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Specter At the Feast

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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Album Review

With 2010's superb Beat the Devil's Tattoo, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club found a balance between their muscular, fuzzed-out noise rock and rootsy if no less punk-inspired take on American blues and country. The trio, now featuring singer/bassist Robert Levon Been, singer/guitarist Peter Hayes, and drummer Leah Shapiro (who joined for Devil's Tattoo), seemed to have matured into a fully realized version of its younger self. BRMC's seventh studio album, 2013's Specter at the Feast, takes this musical maturation even further, as the band delves into a moody, sustained, and long-form dream pop aesthetic. Much of this introspection is most likely inspired by the loss of Robert Been's father, the Call frontman Michael Been, who suffered a heart attack and died backstage at the 2010 Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium. As BRMC's touring soundman, Been was an invaluable source for both creative and professional advice, as well as an inspiring, loving force in the group's life. The loss, understandably, hit BRMC hard and, purportedly, they wondered if they could continue to make music without him. Thankfully, they ultimately decided that they could, and if the music on Specter at the Feast is any indication, they became a stronger, deeper, more commanding band for the experience. Michael's presence permeates all of the songs on Specter at the Feast, with lyrics that clearly find the band toiling with the loss. On "Returning," Robert sings, "A part of you is ending, a part of you holds on," and later, "But you must leave and not turn back, knowing what you hold/How much time have we got left, it's killing us, but carries us on...carries us all." However, the album isn't solely an introspective one. On the contrary, cuts like the bluesy "Hate the Taste" and the defiant "Teenage Disease" prove that BRMC have lost none of their rock & roll snarl. That said, the album, which is dedicated to Michael's memory, will most likely stand as the band's most bittersweet. Perhaps the best example of this is BRMC's cover of the Call's 1989 hit, "Let the Day Begin." Poignant yet triumphant and joyful in tone, the cover, as with all of Specter at the Feast, stands as both a heartfelt tribute to their bandmate and a rallying cry for moving forward.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The seed that became Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — or BRMC for short — was planted in 1995, when Robert Levon Been (aka Robert Turner) and Peter Hayes met while attending high school in San Francisco. The two formed a solid friendship and a shared camaraderie based on a mutual love of early-'90s U.K. bands like Ride, the Stone Roses, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine. Despite such similar tastes, both joined different bands — Hayes spent time in the Brian Jonestown...
Full bio

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