Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rocktober Album #15: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (2009)

Behind hair band music, I think my second favorite genre of music might be classic '60s soul. There's a neoclassic soul movement afoot, with artists like Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Ray LaMontagne, and Eli "Paperboy" Reed leading the charge, each pulling influences from different genres. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, in my opinion, come the closest to capturing that Stax/Volt sound, but they also add their own flavor to it. They have an eight-member band, complete with a horn section. Lewis has a great voice. It's kind of like James Brown and Otis Redding mixed with Dan Auerbach. I would describe their sound as a combination of garage rock and classic Memphis soul. It's awesome.

Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! is the band's first full-length album, and it was produced by Jim Eno of the band Spoon. It's energetic when it needs to be, bluesy when it needs to be, and tongue-in-cheek when it needs to be. There isn't a bad song on the album.

The band played at the Sheffield Garden Walk street festival this past summer here in Chicago. I went with the intention of seeing them, but Daughter had other ideas. We were standing pretty far back, but she started to lose her shit after a couple songs, probably because it was hot as hell and we wouldn't give her any beer. She'll learn soon enough that I hold grudges.

Half of the songs are on, so I embedded the songs that were available below. For the rest, click on the link to the album above, which will take you to Amazon where you can hear samples of every song and subsequently buy the album.

1. Gunpowder
The album starts off with a twangy guitar and some organ, then about ten second in, the horns kick in. The song is fast-paced, simple, and straightforward, and it gives you a nice glimpse of what you're in for with the rest of the album.

2. Sugarfoot
This is just classic soul. If you didn't know any better, you might think Booker T. & The MGs and The Memphis Horns were playing on this track. This song is energetic and catchy as hell.

3. I'm Broke
This song is more bluesy, and has a distinct James Brown feel to it. The keyboard really shines in this song and keeps everything going. It's one of those songs that, when you're listening to it, you involuntarily bob your head. And then maybe you bite your lip. And then maybe you close your eyes or furrow your brow. And then you're playing air bass in your office when your boss walks in.

4. Big Booty Woman
This song not only has an awesome name, but it has a nice '60s garage rock feel it. The organ riff is catchy, and the tambourine is always a nice touch. It ends with a nice jam.

5. Boogie
"Boogie" is exactly what you would expect from a song with that name. It makes you want to run in place. The horns really drive this one, and there's a muted guitar you hear every now and then that kind of rocks while trying not to let you know that it's rocking, until the guitar solo. All in all, this is a really good, energetic song.

6. Master Sold My Baby
This one is kind of a take on the "Mary Mary, why you buggin'?" melody. There is somewhat incomprehensible lyrics, followed by a dark bass line and a twangy guitar. Sometimes I play this album around the house. Daughter will be crawling around, but she'll stop whenever the bass line kicks in and do the closest thing she can do to dancing, which is to sit down and move both of her hands like she's turning two giant dials back and forth.

7. Get Yo Shit
I like this song a lot. It kicks off with a garage rock-y organ. Then it's kind of a half-spoken word song that kicks into gear in various places, kind of like George Thorogood's version of "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." The song recounts a tale of some crazy woman who throws the narrator's shit on the front lawn because she thinks he doesn't love her, but he does, but she's still crazy. Even after he spells her name correctly, things go south.

8. Humpin'
This is an instrumental song with solid horns and organs, and those choppy soul guitars. It's good for love makin'.

9. Bobby Boshay
It's unclear if this Bobby Boshay is in any way related to the former South Central Louisiana State University waterboy and linebacker Bobby Boucher. I'm guessing not, since this Bobby Boshay is described as a "mean dude."

10. Please Pt. Two
This is a fuzzed-out song where Lewis pleads for something. Perhaps that was explained in part one.

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