SOLEDAD BROTHERS "The Hardest Walk" Alive

Friday, March 31, 2006

SOLEDAD BROTHERS"The Hardest Walk"Alive

ORIGINALLY a Detroit neo-blues twosome that was inevitably compared with the White Stripes, the Soledad Brothers have expanded significantly, and not just in personnel. The band's new album, "The Hardest Walk," features four players -- only three officially Soledad sibs -- and a style that employs the blues as a foundation rather than as a straitjacket.

The album opens with a brace of bluesy rockers, "Truth or Consequences" and "Downtown Paranoia Blues," but these days that's not all the Brothers can do. Thanks in large part to singer-guitarist Johnny Walker's soulful delivery, the Soledads are just as convincing when they stroll as when they chug, and such psychedelic numbers as "Loup Garou" and the sitar-meets-pedal-steel "True to Zou Zou" show that, despite a major debt to Jagger-Richards, the brothers have also paid attention to Brian Jones's contribution to the late-'60s Stones. (The brief "White Jazz" suggests that the band has even been listening to Albert Ayler, or at least the first MC5 album.) Such eclecticism isn't enough to reinvent the blues-rock genre, but at its best "The Hardest Walk" does reanimate it.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Thursday at Iota with the Heartless Bastards.

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