Friday, July 10, 2015

Stubborn Son's Birthright on CD

What are the young 'uns listenin' to these days? If my mailbox is any indication, good old-fashioned '70s blues rock is the hot ticket in 2015. It seems like the last handful of CDs I've received from new bands are firmly rooted in the traditions set by Zep, Cream and Hendrix, with dripping hunks of reverb and squirrely doses of feedback set off by minimalist production values, all packaged up and delivered by that most venerated of music machines--the power trio.

Stubborn Son, a Seattle version of said outfit, makes no apologies about its simple yet blistering approach to the blues catalog on their new CD, Birthright. While most musicians who pay homage to purist rock tend to filter their output through a modern, somewhat ironic context (Black Keys are a firm and fine example of this), Stubborn Son is as raw and naked as it gets. Stripped down and full of swagger, Garrett Lamp (guitars, vocals), Andrew Knapp (bass, vocals) and Blair Daly (drums, vocals) are merely on stage to let it rip, to crank things up a notch higher than everyone else.

The album's opener, "The Broken Heart Proof," comes on like classic Cream, loose loud and unafraid to kick out the jams. "Catch Me Runnin'" opens with a gargantuan and meaty beat that will trick you into thinking you're listening to a cover of "When the Levee Breaks" until Garrett Lamp's vocals drop in with all that garage band fuzz you might have heard in that house down the block in the neighborhood where you grew up. And if that opening slide riff on "Thick as Blood" doesn't remind you of Page, or at least Jack White, it's time to watch It Might Get Loud one more time.

While the overall sound quality on Birthright isn't designed to let you hear every last nuance during the recording sessions, it does capture a lot of the more human contributions to the songs--lots of fingers dragging on strings, lots of amp noise, the buzzing of snare drum heads--all those things you'd hear at the club. That's because Martin Feveyear at Jupiter Studios in Seattle recorded this album with a minimum of overdubs. That gives Stubborn Son a chunky, authentic sound that might remind you of a lot of your favorite groups from thirty or forty years ago. The fact that those durned kids are into this kind of music is just icing on the cake, and maybe hope for the future.

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