Smile Politely

BRMC Tonight at The Canopy Club

The genre tags on Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s MySpace read “Indie/Psychedelic/Alternative.” Rarely do these meaningless little signifiers communicate so effectively a band’s inherent dilemma. Peter Hayes, Robert Turner, and Nick Jago have spent their career as a band sort of gingerly straddling these three genres and the attendant fan bases, resulting in a somewhat muddled oeuvre marked by moments of transcendence, but also a persistent hesitancy. They never quite go the whole nine yards in any one sonic direction, and one result of this tendency has been mercurial and occasionally awkward departures from album to album. They always seem a bit too self-consciously stylized for the indie kids, a little too rough for mainstream alternative, and nowhere near as oddball as hardcore psych fans would require. The result has been a band that is constantly on the radar, but who no one can really claim as his or her favorite. Perhaps it’s in the name.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s music has never conveyed the irony or audacity that such a ridiculous moniker probably requires. BRMC’s previous album, the underrated Howl, came closest to coherency in its sublimation of the band’s noisier Creation Records and JAMC leanings into traditional blues and country tunes. They managed to avoid the trite affectation such a familiar move might imply by penning solid songs. Baby 81, the band’s latest, sounds at first listen like a drunken step backwards into more traditional, straight forward alterna-rock, replete with slick production, lazy song structures, and a lyrical focus characterized by lines such as “suicide’s easy / what happened to the revolution.” Yowzers.

BRMC performs tonight at The Canopy Club, 708 South Goodwin in Urbana, at 9 p.m. with The Duke Spirit opening. The show starts at 9pm and admission is $15 in advance.

More Articles