The Blakes – s/t

I changed my mind about this thirteen track debut from New England trio The Blakes more than once, and a lot of this had to do with album opener “Two Times” which is a full-on primeval stomp interspersed with rattling percussion and hoarse screamed vocal. Add to this a naggingly abrasive and repetitious guitar riff with which to hold the track together and “Two Times” is certainly an attention grabber if nothing else. It doesn’t sound much like the rest of the album though. And it sounds very little like next track “Don’t Bother Me”, an altogether less desperate sounding number which benefits from some incisive rhythmic guitar and drum interplay, practically the actual opposite of the track which precedes it.

With third track “Magoo” all three Blakes are getting properly into their stride. It’s a gritty swagger of a track based around an acoustic riff which showcases a brilliantly offhand piece of soloing and some recognisably Stones-ish backing vocals. In fact, every track on the album contains a cleverly used or hidden reference to where The Blakes draw their inspiration from.

So, The Blakes first album is quite blatantly the sound of a talented trio of blokes rolling around in their favourite riffs without the slightest concern for their audience. Now, fewer bands than attempt albums such as this ever really make it work, and The Blakes own joie de vivre carries them over the more obvious pastiches and rips.

But do not dismiss The Blakes as mere copyists. Tracks such as “Magoo”, “Run”, my own personal album highlight “Commit” and final track “Streets” are obviously the work of a band who not only know how to write songs that don’t actually sound like anyone else’s work but are actually quite good at it. So what if The Blakes haven’t quite perfected their “own sound” whatever that’s supposed to mean, this CD contains one or two actual minor classics and everyone who reads this should hear at least one track from it.