Night Beats – Outlaw R&B review

The backstory to Outlaw R&B reads like a passage from some dystopian novel: an recent emigre to Los Angeles from his native Texas, Danny Lee Blackwell arrived at the time wildfires were raging unchecked in the desert, a plague had forced many citizens inside and the forces of law and order were up all night in their whirlybirds watching the chaos grow.

As Night Beats – once a band, now pretty much a solo venture – Blackwell has always mined the garage rock, psychedelia and darker pop fringe of the hippie 60’s, in particular bearing witness to fellow Texan Rocky Erickson. If his/their last album, the Dan Auerbach produced Myth of A Man veered tentatively towards gritty period soul, this latest is a return to the liminal spaces between what is real versus a bad rendition of the American dream.

In places there’s a visceral rawness – Hell In Texas, Crypt – that recalls the unwholesome country and primordial blues of rebels such as Johnny Cash and Tav Falco, but there are also chinks of light on opener Stuck In The Morning, whilst New Day feels like the work of a Spaghetti Western Scott Walker. If watching it all burn is more your thing however, the buzzing finale Holy Roller is perfect to smoke that last cigarette to. Outlaw R&B is tough enough to walk the empty streets, so you don’t have to.

You can read the full review here.