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Blake's Souvenir

Reviewed by Daniel Bindschedler

Rock 101: The Truth about the Blakes' new album Souvenir and what you need to remember!

Lesson 1 - A sad confession: The Blakes are a little tough to listen to. Not because they sound bad; no! The Blakes are actually hard to listen to because calling them the successful heirs to counter-culture rock bands form the 60's and 70's, particularly the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Ramones, and the Clash, would be a bit of an understatement. And, after listening to more than a few of the Blakes songs from their forthcoming album Souvenir, it's a violent struggle not to rush off to the nearest record player to blast “London Calling,” or “Raw Power” by Iggy Pop. However, those that manage to stave off the nostalgia, or curiosity (for the younger audiences) will find themselves subject to sassy hard-luck lyrics, quick paced '60s sounding guitar rhythms, and hounding locomotive drumming that will do the late Keith Moon proud.

Lesson 2 - Similes and Metaphors: There is a montage of scenes in the epically rock-tastic “School of Rock” film starring Jack Black in which Black's character presumably demonstrates a righteous lineage of Rock 'n' Roll bands on a black board. Meanwhile, as Black fills little tykes' heads with intricate ven diagrams and flow charts of gutbusting pop-culture crushing Rock 'n' Roll history, the Ramones' “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” rages on like a narrative voice-over. In an alternate universe where this scene is extended, or rather, in any Rock 'n' Roll history seminar, the Blakes would be an exemplary band with which to illustrate the influences of the British Invasion and pioneering punk rock bands like Iggy Pop and the Ramones, in America. With their new album, Souvenir, set to hit stores in early october, the Blakes are demonstrating to the world that not only do they know their roots, but that they can rock harder than an advanced seminar on Algebraic Topology at MIT.

Lesson 3 – The Test: Almost every one of the songs on Souvenir seem to carry a distinguishable element of influence from previous instructional rockers; get those No. 2 Pencils ready to take notes! “Dog of Sin” is a dark love-scorned track with crunchy Velvet Underground guitar chords and spiteful Rolling Stones lyrics. The vocals sound like a torn and bloody page out of Mick Jagger's play book.
Tommy, with an insolent kick / snare driven drum beat and brooding bass under broken working class 8th notes from the guitar, sounds like an homage to the Clash lacking only in the angry blue-collar Brit department ( or is that where the reference to William Blake comes into play) . And, even on their myspace page, a befuddled Iggy Pop is quoted as saying ''Who's this? This shit is good!' The reference is an undoubtedly apt choice because “Batista,” the ante-penultimate track on the album is a mark of Iggy's undeniable influence in rock n roll.

Final Exam: Any one sick and tired of the mainstream drudge will eat this album up, get an A on their hearing test, improve their whistling skills, appreciate the oldies and, without a doubt, want more Blakes! Souvenir is ultimately a concept album composed of musical relief for tired and hungry rockers feeling lost in a world full of electro-indie-fuzz-pop and miles and mile of cookie-cutter pop stars.


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