Skip to main content

Music Review: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears new album Scandalous

I'm just starting to shake myself out of a lifetime of subborn resistence to contemporary music, and in that process, I've discovered Black Joe Lewis. Other than hearing a few of his songs here and there, his new album "Scandalous" is my first prolonged exposure to this group.

For those who don't know, BJL draws on every variation of blues (Texas, Chicago, jump, etc.), a good deal of James Brown-style soul (lots of horns), with straight, old-fashioned guitar Rock n' Roll. Their sound is reminscent of (at times) James Brown, Sam n' Dave, Eric Clapton, Buckwheat Zydeco, and a souped-up Stevie Ray Vaughn, with each track taking on a different on a subtlely (sometimes not so subltely) different flavor.

In fact, the tracks on this album vary pretty widely from the up-tempo opener "Livin in the Jungle," to the slow and sultry "I'm gonna leave you." To the downright James Brown-ish "Booty City," to the Lenny Kravitz-ish title track "She's so scandalous," to the Delta Blues influenced "Messin," to "You been lying," with a riff that sounds eerily like The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Parallel Universe," to the track "Since I met you baby," which sounds straight out of southern Louisiana Zydeco.

BJL & the Honeybears display a wide range of musical talent on this album, however, the lyrics are pretty standard blues-fluenced stuff. "Baby, I'm gonna leave you," etc., etc., etc. And frankly, the music lacks innovation in any sense of the word. BJL seems like a band that's really, really good at copying many different variations of blues and soul, but I don't see anything here that advances music.

Having said all that, the album is really fun to listen to, and musicians don't have to be innovating all the time for them to be relevant. I definitely plan to look further into BJL's discography and see what else is there. Meantime, this album will stay on my CD player/computer for the immediate future.


Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review #146: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Issue: May 9, 2016

Story: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Rating: $

Review: I feel like this is a somewhat tired technique, straight out of Creative Writing 101: write a story consisting of three or four different snapshots or snippets out of a character's life at different ages, sort of like a series of written photographs. Fun perhaps, but strikes me as a bit amateurish. However, I also think L'Heureux succeeds here by pushing it a bit further, playing with the character's tentative attempts at something close to faith -- in childish, adult, and mature adult ways -- and tying all three "Short Moments" together in a subtle and readily decipherable way.

L'Heureux's prose and his frank humor and his ability to glorify and find the meaning in the mundane events and thoughts of every day life, and thereby turn the life of an ordinary person into a drama with meaning and significance puts me in mind of John Irving. As well a…

New Yorker Fiction Review #151: "The Bog Girl" by Karen Russell

From the June 20 issue...

My loyal readers (if there are still any, which I doubt) will know I'm usually not a fan of Magical Realism, which, as you may also know, is Karen Russell's stock in trade. That said, there's nothing I love more than having my antipathy for magical realism shattered by an awesome story like "The Bog Girl."

Briefly, an Irish teenager discovers the body of a young woman who as been buried in a bog for over 2,000 years and begins to date her. What more do you need, right? If I'd read that one-line description somewhere else, and wasn't on a mission to review every New Yorker short story, I doubt I'd have read "The Bog Girl." But maybe I should start doing a George Costanza and do the opposite of everything I think I should do.

Where Russell succeeds here is in two main areas: 1.) Making us really love Cillian, the teenager who falls in love with the bog girl, and 2.) pulling the unbelievable trick making the characters…

Water Review: San Pellegrino 250ml Bottle

Damn you, tiny little bottle of San Pellegrino. So little. So cute. But what are you really good for other than to make me wish I had a full bottle of Pellegrino? 
Good as a palate cleanser after a nice double espresso, I will give it that. But little else. The suave yet chaotic burst of Pellegrino bubbliness is still there, but with each sip you feel the tragedy of being that much closer to the end of the bottle, that much faster.

This is a bottle of water made specifically for the frustrated, for the meticulous, for the measurers among us with a penchant for the dainty. This water does not love you in the wild, on a sunny porch or with the raucous laughter of friends. No...much the opposite. Whatever that may be.

Best drunk in tiny, tiny sips, while forcing oneself through an unreadable and depressing Russian novel one does not want to read but feels one should, on a cold, wet day in December that promises four months of gloom and depression...or in pairs or threes and poured over …