For a minute there back in March, it looked like San Francisco's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was going to be this year's "savior of rock and roll." The band, named after Marlon Brando's Wild Ones biker gang, has since been eclipsed in that department by the Strokes, but BRMC has still garnered more good buzz than the audience at a Cheech and Chong film retrospective. And this is a rare case in which you can really believe the hype. Peter Hayes, Robert Turner and Nick Jago have made a debut that is beautiful and dreamy, with sonic layers on some tracks and straight-up, fuzzed-out rock on others.
Call it psychedelia with balls. And though the influences are apparent (Love and Rockets, Jesus and Mary Chain, Verve, T.Rex), the group manages to make its own mark while jettisoning much of the arty pretense. Hayes's slashing guitar and voice make tracks like "Love Burns" and the punked-out "Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll" burn with intensity. Turner's greasy glories and Sabbath-style fat bass rumblings on "Spread Your Love" practically dare you not to turn up the volume.
But the band is even more adept at a kind of modern psychedelia with swirling grooves and rich lyrical imagery. "Too Real" and "Salvation" sound like Beatles tracks left behind at the maharishi's compound, while the tougher "Awake" is buoyed again by Turner's bass. The record's most lolling and atmospheric tracks, "As Sure as the Sun" and "Rifles," have slow-paced tempos that float gently by. In true psychedelic fashion, many of the tracks feature lengthy intros and codas, as if the actual songs were just snatches of a much larger picture.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Mary Jane's, 4216 Washington Avenue
Wednesday, December 5; 713-869-JANE
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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has made a record of great mood music -- for a variety of moods.