Texan trio Night Beats are one of the most exciting bands to come out of America since the heady days of grunge. Their brand of 13th Floor Elevator-esque psych R&B has been turning heads on the underground in the UK ever since the release of their critically acclaimed second studio album, ‘Sonic Bloom’, was released in 2013. Pockets of the US have been wise to their reputation for feral live performances since their formation in 2009. But ‘Sonic Bloom’ is where they really made their mark and went on a world tour.
One person who was wise to their whereabouts during this tour was Jeff Barrett of Heavenly Recordings who has recently signed them and released this album. He went up to Liverpool's Shipping Forecast during the 2014 Liverpool Psych Fest on a night that Hooton Tennis Club - who are also now signed to Heavenly - opened for them. Discussions began after that performance but it wasn't until Night Beats sent this album, ‘Who Sold My Generation’, over to him, that it sealed the deal, giving Night Beats a much deserved increase in exposure for something they've been doing well for years.
This new album, though, does see them raise the bar - it's more special than Sonic Bloom – in fact, it's one of the best guitar albums you'll hear this year. The first cut to be released was the politically charged 'No Cops', which refers to the deaths at the hands of the police force in the US. It's refreshing to hear a band stand up and say something about injustice in an era of increasing docility.
It's not all social commentary, though. Blackwell reveals a very personal tale of anguish in 'Right/Wrong', which traces the crumbling of a previously strong relationship due to his touring: “What is wrong with you / I can not reply / You don’t need to learn / It’s always in your mind”. 'Bad Love', which nods to The Black Keys, would make a great soundtrack to a Tarantino film thanks to its added brass section, deals with love gone wrong. Elsewhere, 'Last Train To Jordan' is like one of Jim Morrison's most tripped out moments mixed in with The Gories' guitars.
The sound of ‘Who Sold My Generation' owes a lot to Robert Levon Been of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who perfected the two-inch-tape authenticity at his analogue recording studio in Los Angeles. The band tracked everything live (apart from the odd overdub) and have crafted an exhilarating, hedonistic modern psych album that means the album doesn't just pay homage to a lot of the great influences mentioned, but sounds just as good.
Words: Cai Trefor
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