Top 5 Contemporary Blues Rock Bands That Don't Totally Suck
Our sister blog, West Coast Sound, has caught a lot of shit lately for their disdain for neo-blues rockers The Black Keys. Just remember we're only critics, and opinions are just opinions. Nicholas Pell even offered up some alternative blues bands for you to dig. The problem is, as commenter AlexNicely pointed out, none of des blues bands are 'round no mo'. Pell responded with, "I couldn't make a list of five contemporary bands in that genre I like, but someone else probably could." Hey, that someone is me!
Them Crooked Vultures
Granted, I like The Black Keys a good amount and don't give a shit if they're "hipster" music or not, just like I don't give a shit if music is "bro" or "gangsta" or "mod" or "punk." If it's good, it's good and I dig Dan Auerbach's use of metaphor and his grimey guitar riffs. But that only goes as far as the band's last two albums, which Danger Mouse produced. Maybe I have an unnecessary bias toward the Gnarls Barkley producer or maybe everything before Brothers sounds like crappy Muddy Waters rip-offs with less production quality than a My Bloody Valentine cassette put through a dishwasher.
That said, maybe Black Keys isn't your cup of tea. If not, give these five bands a try. In my view, these five blues fiends far outweigh The Black Keys and even The White Stripes or the Dead Weather and unlike Cream or Stack Waddy, you can actually see these bands in concert relatively soon.
5. Black Mountain
Here's what happens when you blend grunge with chewing acid gummy bears. Technically, Stephen McBean's band only "draws" on blues rock, lending more to psychedelia and Led Zeppelin than B.B. King or Howlin' Wolf. But plenty of tracks from Black Mountain's discography, especially off their latest, Wilderness Heart, evoke a sense of classic blues without seeming contrived.
4. Them Crooked Vultures
Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Nirvana's drummer Dave Grohl and Queens of the Stone Age's guitarist Josh Homme? Yes, please. This supergroup's one and only album may have sounded mostly like QOTSA, but guided by Jones, it went much further than Homme's original project, touching on metal, psychedelia and most notably, heavy blues undertones.
There's said to be a second album in the works, so now that Grohl is putting the Foo Fighters on ice, Them Crooked Vultures will stop by a town near you.
3. Dead Meadow
Like Zeppelin, Dead Meadow share an adoration for Tolkien and it bleeds through their wizard-like guitar rifts. It takes you on some sort of dark quest like that Johnny Depp movie Dead Man. And it's bluesy as fuck, too. It's simple and straight-forward, just like the blues should be, but that extra tinge of psychedelia will blow your mind, too.