Current Blues (y)

In addition to writing about older music, I want to keep the blog fresh by keeping as up-to-date with the current music scene as time allows. So periodically I’ll refer to ‘current’ music but the bands I talk about may not necessarily be new per se. But they’re still out there doing it. If you’re looking to me for what’s really au courant, forget about it. I can’t hardly keep up…

I called this post “blues(y)” rather than blues because I think these bands are as much influenced by garage rock or punk as much as they are blues. And they also don’t appear to be given necessarily to the twelve-bar blues format or even straight guitar solos.  You probably know most of these bands so I just wanted to note that blues, blues/rock and swamp/funk/R&B is still very much alive.

  • Jack White – He first arrived as a member of White Stripes back in the early 2000’s. They had a pretty intense bluesy sound but White was equally influenced by punk bands. Of the LA band Gun Club, White said, “Why are their songs not taught in schools?” I don’t know man. I’ve listened to some of Gun Club’s stuff and frankly, it’s good but I’m not that blown away. But it’s remarkable what they could do using just two instruments: guitar and drums.  White Stripes as a unit is no more. But here’s a great song that’s less blues and more just flat-out garage rock:
  • Radio Moscow – I first heard these guys on satellite radio. I liked them and immediately made a note of the song. Their web site says, “Trends come and go, but the idea of a bunch of guys getting together in a garage and playing the kind of music that makes the neighbors call the cops — that’s forever. And it’s that idea that’s crystallized in the form of Radio Moscow.” Turns out that Dan Auerbach of Black Keys produced their debut album. I love the feel of this song:
  • Alabama Shakes (pictured at top) – Not sure exactly how to characterize this group. Call them a gumbo of all of the things I’ve been talking about – blues. soul, rock, R&B, funk, etc. They have a nice, swampy laid-back thing going on. The lead singer/guitarist – Brittany Howard – has a gritty, soulful voice. According to Wikipedia, she “took inspiration from Bon Scott of AC/DC in her singing, praising his “soulful” way of singing.” To me she sometimes sounds a little bit like Tina Turner:
  • Black Keys – Another guitar/drum combo doing an updated version of the blues. Jack White has had some issue with these guys, saying they ripped off his sound. Well, I don’t know. They do have the same instrumentation. But to me they sound different enough to be distinguished from his sound. Where White is a musical madman, these guys seem to play it straight down the middle. But in a good way: