Black Bear

Rock From the Woods

Written by: BW on 28/05/2014 00:25:15

From the first moment I put Black Bear’s album on; I knew I was in for something a little different from the usual. Some properly grainy, almost good ol’ boy styled country stuff screeches out the speaker before we start to get what is more expected. Ready to greet you are some punchy drums and a cow bell with a death wish, alongside what seems to be the band’s calling card (almost like they’re going for a record of how many times they can mention their brand in less than 5 minutes) but in a good way. When the first track is called “We Are Black Bear” though, you can forgive them for getting their plug in. Over the piece you get a feel of an almost Airbourne music style and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with that, as long as you’re into a specific section of rock, but then you buy albums like this because of that fact.

The first track makes way for “Balls Out (Down)” which is your quintessential rock and roll song. It flies along at “THAT SPEED” which when you listen to it you will know is the velocity that any decent paced toe tapper goes at. It’s almost like there was a specific tempo made for this area of the musical world, but every time it’s used, it works and as much as there is a LOT of word repetition again, it delivers on the fun factor.

The only thing that starts to worry me a little is that by the time I get to song three (“Rock From the Woods”) I get a feeling that this isn’t so much a case of repetition for the sake of doing it, but more like there isn’t enough creativity in the lyrical side of things. Again we have long sections where the same thing is said over and over again. I can understand it for the odd track, but that’s three in a row where you could have technically had it on loop for two minutes and not notice. Repetition is for choruses, gentlemen, not the whole back end of a tune.

“Dancefloor on Fire” does pick things up a lot better though. I do have to say that the actual instrument side of things has been fine up until now, but it is now where the song writing at least catches up. This is the best example of what rock and roll should be. A nice spritely track with some good riffs and a decent hook of a chorus makes you feel happier. I think as stereotypes of a genre held together by AC/DC and duck tape go, you can feel that this is sticking to the rulebook passed down through the generations.

Sure enough, when you move onto “Never Easy” you get that slowed down ballad that must be a part of any album of this type. It again does what you expect and does it well. It seems to be that there is a high quality in some aspects of this album as a whole, but the problem is that the other parts do let it down when they get either a bit lazy or just lacking in inspiration.

As the rest of the album plays out you do get to hear some pretty good stuff, which makes you think that the start of the record should have been that little bit different, mainly because the feeling of ‘been there, done that’ detracts from some of the good stuff on here. “Ghost of You”, “Time” and “Asked Me Out” are the three best tracks here and they’re all near the end. If they’d spanned these out a little more then I think the FEEL of this album would be just a little more better, if not certainly better balanced. “Asked Me Out” in particular has the melodies, drum and bass fill as well as the audience participation sections in there. It just shows that when Black Bear get it right, they do it very well.

I think the only thing you can say is that “Rock from the Woods” is a good album held back by an almost expected tradition of a certain genre. When the guys add their own flair and try to buck the trend just a little it seems to add some depth to it all, but this album has a feeling of playing it safe, which is understandable from the point of business, but it does feel like some of the passion has gotten lost a little, which makes me sad. It is accomplished musically in many areas, but it is let down in others by a slight lack of inspiration resulting in an album that slightly leans towards the good side whilst it sits on the fence. At least if they’re in the woods, they’ll have enough trees to make it while they contemplate being let loose for a follow up.


Download: Ghost of You, Time, Asked Me Out
For The Fans Of: Airbourne, AC/DC, The Darkness, Status Quo

Release date 10.03.2014
Mother Fuzzer Records

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