From the label who first thrust The Black Keys into the world comes this debut album from Birmingham, Alabama native Lee Bains III. Rather than peddling white man’s faux-blues, however, Bains and his band deal more in soulful country-rock (with a little bit of roll thrown in for good measure). That may sound terrible on paper but, in reality, it’s not quite so bad.
Certainly, Ain’t No Stranger and Centreville, the first two songs on this record, are inoffensive jams that bluster along in a raucously refined manner, while Magic City Stomp! owes much to those well-known appropriators of the blues, The Rolling Stones. But on the soulful 70s swagger of Everything You Took and the dusty, gentle country melancholy of Reba, there’s a glimmer of the real heart behind this album; it’s one that, when it does appear, has a powerful effect. Righteous Ragged Songs in particular, with its Band-esque melody, is a noble tribute to the influences that feed into Bains’ music, even including a (somewhat surprising) nod to post-hardcore pioneers Fugazi. But too often those influences are merely replicated, rather than used as a foundation on which to build, diluting Bains’ own personality.