Black Rebel Motorcycle Club rides to live, lives to ride | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club rides to live, lives to ride 

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click to enlarge Black Rebel Motorcyle Club

Black Rebel Motorcyle Club

James Minchin

After a mixed reception for their 2008 instrumental album The Effects of 333, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club seemed to be on a stabler course with the addition of Leah Shapiro, who took over the drum throne from Nick Jago. Unfortunately, it’s been a truly rough decade for raucous San Francisco rock band. In 2010, bassist Robert Levon Been lost his father, Michael, who was also the band’s sound engineer, to a heart attack during a festival in Europe. In 2014, Shapiro underwent brain surgery and physical rehabilitation for a cranial malformation. So it’s a testament to their strength that we have their new eighth full-length, Wrong Creatures, at all. They aren’t riding out on any limbs here; it’s a return to form after their moodier-than-usual but still potent Specter at the Feast (2013). BRMC have always sounded a bit out of place for their time; their throbbing, rhythm-heavy rock ’n’ roll could have been made at any point within the last 30 years—which is both a weakness and a strength. The dark-toned psych ballad “Haunt” sounds a bit like very late Sisters of Mercy, and “Question of Faith” has a little White Stripes swagger. The band have long specialized in finding a smoky strutting groove and riding it into the sunset—and it sounds like their grooves have carried them through some very hard days indeed.   v


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