The Black-Eyed Snakes – Rise Up

This is a side project for Alan Sparhawk of Low, allowing him to branch out and let his blues-rock talents shine under the nom de plume of “Chicken-Bone” George. The band pays homage to the roots of rock n’ roll but injects a little punk rock feel to give it a different bend and energy. The Black-Eyed Snakes also throw in their own touches with vocal distortion giving the vocals a lot more bite. Sparhawk calls in some help from many of his friends and labelmates who add a lot to the songs they are featured on. The disc has roots in the early- and mid-60s garage-rock scene, but they keep it more original and fresh than most of the other groups out there in this vein.
This disc gets off to a truly rocking start with some punishing and strong blues-rock that would fit in perfectly with the early output of bands like The Rolling Stones and rougher bands of that era. “Rise Up” and “Foresight” are very raucous and get your blood going; the former is a tough straight-ahead grind with a very powerful performance from the rhythm section, and the latter is filled with shrieking guitar and has a hazy psychedelic blues feel. These two songs complement each other very well, and they set you up for the rest of the songs to come. “Good Woman Blues” has a strong and slow down-home groove with “Chicken-Bone” George shouting the lyrics through a cloud of vocal and guitar distortion.
“Cornbread” carries a deeper blues feel than most of the other tracks here with hypnotizing guitar playing and a chanted chorus. This song has a really down-home approach with some great slide guitar, and it is just such an amazing hypnotic performance that is hard to put to words, just incredible. The cover of “Bo Diddley” keeps the spirit of the seminal original but ads some spice to this classic blues tune. They keep the shuffle rhythm and snarl of the classic, but the guitar sounds much angrier and “Chicken-Bone” George spits out the vocals with vigor. They pay their respect to one of the great blues man and rock pioneers very well here, and they do it with a lot of spirit and love.
This bunch of musicians from Minnesota clearly knows how to get that down-home feel of the deep south and delta blues. They add a dose of originality to the proceedings, creating some stunning songs that are mind blowing in their energy and power. They find a rolling groove and stick with it, truly alive and living in the spirit of some incredibly music that came before them. This disc is full of raucous solid blues-rock sounds, and if it isn’t anything revolutionary, it is extremely fun and energizing. Give this disc a go if you want a wonderful party disc or just something to kick back and have a good time with some great music.