Poor Billy

Brother Wake Up

Written by: PP on 11/10/2011 03:10:09

Poor Billy's third album "Brother Wake Up" is a curious release not because of what it sounds like, but because where it originates from. You're just not used to hearing a band playing authentic Americana or bluesy rock from outside of the redneck-infested areas of Alabama and Oklahoma (etc), or at least not in as convincing manner as these Århusians do throughout the album. Although their take on the genre is not as 100% hillbilly rock as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, for instance, their blues-inspired expression is rock in the classic sense of the genre description, utterly disconnected from what is popular within the style in 2011.

But that isn't a noteworthy problem because Poor Billy have set out to do exactly one thing with "Brother Wake Up": to write an album which is perfect for setting a particular kind of casual-listening mood. It's not hard to imagine songs like "Shut Up Baby Please" and "Union Carbide" providing the proper sleazy background ambiance for a card night, or for a guys' evening dedicated to tasting a few quality beers and that sort of thing. If that's really the case, then the album must be judged as a resounding success: 'roots rock', as the band likes to call their style, doesn't come in a much more believable package than Poor Billy, at least not from Denmark or from any of the surrounding countries.

However, it begs the question to be asked: does it have wide enough appeal to function as more than just a mood-setting record for specific kinds of evenings? Does it have enough content to fulfil your needs as a modern music fan in 2011 when all you want to do is to pop on a set of quality headphones and enjoy a great rock record? Though a few songs are certainly on par with what Nick Cave's projects deliver from time to time, I would argue that it doesn't provide enough of a relevant backdrop for anyone else than the most dedicated hillbilly rock fans...and those are hardly found in Europe, let alone Denmark. So I'll leave you with this: Poor Billy are convincing and good at what they do, but "Brother Wake Up" doesn't answer the question all albums must answer to last beyond the usual 1-2 week listening cycle: why should we care? As of now, the style is too retrospective and irrelevant to matter to music fans today, no matter how well done the actual expression may be.


Download: Union Carbide, Halleluja Riverboat
For the fans of: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Black Science
Listen: Myspace

Release date 23.05.2011

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