It’s amusing – or frustrating, depending on one’s current mindset – that hype can latch onto a band faster than stink to a corpse. A few months ago, Blues Control were but another noise group slogging along the club circuit and releasing micro batch cassettes. Now, with records out on Woodsist and Holy Mountain and a months-long accumulation of blogger ejaculate, the group is positioned in one of the top spots on many summer ‘must hear’ lists. (They’ve also been on the receiving end of some sweet publicity via underground music’s most underappreciated hype machine – the band t-shirt. Getting some belly time on an established rocker, as BC did when Ben Chasny sported their tee on the cover of Signal to Noise, is an instant unit mover – Daniel Johnston, well, should understand.)
Luckily, even in these hype-hot times, where Pitchfork’s news section has become the People Magazine of the hipster set, what it comes down to at the end o’ the day is whether the band can rock their shit harder than the critics can lick their lips.
Fortunately, BC’s debut full-length is deserved of the slobber. The Queens-based duo’s name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the instrumentation – guitar, piano, harmonica, drums – that the band employs. Yet, while at heart the disc is a collection of rockers and ballads, the sound has little in common with either rural African American laments or the blooze rock pumping from countless roadside sippin’ stations at this very hour.
There is a humidity that hangs over the album like a New Orleans nighttime. Russ Waterhouse’s guitars/electronics and Lea Cho’s keyboards sound hot and waterlogged whether they are roaring through serious riff-noise ear-tear such as the eponymous opener or laying down smooth trip-tronica, a la “The Blue Sheep.”
“Boiled Peanuts” gets the badge for being the album’s strongest cut, a swaying groove of dubbed-out percussion, lofty piano chords and spiraling locks of fuzz guitar. “Migration” features jazzing tinkling over a chesty keyboard drone that bubbles into a harmonica-accented fever swell. It’s a stewed Americana not unlike Matt Valentine’s recent work with The Bummer Road.
The minute-and-a-half of “Double Chin” features guitar freakery beamed live from the dark side of the garage. Closer “No Sweat” is Royal Truxian junkie slosh smoked up, looped and aimed to obliterate.
How else would you want your blues?
By Ethan Covey