy guitar riff. The brothers are going straight for the pantyline; and they succeed in seducing. Just when you're sucked in and ready to lie naked for them, BOOM, the band deliver the kiss off, guitars exploding in a shower of vintage sparks. The Soledad Brothers. It's all they need to win over the crowd and prove themselves. And you know they're going to keep at it, driving from town to town, preaching their gospel night after night, using just a couple of guitars, drums and the occasional sax.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.