There are so many bands out there that are extremely underrated, it should be a crime. One band in particular, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is a prime example of that. Formed back in 1998 by Robert Levon Been and Peter Hayes, they have released seven studio albums in that time and in 2018 will release their long awaited eighth album. When the band begun they had a more “hard rock n roll” sound but over time they truly found their own niche by incorporating psychedelia, space rock, shoe gaze, blues, alternative rock and even a bit of folk. It’s not surprising to see those elements in their music considering they are influenced by bands like The Velvet Underground, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Love and Rockets, The Rolling Stones, T Rex, The Call (which featured Robert’s father Michael Been), and Lou Reed.
From the moment their self titled debut was released, BRMC has played by their own rules. Never a band to compromise their art and music, they really have made a name for themselves not just with great albums but with a live show that is at times hypnotic and full of passion. When their first album came out many critics lumped them in with the emerging “garage rock” sound that was blowing up which featured bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes. Though I don’t think they ever really belonged in that. The second album Take Them On, On Your Own was a bit of a departure from their debut. It was a harder and darker sounding album and also featured a bit of a political tinge to the lyrics. When Howl, their third album was released in 2005, BRMC had changed yet again by adding a more bluesy/folk feel to their music. A lot of “critics” loved the change in sound and said that it was “an innovative departure” for the band. Personally, I dig on Howl but, it’s not where the band really found their stride. 2007’s Baby 81 is one hell of an album and where they truly left their mark. This album featured a harder, more raw sound as well as some of the most profound and poetic lyrics since their debut. Their 2010 album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo was a statement album for the band. This one featured a more straight ahead rock approach while also incorporating a new drummer Leah Shapiro who took over for Nick Jago, who left to pursue a solo career. Their 2013 album Specter At The Feast was a bit of a solemn album and sort of a tribute to Robert Levon Been’s father Michael, who passed away following a heart attack. Michael had also been working with the band as their live sound tech, producer and sort of musical mentor. The songs released from their upcoming album Wrong Creatures are remarkable. It has been about five years since BRMC have released a new album and this new one is shaping up to be quite the album for the band. Every one of the bands albums has something special in them. They are the epitome of rock n roll.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club live a few times over the years and they never disappoint. Instead of having all the glitz and glamour of a bombastic rock show, they rely on the music to guide you through the show. Usually draped by minimalist lights, the band really knows how to deliver that feeling of intimacy and vitality. When BRMC comes through your city, I strongly suggest you take the time to go see them and witness a truly great and underrated band.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Albums:
Take Them On, On Your Own:
Beat The Devil’s Tattoo:
Specter At The Feast: