Saturday, September 29, 2012

Black Pistol Fire - Big Beat '59

Let me shoot from the hip on this one. 

It only took one play to know this Canadian duo, by way of Austin, Texas, is something special. Blues-based with a classic garage rock feel and a tinge of country, guitarist and lead vocalist Kevin McKeown teams with drummer Eric Owens to provide down and dirty slide guitar and cymbal infested raunch 'n roll.

Their debut album, Big Beat '59, came about because Producer Jim Diamond heard them live and saw their potential.  He was absolutely right.  Diamond has produced The White Stripes,  The Von Bondies and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.  He happened on Black Pistol Fire at a venue in Austin.  The result is a full length CD, an onslaught of eleven glorious band written tracks of frolicking distorted guitar, edgy processed vocals,  and drumming excess.

The first track, "Beezlebub",  is a Muddy Waters-ish blues rocker that is followed by "Stripes or Keys", a much heavier rock tune (somewhere between Deep Purple's "Strange Kind Of Woman" and Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks").  Then comes a bouncing slide guitar bonanza of harmonics and drums with "Crows Feet", a song that turns down and dirty before it becomes up and frantic.  The tune "Busted & Blue" is an absolute rocker.  Cymbals explode, guitars echo, repeat, slide and rumble.  It is electric swamp blues at its finest.

Black Pistol Fire 's idea of a slow down is the more country-tinged rock ballad "Hot Mess".  Yet it resonates or, should I say, McKeown's resonator resonates.  From "Hot Mess" the duo moves on to explore hard classic blues rock with "Drop The Needle" a driving ear burner of the highest caliber.  The song "Young Blood" is a lilting early rock-influenced ballad and, for me, the least enjoyable track on the album but YMMV.  The two more than make up for it with "Bombs & Bruises", the most radio ready alternative rock offering that McKeown and Owens provide on Big Beat '59.  It slips from alternative to country to rock to country to pop - it's the ultimate non-cross-over cross-over tune. 

When McKeown starts "Lay Low" you know you are in store for a ride.  He yells, implores and pounds out heavy riff after heavy riff as he cautions "You better lay low."  The trip doesn't stop with "Lay Low". The heavy, heavy blues rocker "Slow Burn" continues you on this sonic journey.  The album comes to an abrupt end as Owens’ syncopation skills get a work out on "Dead Love",  a song on which McKeown resorts to an acoustic guitar.  This final track comes off as an extraordinary Page and Bonham-esque modern sharp-edged "Misty Mountain Hop."   

Just like Black Pistol Fire, this album is smokin'.   You should definitely give it a shot.

- Old School

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