Thursday, December 9, 2010

Natural Born Killers

AGAINST NATURE – “Cross Street / Chasing Eagles” CD ’10(Blandhand, US) – You know what, peeps, there are certain things that just float my boat. Finding a crumpled up $ 20 in my pants pocket in the wash, that’s one. Waking up on “Friday” morning, starting to get up and realizing that it is in fact Saturday…yes! And finding a brown envelope in my mailbox from John Brenner. The first 2 are self-explanatory, so if any of you need clarification there, you need more help than this holder of a measly B.A. in Psych can give you. I’ll try to point you in the right direction on #3, though. See John Brenner is the guitarist/singer for Baltimore heavy music legends AGAINST NATURE & REVELATION and the fact of the matter is, anything either of these bands do is the freaking business. I’m serious, children of The Realm, everything this man has mailed me over the past several years has ruled and so have the ones he’s handed me in person. “Cross Street / Chasing Eagles” is no exception and I’m here to tell you why.

A little secret of the trade (which is actually no real secret at all) is that AGAINST NATURE and REVELATION are actually comprised of the same 3 guys: John Brenner – guitar, vocals; Bert Hall, Jr. – bass; Steve Branagan – drums. While the REVELATION face of this dual-sided monster plies the trade of melodic doom metal, AGAINST NATURE is a little more experimental…but don’t let that throw you! When I say experimental, I’m not talking about a bunch of nerds sitting in front of a couple banks of keys making noises, stroking their beards and saying “Perhaps….” Oh hell no. I mean experimental in the way that these guys will gladly explore all avenues of where a 3-piece rock band can travel, from Van Der Graaf style prog to Trower-style jamming. That’s part of the real fun in getting a new AN disc from John, seeing what these 3 cats have decided to get into this time…and knowing that whatever route they’ve taken, it’s gonna be a sweet ride. In truth, nothing could have gone down better on these ears than what happened when I put in this disc and hit “play.” In fact, so good is it that I think there’s only one way it could’ve come into being. Here’s my theory: One day John, Bert & Steve were hanging around in their practice place and after doing a 35 minute jam that would’ve made The Allman’s hang their heads in resignation, they decided to see what would happen if they flipped on the time machine John had made out of an old Orange Amp. Next thing they knew, they were standing in an undisclosed backwoods locale in Texas, circa. 1970. Immediately to their left stood a ramshackle lean-to and, whoooaaa, that lean-to looked nasty! In fact the whole scene was kinda scary so they began to amble back up the tire-track path toward what they thought was civilization when suddenly a voice rang out in the muggy air: “Hey, y’all, c’mon back now!” Standing outside the shack, battered Les Paul in his hand was a young fella named Billy Gibbons. “Y’all look like you’re in a band,” Billy called out in his Tejas drawl, “I got a few boys over for a beer & bar-b-cue! Wanna jam? This is Duane. Over there’s Snuffy…Snuff, you like that one I wrote about the Chevy, don’t ya? And that’s Jimi, he’s kinda shy but once he starts playin’, whoo boy! And there’s ol’ man Johnson’s kid, Eric…the 2 of them were fightin’ over that Strat before. Ha ha, let’s play some boogie, boys!” This went on for maybe a moment, maybe a day, maybe a year…until finally the time machine just seemed to kick into reverse on it’s own, depositing John, Bert and Steve back into their practice space in the Year Of Our Lord, 2010. Without another word and with a resolution only born of the most sacred inspiration, they knocked out this stuff you’re listening to now. The truth of the matter is that “Cross Street / Chasing Eagles” is classic bluesy hard rock on such a high level of massive fucking coolness that it could have only been conceived by guys who have both a complete understanding of the best from the past and the drive to bring it to the now. Love, care and craftsmanship in both songwriting and playing like this, and across so many great songs is something that has rarely been heard since the ‘70’s. This is music that is honest, real and above all a flippin’ blast to listen to…any time. The whipped cream and cherry on top of this slice of musical gorgeousity is John Brenner’s guitar work. I know I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. This guy is possibly the premier tone-master working today. Not only is he a riff-machine of nearly Iommian proportions, but the feel and quality of his soloing is staggering for a player working in today’s jaded environment. As with guys like Gibbons, Rory Gallaher, Leslie West & Andy Powell, he understands tone better than most could dream. A subtle move from one pick-up to another, the Gibson bite, the Fender creaminess…all those and everything in between live in these “grooves” (ok, I’m old-school, it’s not a record, I know!) and display the man as a brilliant player. Of course, it must be mentioned that Bert’s rolling, Geezer-inflected lead bass and Steve’s hard-yet-jazzy conversational drumming style do way more than just underpin Brenner’s six-string masterworks.

Is there music more enjoyable on the market than what happens when a new AGAINST NATURE disc tumbles out of that brown envelope? Not that I know of. My CD Can Beat Up Your Eagle Scout Ray Dorsey

1 comment:

P said...

:D I share your immense vintage brotherly love for Against Nature, Ray! Cross Street, Chasing Eagles and Drawing Arrows are in my top 10 albums of the past five years. These guys know what real rawk is! Tasty tunes that stick in my head... Revelation ain't too shabby--one of my faves in doom--but Against Nature is simply brilliant!