"Voice of Treason"
"High Life High Volume"
Detroit's Soledad Brothers don't need to rely on famous friends (the White Stripes), kindred spirits (bluesman and former MC5 manager John Sinclair) or frequently made comparisons (the Stones and the Clash top the short list) to grab your attention. One spin of "Voice of Treason," a noisy, raw-boned roots offering, is all it takes.
Don't look for much finesse or originality here. The Soledad Brothers cover a lot of well-trod turf on their new CD, like a garage band that has been cooped up too long, directly or indirectly paying tribute to John Lee Hooker, Skip James, Elmore James, the Doors and others in the process. Frontman and vocalist Johnny Walker's guitar, slide and electric, occasionally buzz-saws through the distortion-heavy mixes, while some Deep South atmospherics, replete with falsetto crooning and gospel-charged call-and-response riffs, nicely augment the band's fearsome and often passionate attack. On the downside, the trio can't resist the temptation to indulge in tiresome self-promotion, starting with the Hooker-riffing boogie "Elucidator," and some of the group's attempts to loudly and proudly evoke its influences only leave you feeling hungry for the real thing.
"High Life High Volume," the latest release by the Forty-Fives, doesn't exactly come across as high-concept by comparison, but it's certainly brimming with vibrantly rooted rock. The Atlanta-based quartet has introduced some new colors and textures this time around, adding horns, harmonies and synth to the mix. But as "Go Ahead and Shout," "Superpill" and a tambourine-shaking cover of Otis Blackwell's "Daddy Rolling Stone" amply illustrate, the band's innate charm, energy and cleverness still shine right through.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Sunday at Iota. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Soledad Brothers, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8125; to hear the Forty-Fives, press 8126. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)