Let me start out by calling myself out: it’s a damn travesty that it has taken me this long to write about this unbelievable album. I’ve been listening to The Bright Light Social Hour for a little over a year now, on the recommendation of a certain frontman of a band named after hired London autos. In fact, ‘Shanty’ made my Best of 2011 list earlier this year. The Bright Light Social Hour is real deal, old school, rock and roll with an eye toward the future.
Hailing from the musical hotbed of Austin, TX, The Bright Light Social Hour obviously has some stiff competition in their hometown. And when you consider the wealth of ridiculously talented artists that migrate to Austin for the annual South By Southwest Festival, then you can really appreciate the amazing feat that they achieved by taking home 6, count ‘em, 6 awards at the 2011 SXSW Music Awards, including the coveted Band of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year.
In case any further rationale is needed for you to go track down their self-titled debut album, I’m happy to oblige. Simply put, this album is a party in sonic form. Mixing a high-energy brew of southern rock, blues, funk, soul and even some dance and disco sensibilities, the album is built to make you move. ‘Shanty’ is the lead track and single (13,000+ plays on Soundcloud) and comes out with some nifty keyboard melodies before guitarist/vocalist Curtis Roush lays down some ripping slide guitar lines. ‘Bare Hands, Bare Feet’ follows and is a romping, stomping, anthem of massive proportions. ‘La Piedra De La Iguana’ is born out of ‘Bare Hands, Bare Feet’ and is a wicked little gem of a groove, featuring some killer work on the keys from A.J. Vincent and some more stellar work from Roush. ‘Detroit’ is one of the bigger tracks of the record, bringing out the more soulful side of the group. ‘Back and Forth’ is the fastest track on the record, featuring a disco-inspired bass line from Jack O’Brien and a lightning-quick lead guitar riff. ‘Garden of the Gods’ is the opus of the album, and perhaps the perfect representation of the band, deftly moving between old school jammery, soulful ballad, and uplifting anthem. In short, it’s 10:00 minutes of heaven. The album is rounded out by the instrumentals ‘Men of the Earth’, ‘Men of the Sea’ and ‘Rhubard Jam’, which if nothing else, only prove the point that this a ridiculously tight band that packs more than what appears on the surface of their party-rock personas.
Mark my words (and a lot of other well-respected people’s words) – these guys are going to be big time. Between their musicianship, insane live show and already rabidly loyal fan base, there is no slowing down for Curtis, A.J., Jack and Joe. Do yourself a favor and be sure to catch them live while you can still catch them in smaller venues. It won’t be long before they’re headlining sold out ballroom shows. In fact, we’ll give that a year.
Lucky for you, TBLSH is on tour this Spring/Summer. Dates are HERE.
Get your copy of the self-titled debut record HERE.
4.5 Stars – Mick