It's not a secret that this whole retro movement in the worlds of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal has been an absolutely God sent for my musical palette. For so many years now, probably 20 or more, the ONLY band I've had to hold onto when I wanted new music from a band who's influences were steeped into the days of the late '60s/early '70s "war anthem" hard rock sound has been The Black Crowes. Every disc from them has been welcomed because it always accurately captured that spirit from a time that's long gone in music. Lately though, there's been a great many bands that have emerged and just have made my own personal listening experience better than it's been in years. SpiralArms and Scorpion Child were, without question, my favorites last year. Here at the halfway point of 2014, the runaway winner is Blues Pills. This soulful rock record is the very best thing to come across this desk this year, as it's as close to flawless as a disc can be.
So just what makes BLUES PILLS so great? Vocalist Erin Larsson for starters. While she gets a lot of comparisons to Janis Joplin, I don't think that's a completely fair description of her. She has a much better pure voice than Joplin ever exhibited. Her voice is clean and powerful. That said though, that emotional power that made Joplin a legend is so perfectly captured by Larsson throughout. Listening to songs like "River", you can't help but be mesmerized by her enchanting, engaging voice that just sucks you right in. On the same song, she's perfectly enhanced by some dirty rock slide-guitar provided by guitarist Dorian Sorriaux. He's truly great throughout this entire disc, primarily because he's not a shredder as much as a mood setter. His playing on songs like "No Hope Left For Me" just perfectly compliments Larsson. These two work perfectly together, with each setting up the other and both needing the other to complete the sound they are going for. While not comparable soundwise in any way, the way Larsson and Sorriaux work as a team on songs like "Devil Man" or "Ain't No Change" is very similar to the way Plant and Page worked their magic on songs like "Dazed and Confused" or "Since I've Been Loving You". Listening to songs like "Astralplane", you just find yourself grimacing and feeling the blues groove as they grind out yet another special track. Simply put, BLUES PILLS is an amazing release.
PITRIFF RATING - 100/100 - Easily the best release I've heard in all of 2014, and certainly a disc that will never leave my iPod, BLUES PILLS is one of those very special discs that comes along every once in a great while. Through two EPs and now a full length release, they have been nothing but perfect to these ears. This is without question one of those bands I'll be begging for new material from constantly. It's retro. It's cool. It rocks. It has soul. That alone makes it better than 99% of the stuff released today. To make the obvious and lame joke, Blues Pills is auditory Viagra. If you listen for more than 4 hours, call your doctor immediately. A word of warning though, you might need to keep your phone handy, because they are THAT good.