By Brian Arsenault
Daniel Kirkpatrick and The Bayonets
Alibis (Rock Ridge Music)
About the time I’m thinking well this guy and his three piece band are maybe more “singer/songwriter” than rock. I mean you can understand just about all the lyrics. Does this guy understand rock ‘n roll. Does he?
But after two kinda boring if heartfelt tunes at the start, we get to the title track with its classic rock harmonies and foot tapping seduction and I go, Heyyy. “This Way” follows and I’m bouncing along and it is pleasing, melodic (think CSN) definite rock.
Honestly, I think the era of self produced albums has meant a loss of the value of professional producers. You have to lead with your best, not a couple filler tunes.
By “Don’t Leave Me Waiting” I realize that the underneath sound I’ve been digging is a drummer, Spencer Booth, who just keeps growing on you. The whole album does.
I think Kirkpatrick, who must be in his late twenties by now, is having some trouble leaving high school behind, but that can be hard for an American kid. What’s after high school, after all? CNN and Target.
“I don’t know you now but I knew you then.” Kirkpatrick says he has found his voice. I believe him. Better things ahead.
There’s a feel here of music that you can wrap yourself in. A caring soul, rare enough in music or anywhere these days. Music that gets you reflective. And there’s something of art in that, eh?
“All I Can Take” definitely has a Who kind of depth of feeling. And again those drums. I’m not saying Keith Moon here but. . .
“Ransom” is rock “victory, tragedy wander(ing) the land” complete with pulsing guitar (Kirkpatrick, I think) and bass (Jordan Cassidy).
“Emerald Blues in A Minor,” the rather pompously titled last cut, is at least a blues tribute missing from much rock these days. (More about that later.)
And on the last three songs just mentioned, the lyrics are a lot less clear. Rock on.
Black Belt Karate
Vol. 1 (Organic Audio)
About the time I’m really liking their energy on “Push” but thinking Black Belt Karate never does a change of pace, they do. On the really haunting (just in time for Halloween) “Building Walls.”
“Surprise, surprise” the song’s lyric says — good lyrics to despair by but loving in their own way. No such lovey stuff as they return to speed rock on “Kaleidoscope.” “You’re a bummer and a bitch. Baby, you’re obnoxious.”
I guess the war of the sexes continues and just as I was thinking these Millennial rockers with their album, Vol. 1, are a long way from the blues and r&b which are the base of the form. Yet you still hear a distant echo of Little Richard on “Lucille.”
For the most part though, BBK (which would be a better name, I think) is related to closer generations: a bit of ZZ Top on “Rigamortis”; Metallica on “Servant”; later Alice in Chains and maybe some Stone Temple Pilots.
So of course this is muscular rock not made for easy listening. More like shake a few brain cells loose during a live performance. But hey the album was produced and recorded by a guy named Achilles, ergo what else would you expect.
Five songs and about a quarter hour on this EP, available online, I’m sure, in all those places I don’t go to, as well as in CD format.
Also expect powerhouse drumming from Ryan Brown who squeezes in some well timed silences in the manic beating. Ryan Hanifl’s vocals sometimes seem derivative but he can surprise with emotional range on songs like the aforementioned “Building Walls” and “Kaleidoscope.”
Where Hanifl really shines, though, is on the band’s separate cover of Oingo Boingo’s magnificent tribute to “Wild Sex (In the Working Class).” A single, how about that, a single. Guess we’ll see more of that in the age of “all major digital stores.” Available now.
But what a recording. Super yearning, horny vocal. Guitarist Jason A. Mezillis (A for Achilles, see!) gets to do more than pound two chords fast. A fine little harmonica solo by somebody.
BBK “may be greasing the wheels of a noisy factory” — you know, Joni Mitchell might actually like that line — but with panache.
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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.