Thursday, February 26, 2009

Black Diamond Heavies Review

Black Diamond Heavies
A Touch of Someone Else's Class
There is something about the Black Diamond Heavies that commands attention. This two-piece monster, hailing from Chattanooga, TN/Louisville, KY, brings with it one of the biggest sounds out there, mixing together a concoction that is equal-parts blues, soul, punk, gospel, and gritty rock and roll. Together, John Myers and Van Campbell as the Heavies meld their musical influences into something that sounds like Tom Waits and Middy Waters presiding over a junkyard revival with a communion of corn liquor and razor blades. Their second album, A Touch of Someone Else's Class, tones things down just a smidgen bringing a more "Memphis meets Detroit" record. The music will still make your heart pound and the sweat pour, but will make the ass shake a bit more than their previous album. Not taking anything away from either, both are very unique and offer a different side of the Heavies, yet still maintaining their highly distinctive sound.

Released on Alive Records and produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, A Touch of Someone Else's Class, finds the Black Diamond Heavies embracing the soul end of the spectrum, with an album that grooves more and is not as bombastic as the previous. However, as with all of the Heavies' material, the sound is loud and overdriven and the music seems like it could break loose and get out-of-control at any moment. With the opening track, a rawkus version of Tina Turner's "Nutbush City", kicks the album into high gear. The Heavies also pay homage to several of their other influences with covers of T-Model Ford's "Take a Ride" and Nina Simone's "Oh, Sinnerman" which is one of the strongest points of the album, a very sparse track with an infectious eighth-note pulsation from John's keys. His voice is as gritty as ever on this album and his keyboard work includes more B-3 and upright piano along with his trusty old Fender Rhodes. Campbell's drums sound huge and thunderous as always and provide the perfect grooves and pallets for the songs to build upon. Other highlights include "Bidin' My Time", a slower reminiscent song in which Myers' voice melds into that of a heart-felt crooner and "Happy Hour", a piano-bar boogie that is the perfect end to the album that makes you want to raise your glass, hoot, and holler.

Alive records and the Black Diamond Heavies have done it again with some of the best material to date in 2008. The music is raw and the sound is bigger than most bands with twice as members as the Heavies. Anyone who is in awe of two-piece bands such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys need to give a listen to anything the Black Diamond Heavies have to offer.-Andrew Bryant

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