Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – BRMC (2001)

Originally released in 2001, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s self-titled debut came to fruition off the back of Peter Hayes’ departure from The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Confronted with the comparison BRMC would probably hate it, but the album owes a lot to Anton Newcombe’s unholy dirge of psychedelic sound. The difference between the haphazard collective and San Francisco’s own dirty purveyors is that the latter were largely held together, and that sense of direction is more than evident on their debut.

“Love Burns” clutters in as an untraditional opener and ends with an equally abrupt plonk of instruments being set down. If I were a more pretentious reviewer I would explain it as some Jonestown finale and a coming together of sense. I am not that reviewer, and so instead I’ll say: it lays out the theme of organised ramshackle that carries much of this release. As it turns out “Love Burns”, alongside following tracks “Red Eyes and Tears” and “Whatever Happened to my Rock’n’Roll (Punk Song)”, prove the most notable – but not the best – of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Those were the songs to feature on mixtapes, radio and dancefloor; the equivalent of today’s blogosphere. They are perhaps your favourites. And that’s understandable. They stand out in my mind too.

They’re not my favourites. Together with Hayes fellow constant member and front man Robert Levon Been really drive it home on “Awake” and “As Sure as the Sun”, less commercial but infinitely more interesting sonic excursions. These songs and every other track on the album often amount to the only noise you can imagine would pierce a heroin addict’s soul and send them back into a hazy orbit devoid of chemical intervention. Despite a constant scuzz to production, the adrenaline of BRMC’s frantic delivery peaks through at exactly the right balance to emulate the sensation Oasis tried to explain on “Champagne Supernova”. BRMC don’t need lyrics to convey their message, their guitars do it for them.

It may take a few listens to appreciate it, but Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of Compact Discussion’s great re-finds. Rubbing shoulders with some of the decade’s most outdated indie records and still standing proud in the face of its few competitors, BRMC are the band I’m glad to hear from the era, and their self-titled reminds me why.


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