Soledad Brothers – Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move

Soledad Brothers
Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move

The Soledad Brothers is a trio of three white guys, originally a duo, named after a group of black felons who were gunned down in the 1970s while attempting to escape from Soledad Prison in California. Those men became revolutionary heroes of the black power movement, and though the three men keeping the name alive through music may never achieve quite as high a status, they sure seem to have a lot of fun rocking out like the world is their garage.
Stripped down and barebones in appropriate fashion, Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move is a very raw blend of lo-fi garage rock and trashy blues. What grabs your attention first is the swagger of Johnny Walker, part preacher and part dirty rock-and-roller. He sets the vocal wailing aside from time to time for instrumental breaks and harmonica solos, and he is also credited, along with newcomer Oliver Henry (piano, guitar, saxophone, vocals) for the swanky guitar licks. Speaking of swank, drummer Ben Swank keeps things moving at a steady pace, sometimes slow and swaying, sometimes fast and furious, refusing to play around with anything too complicated but keeping your toes consistently tapping just the same.
Like any band heavily influenced by the blues, The Soledad Brothers blends bits and pieces of original material with some that is borrowed from roots and influences. No band these days is entirely original, but this is the sort of sound that has been evolving for ages. For example, the guitar line from “Break ‘Em On Down” was inspired by Mississippi Fred McDowell, while the lyrics are half original and half Big Joe Williams and Sonny Boy Williamson I, with one verse being borrowed in its entirety. Many of the cuts are rough interpretations of the music that has come before now, which lends to the rootsy and organic vibe that flows throughout the album.
For name-dropping purposes, the first two tracks on Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move (“Princes Among Thieves” and “Prodical Stones Blues”) were produced by Jack White of The White Stripes, whose living room served as the recording space for the band’s debut; five others were done by Detroit producer Jim Diamond, who has worked with The White Stripes, Dirtbombs, and The Go; and the others were polished by Ruben Glazer and the band. The recording costs supposedly totaled about $400, and it certainly shows, but the resulting roughness around the edges suits this down-and-dirty style just fine.