Well, our noisy Leeds based friends Blacklisters are back again, following up their much acclaimed 2012 debut album ‘BLKLSTRS’. Forthcoming record ‘Adult’ certainly has a lot to live up to, and seems to have been some time in the making. Now under the care of Irish label Small Town America, previous hosts of bands such as And So I Watch You From Afar, LaFaro and Fighting With Wire, Blacklisters have certainly landed on fertile soil for their crop of angular riff rock. Let’s dive in!
The opening track, and first single from this album, is ‘Shirts’. I imagine Blacklisters fans everywhere letting out an exhale of joy when the drums land in and Billy’s particular brand of aural noise reminds you exactly what these guys are all about. I read an interview where Billy stated this tune is merely about shirts and how good they are. Yes Billy, we get it, but how about we look a little further. “I’m not messing around here. I set a good example”, is the main lyrical hook (apart from a lesson in how to spell shirt), and from this track it’s clear the band aren’t joking, and have just demonstrated what you can expect from these zany punk rockers.
Next we are hit with ‘Cash Cow’, and this will not disappoint people craving the heavier edge to their music. If Every Time I Die had sex with Shellac this is probably what the climactic moments would sound like.
With previous track titles such as ‘Trick Fuck’ and ‘Clubfoot By Kasabian’ (which isn’t actually a cover of ‘Clubfoot’, the song by Kasabian) I was delighted to see a song called ‘The Sadness Of Axl Rose’. What a bass sound, followed by clashing dissonant guitar lines with the drums stabbing accents that hit you harder than a ten ton hammer.
‘Big Ticker’ takes us into the dark under belly of the band, with slow sludgy riffing, and the ever tortured vocals from Billy bringing us to a crescendo of apparent madness. These guys just aren’t gona let up, are they? And me, the listener, could not be happier about it!
Another great titled track, ‘Weasel Bastard’, screams roots of Fugazi and Jesus Lizard. Droned riffs placed with very careful dynamics. Plus that time signature is to die for!
Right! This next track, ‘I Knock Myself Out’, I want to discuss nothing with you. Not a word (apart from the words I’m obviously using to express this sentiment). Open YouTube on your phone, laptop, tablet, whatever!!! And search for this song. You will find a live version, released as an official music video, shot at Greenmount Studios. To quote Janis from Friends “Oh…….my……GOD”! If I wanted you to like this album and you asked me to play you just one track, this would be it.
Again, with ‘Dream Boat’, Blacklisters display their incredible use of dynamics to illustrate a point. Your guitar does not need 14 distortion pedals. It does not need detuned to the 7th dimension of hell. It needs clarity, and room to breathe, and with that ideology you can still get your message across.
‘Power Ballad’? Not sure I agree there lads. Crowd pleaser? Hell yeah! These guys have played stages such as Reading/Leeds Festival and Beacons Festival in the past. This tune would go down a storm at a festival, or any venue for that matter.
A lovely glassy guitar sound opens ‘Priss’, Billy again weighing in with his story telling assault of vocals. Then….my favourite riff of the album. Heavy as holy hell, with Billy sounding like some part of him is caught in a vice! “I could have had it all”, he wails.
The album closes with ‘Downbeat’. It’s probably the black sheep of this family of songs, in my opinion. Doom style rock, not dissimilar to Goatsnake or Sleep, but it does work as a fitting end to what feels like a violent impact on the senses. Plus there is a lovely colourful, reverb soaked, outro that leaves you with a sense of fulfilment.
Blacklisters will not be everyone’s cup of tea. For most fans though, old and new, that’s the appeal. This is an outstandingly written, recorded, and crafted piece of art. More aggressive riffs than you could shake a stick at, yet still with a lovely element of vulnerability and personality to their music. I hear they’re gonna be on the road soon too? Bring it on