BlackBrew Blasts Off with Debut CD

Written by on July 15, 2010 in July 15, 2010, Music Reviews - Comments Off on BlackBrew Blasts Off with Debut CD

Self-titled release pours out hard-hitting tankard of home-brewed satisfaction

BlackBrewBlackBrew is a young Southland band that infuses the head-banging gratification of good old hard rock with a progressive sensibility that makes its mark and leaves a favorable impression. Led by Kurt Loun on vocals and propelled by the percussive talents of drummer Mike Ikona, the band recently rocked Hollywood’s Key Club right before glam/sleaze legends L.A. Guns took the stage, and those whose appetites were whetted for more of BlackBrew’s insistent metallic stew can now be appeased by the group’s just-released debut CD. Eponymously entitled “BlackBrew,” the new disk delivers ten well-crafted compositions, designed to rattle rafters, stir pulses and spur reflection.

An opus that opens with “Morbid Rage” and concludes with “Conflict Within” might well bespeak an angry, embattled attitude, yet the CD is not all gloom, doom and double-kick devastation. Bone-shaking beats give way to innovative breaks and inviting melodies, framing thoughtful lyrics that often seem to seek answers rather than to remain mired in depression. Yes, “Morbid Rage,” the vigorous first track, is indeed fast and furious, featuring intense, determined vocals from Kurt along with flashy fretwork from guitarist Bill Lima, backed by Matt Samadian’s solid bass. Yet the subsequent song, “Last Chapter” is more heartily grungy than thrashy, and is sweetly enhanced by a versatile singer named Joanne Allen. Appearing on seven of the CD’s tracks, Joanne sometimes croons or soars in counterpoint to Kurt’s relentless delivery, and at other times she vocalizes in unison with him, creating an appealing choral texture. BlackBrew’s sound is replete with variety, as heard, for instance, when the ringing chords of “Breath” give way to a choppy, aggro rhythm, or when “In Loving Memory” commences with a jazzy salad that rapidly turns funky and chunky. In that song, a mesmerizing mood is first set by Joanne’s bewitching vocals, and then Kurt brings the beef. Contemporary social commentary comes through in “Society’s Whore,” wherein observations on legalistic hypocrisy make the listener lean in to catch the nuances of the lyrical indictment. Then, at the melodic outset of “Black and White,” Joanne sings of a billion hands reaching up to the accompaniment of peace songs, yet the image ironically turns to “every aching fist in the sky.” The song is partly tuneful, partly crunchy, flavored with a punchy urgency that contrasts the bygone memory of flower-powered pacifism with a more current call to action, promoting the point that somehow, positive change is still possible. “I Am The One” also makes an energetic statement, while “Why Me” has a somber power-ballad momentum that leads to a shredding conclusion. Following the ominous complexity of “Said,” the grunge-flavored drive of “Conflict Within” wraps up the record, wailing off into the night with a pulsing tribal riff.

Bill’s guitar leads are spicy and engaging throughout BlackBrew’s freshman effort. Production is consistently crisp, tastily highlighting Mike’s precise drumming and Matt’s strong bass, while keeping the capable vocals of Kurt and Joann coming through loud and clear. But the band reports that in the time since the band’s Key Club gig with L.A. Guns in June, Bill Lima and Matt Samadian have gone their separate ways, amicably. It is also noted, though, that reinforcements are already in place for BlackBrew’s upcoming CD release party, to be held at the world famous Whisky-a-Go-Go on Saturday, July 31st. Attendees at the show will have the chance to see a reformed and reinvigorated BlackBrew lineup, featuring not only Kurt, Mike and Joanne, but also new members Jimmy Ash on guitar and John Guy on bass.  Mike and Kurt have said that a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into the making of BlackBrew’s premier recording, and similar energy will be no doubt be expended to bring the band’s masterful mix alive onstage.