CD: 11 Songs, 45:45 Minutes
Styles: Acid Blues, Avant-Garde Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs
“Yeah, we play acid-blues. What are you lookin’ at?” So states Boston’s Bees Deluxe in their promotional materials for their new album, Voice of Dog. For a better description of their style, BluesBlast’s own Rhys Williams said that it’s “…what might happen if Freddie King took a lot of acid then wrote a song with Pat Metheny and asked a strung-out Stevie Ray Vaughan to take a solo.”
Williams also described their music as “challenging.” That it is beyond a doubt, but it’s going to take a highly-perceptive audience to peel back all the psychedelic layers and find the blues core. Echoes of Steve Miller and the Dire Straits hooked Ms. Wetnight, a Xennial (X’er/Millennial), but some of the songs on this CD puzzled her beyond belief (“Flat Earth Conspiracy,” “Industrial (espionage)”). Conrad Warre’s vocals are dry and sardonic, reminiscent of Mark Knopfler’s. He doesn’t really sing as much as he comments, his oeuvre weary of the postmodern world.
Voice of Dog was produced, recorded and mixed by Joe Egan and co-produced with Warre, the band’s guitarist. He’s joined by Carol Band on keyboards and vocals; Allyn “Aldo” Dorr on bass, and Patrick Sanders on drums and percussion. Special guest musical appearances include Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt on harmonica, Colin Rosso and Paul Giovine on drums, and Tad McKitterick and John Smith on background vocals.
None of the songs on this album sounds like traditional blues, but at least the one below speaks of a traditional subject: a bluesman’s favorite beverage. It’s catchy and easy to sing along with.
Track 02: “Beer” – Sometimes, no matter how much you like someone’s company, adult refreshments are called for right away. “I want you, but I need a beer. I need you, but I want a beer. It’s cold outside and I need a beer.” Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt’s harmonica is the clear highlight of this song, putting listeners in a party mood whether they have a cold one in their hand or not. Also hot is Conrad Warre’s guitar, melodic but not overpowering.
Bees Deluxe says that they’re “dragging the Chicago blues of the ‘60s and the Blue Note instrumental catalog kicking and screaming into the 21st century.” For those who prefer their blues with a digital twist and lots of outer-space angst, Voice of Dog will fit the bill. For those who like this genre to stay where it generally has been, however, Bees Deluxe doesn’t offer too much honey.