Dust covered blues rockers Down and Outlaws are one of the best bands out of San Fransisco. They’re comprised of Peter Danzig, Kyle Luck, Chris Danzig, and Jon Carr. Their first ep Backwards from the Dead dropped back in 2014 and immediately painted the raw, broken toothed blueprint for what was to come. That rawness and fire has been rekindled and slightly cleaned up for their 2016 debut album Above Snakes. It has to be noted this was recorded in one week’s time. That extraordinarily short amount of time would lead most to think of this as a sloppy, barely held together mess of an album; but Down and Outlaws show their talents by giving us a frantic, raw, powerhouse. Like a bloody and bruised biker gang leader flowing with enough charm, character, and brutality that you’ll be more than willing to listen to the tale of the fight that proceeded.
The entire album has a garage rock energy that permeates every song beginning with “Roll that Stone”. It opens the album when a frantic beat that ceaselessly marches on, never letting up. “I Don’t Care(I Don’t Care)” is a sprawling, reckless anthem for true creatures of the night. “Lay Me Down” may have quiet opening that slowly builds its wonderful guitars, that are contained by the drummer with the precision of a lion tamer. It’s about at this time that I notice each member perfectly compliments each other. Everything fits. Everyone is keeping everyone in check. The Stooges are summoned for “Fever” not just in energy Clashing with a vaguely androgynous take on a night out at a bar. “Ways She Rolls” drips with blues psychedelia as each note flows seamlessly into the next. A tale of lust and drugs has been wondrously woven for “Backwards from the Dead” which features a harmonica solo that may impress the loneliest inmate serving a life sentence. “Gone”, my personal favorite, sees the softer, almost reflective, side opening up with these mesmerizing effects that are dizzying perfect in execution. This embodies the effects of finding a peace of mind from a bottle or whatever you choose. Perfectly ending the collection of stories is even more somber “Every Time I Use You”. A folk blues drenched in that amazing harmonica, true heartbreak, liquor, reefer, and regret. Some sad bar patrons you can’t wait to get away from. And some you want to live vicariously through. This is the latter.
And at the end of this album filled with rough around the edges playing at ever turn I realize something. This a filth themed collection of stories. These are the stories you’re not proud of. These are the stories of a life that’s interesting to hear about. Drug fueled and brutal. Everything fits perfectly.
Rock on. Live your life. Remember your bruises. A clean life will never be as interested as a life covered in blood, sweat, and excess.
Richard Murray, Pow Magazine
rdmurrayiii at gmail dot com
UPDATE, 07/14/2016: Pow Magazine’s video review and music coming next week on Pow Ello!