For a few weeks now I've been letting you guys know that I've been taking a bit of a break, recharging my batteries and creative senses, and you all have been more than patient with me. For that, I do thank you all, as I know how much a pain waiting can actually be.
As we speak, I'm sitting here in a chair, on the balcony of a hotel in Destine, Florida, overlooking the beach and waves, but after hearing this new band, I feel like I'm right back in the grind of the machine, scraping the grit of the road. This group brings me home to Atlanta, to Memphis, to L.A., and to every other city with a grind that just takes it right out of you. Today's stars of the South, the North, and everywhere in between are Blackwater James, a sick blues-rock/hard-rock quartet from Nashville, Tennessee. But don't let that fool you. These guys might have a bit of a twang, but it's got hard grit and attitude, and the guitar solos just melt your face down to your shoes, which themselves are burned into the ground. These guys (and girl) could probably drink Ted Nugent under the table, and even if they couldn't, they sure sound like they can hold their own against the Cat Scratch King.
Composed of Christopher James (lead vocals and guitar), Deanna Passarella (guitar and vocals), Josh Burns (bass and vocals), and Todd Schlosser (drums and vocals), Blackwater James delivers a mace-lined punch to the gut that bleeds influences from Zeppelin, Sabbath, GN'R, and AC/DC.
Now I'm not pretentious enough to think I discovered these guys first, though I'd be thrilled if I did. No, these guys have been the subject of many other articles and reviews, but that's okay, it just means that they're getting the recognition they rightly deserve. According to their Myspace page, Blackwater James is currently putting the final touches on their debut EP which should be out sometime this summer, but that's just too far away for me, so I'm gonna talk about their sick tunes right here and now. Buckle up, it's gonna be a trip.
The first song the comes at me from the speakers is "Midnight Train." This song just drips Southern swagger and hard-rock balls and attitude. Anyone out there who thinks that chicks can't be as hard-rock as any guy, get in line for me to smack you, because Passarella's fretwork is top-notch, and locks brilliantly with James's hardcore blues riffs. If everything else sucked, this song would still rock like hell thanks to the raging guitars. But everything else doesn't suck; it all rocks. James's vocals are smooth and powerful and meld harshly and fantastically with the others' backing tones. Among James's and Passarella's pickslides and warp-speed guitar solos are Burns's bass and Schlosser's drums. Both powerful forces to be reckoned with, Burns's bass just stomps you in the eardrums and throat until you cant seen straight, while Schlosser's drums just totally decapitate the rest of your senses. "Midnight Train" is just a totally sick song and automatically my favorite from the beginning.
Track two for me is "Stone Cold," a song that, like the previous one, relies heavily on a hardcore guitar riff to carry you through four minutes of madness and rock. Though the title reminds me vaguely of the Queen song, whose title is similar, these guys are no Queen ripoffs. This shit is pure, straight-up rock and roll. I love James's vocals, and the way his and Passarella's guitars deliver an AC/DC-inspired series of licks just leaves me salivating for more. Burns's bass is pounding hard in the background, and picks up pace to provide a stage for James's voice as Schlosser's drums fade just slightly, but for good reason, as a shining solo shoots through the speaks and lodges itself in my brain. Five stars, easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.
The last song for me right now is "All Fired Up," and by the time I get to this one, that's what I am. This song is simple hard-rock brilliance. Just a "havin' a good time" track that's a must for any roadtrip or concert, "All Fired Up" is similar in make to is predecessors: just hardcore guitar riffs, ripping vocals, and crashing drums on top of pounding bass lines. This song is just all around good rock music.
I'm going to stop myself there, because if I go on any further, all I'm gonna do is spoil the rest for you guys, and I'd hate myself for that. Go check these guys out. They're hardcore, sleazy, gritty, and right from the street and bar scene, and their music shows it. If you like anything AC/DC, Zeppelin, of Guns N' Roses, you won't be sorry for taking time out of your day for these guys. Better get to 'em now, because six months down the road, they'll be as big as Buckcherry and Puddle of Mudd. No way in the world the won't be. Hard-rock is still alive and kickin', and it now goes by the name Blackwater James.
Sounds Like: Buckcherry, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Puddle of Mudd, Airbourne, Guns N' Roses
Key Tracks from Blackwater James: "Midnight Train," "Stone Cold," "All Fired Up," "Rock Steady," "Wake Me"
Check out Blackwater James more at: http://www.myspace.com/blackwaterjames and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blackwater-James/22646240861#!/pages/Blackwater-James/22646240861?v=info