Black Earth - Pink Champagne
Treading similar ground as many southwestern rock bands tend to, Texas' Black Earth have an apparently rich history of ups, downs, and various in-betweens. From the sound of Pink Champagne, all I can truthfully say about the individuals involved is that they sound like they have a helluva good time making music together. There's a jam-ish nature to some of these tracks that brings to mind some of the old Desert Session albums, and the tone and texture of the gravelly, bone-dry rock Black Earth spits out is just as apt in comparison.
This group is at their absolute best when chugging forward, letting their aggression do the talking. They falter in a way when they lean back and ride on a more gentle breeze. There's nothing wrong with the softer spots of Pink Champagne, mind you. Songs like "Dear Lady Lean","Her Song", the title track, and "Single Stitch" are pretty decent and straightforward ballad-esque tracks, but they hinder the flow and they distract the listener from the true grit of the album. The muddy, filthy grooves of "Face Down In A Gutter", the up-tempo, melodically sound and hook-infused "Livin' And Lovin'", the fantastic guitar work of "My Private Hell"...these are the reasons you're going to dig in and enjoy Pink Champagne. Another constant distraction is the fact that, lyrically, Black Earth are very much simplistic. Whether or not this matters to you is ultimately a matter of taste, of course, but it matters to me enough to mention it. The song titles do plenty to explain (warn?) of the lyrical content within. The only saving grace here is that frontman Jason Calise (aka Ving Ra) sounds honestly pumped up and excited about the words, injecting a rough and salty amount of sage-like experience on what are otherwise overly simplistic and over-analyzed themes and subject matter. But there are still times when even he cannot save a train wreck... while "She Don't Want It" is probably the best song on the album, the lyrics are not. Attempting to rhyme Atlantis with Bananas? I appreciate the "I don't give a fuck" spirit, fellas, but there's always something to be said for creative control.
So, for the average listener, Pink Champagne has more than enough to satisfy those hungering for a fix of some classic southern hard rock, with varies in influences from ZZ Top to Kyuss and many points in between. The more abstaining and, dare I say, nit-picky amongst us will probably be too caught up on the details to fully appreciate what's going down here. Black Earth are a solid band, and they've done a damn good job in putting together this record, but I'm waving a white flag and realizing I may be alone in doing so. It's almost, but not quite, my kinda thing. But don't take my word for it; check it out, and let me know what I'm missing!
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