Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Once upon a time, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club made the best anti-establishment, unrinsed rock sleaze available -- the perfect complement to a dawn wasted sloppily driving city streets in search of more drugs to prop up a fading high. With Howl, however, the scruffy trio ceases its jocking of Jesus and Mary Chain and Spacemen 3 to thumb through American musical traditions that predate rock and roll. Thus the bearded, yodel-y folk of "Devil's Waitin'," the yeehaw blues stomp of "Ain't No Easy Way," and the dour Sixties piano-pop of "Gospel Song" disarm, displaying a vulnerability and versatility that until now was hidden behind distortion and effects pedals; BRMC wears nonrock duds with surprising grace.

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Ray Cummings