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Voice of Treason

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Album Review

While suddenly every garage rock band in creation has started wailing the blues, the Soledad Brothers, who've become one of the leading lights of the roots-punk movement, have decided to try a different angle in their stripped-down blend of raw rock and raw blues on their third studio album — and first major-label project — Voice of Treason. While singer and guitarist Johnny Walker, percussionist Ben Swank, and multi-instrumental point man Oliver Henry haven't changed their style much at all on Voice of Treason, they're adjusted their approach, going for a more restrained attack and a cool, late-night vibe on several of the tracks; "Sons of Dogs" is a low-key and languid country blues-styled number, the sensual "Only Flower in My Bed" flows slow and deliberate like a river, and "Lorali" suggests a citified version of a Skip James tune. Of course, the Soledad Brothers do their share of rockin' out as well, especially on the Stones-style leadoff, "Cage That Tiger," the gospel-fired "Lay Down This World," and the swaggering "Ain't It Funny," but while more than a few bands would go out of their way to see how raw and ragged they could make this music, the Soledad Brothers have opted for a more measured attack that's sweaty and soulful but also conscious of the roots of this music, and the album strikes a balance between rock & roll aggression and the more subtle but intense focus of classic blues. Producer Liam Watson (of Toe Rag Studio) produced most of these sessions, and his old-school analog work ethic gives the album an inviting warmth without getting in the way. If you're looking for a wild blues party, Voice of Treason isn't quite it, but if you want to hear musicians who can respect their influences while kicking it out, then the Soledad Brothers are right down your alley.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Maumee, OH

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The dark blues duo Soledad Brothers began in early 1998 after guitarist/vocalist Johnny Wirick (a.k.a. Johnny Walker) asked drummer Ben Smith (a.k.a. Ben Swank) if he wanted to play a show. Since then, they have recorded for Detroit's Italy Records and Bellingham, Washington's Estrus label. Wirick and Smith's partnership can be traced back to their days in the Toledo, Ohio blues group Henry and June, which existed from 1994 until 1996. After that group broke up, Wirick continued playing with drummer...
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Voice of Treason, Soledad Brothers
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