Alive Naturalsound Records

Independent record label based in LA. Home to The Black Keys, Two Gallants, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Hacienda, John The Conqueror, Brian Olive, Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, T-Model Ford, Thomas Function, Waves Of Fury, etc. More at

Thursday, September 4, 2008


5 stars

“We Came in Peace” is the best real rock ’n’ roll record of 2008.

It just happens to come from Nebraska’s very own Brimstone Howl.

A massive assault of garage punk honed to perfection by legendary Detroit producer Jim Diamond, the disc takes the propulsive, big-beat, big-hook, fuzzed-out Brimstone Howl sound to a new dimension, rarely pausing for breath in its taut, slithering attack.

Diamond, who has worked with The White Stripes, The Dirtbombs and The Henchmen among others, puts just the right touches on the music — a keyboard here, lots of echo there — and singer John Zeigler has written his best set of tunes yet.

Those songs shift from sci-fi weirdness, as in the trip to the nuclear city in “Hero of Gold,” to the dramatic spoken-word tale “The World Will Never Know,” which starts out sounding like autobiography but turns out to be a creepily romantic story of a loner who gets himself shot by the law, and “USMC,” about a guy signing up for the Marines.

“Obliterator,” a bluesy slide through the jungle, is followed by the psychedelic“Summer of Pain,” with Nick Waggoner’s guitar going wild against a driving beat that spins keyboards into the mix. Then things roar away on the sexually charged “Bye Bye” that hints of the Stooges.

“Catamite Blues” is, in fact, 21st-century blues, a futuristic screamer with Zeigler shouting about seeing blood in his veins and Waggoner’s guitar twisting the old sounds into something fresh and new.

But, as always, Brimstone Howl isn’t afraid to wear its influences on its sleeve, touching on the Cramps on the greasy, harmonica-driven “Child of Perdition,” the Velvet Underground on “Easy to Dream” and a little Ramones-tinged power pop on “A Million Years” (OK, it has guitar solos and the Ramones never did, but who cares?).

Brimstone Howl has been one of my favorite bands since I saw them in a previous, controversially named incarnation playing Duffy’s Tavern four or five years ago. They’ve just gotten better and better, and the collaboration with Diamond has brought them to a recorded peak that matches the intensity and entertainment of their live shows — the highest compliment that I can give to any rock ’n’ roll record.

Oh yeah, “We Came in Peace,” which hits stores Tuesday, was made loud to be played loud. Crank it up!

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