(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recording review - Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires, There is a Bomb in Gilead (2012)

A soul screaming message from the depths of the dirty South

Don't worry about the pun in the title, this is anything but a comedy album. This is a country rocking, blues wailing, soul screaming message from the depths of the dirty South. Lee Bains III (ex-Dexateens) charismatically gnashes, moans, and croons his way through a rich, earthy mix of songs. While the tracks on There's a Bomb in Gilead shift genres, Bains' voice and his vise-grip tight band maintain a consistent all-or-nothing attitude to drive every song.

In Centreville, Bains proclaims:
If you hear any bleakness from me and the boys
We're over educated and we're under-employed
But they're anything but bleak. This double time Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern rocker drives forward with unstoppable energy. A couple of songs later, on Choctaw Summer, the Glory Fires offer more of a laid back, Allman Brothers groove. The interlocking leads don't get quite as intricate as the Allmans, but the mesh is perfectly soulful.

The heavy hitting songs like the anthemic Magic City Stomp! propel the album, but it's the softer moments that truly show off the band's range. The sad and sweet country folk of Roebuck Parkway, the swaying gospel of the title track, and the soulful blues of Everything You Took are every bit emotionally moving as the foot stomping rockers on the album. Bains' desperation and loss bleed through over the touches of Soul Man pedal tones on Everything You Took:
You can keep my Walker Percy
You can keep that t-shirt my brother got the time he saw the Ramones
But just a little small piece of your sweet mercy
That's the dearest thing I've ever known
The juxtaposition of literary and pop culture references shows off the band's complexity.

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires are almost certainly more intense band in the club, but There is a Bomb in Gilead is an amazing album that stands on its own.

For another sample, check out Righteous, Ragged Songs on Soundcloud.

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