I am worried, and I am confused. If the Soledad Brothers are going to continue to crank out their tried and true formula of dusty, sleazy blues-inspired garage rock, then why did they bother to team up with producers who would only overproduce the album, leaving it as a disappointing and overly obvious attempt to cover up that bluesy sound? In my opinion, bluesy garage rock should be raw. It should be gritty. It should be dirty. Instead, all I heard were songs being choked of their simple delights by being weighed down with harmonicas, flutes, and the sitar. It portrays little conviction of studying up on the authentic roots of what they are trying to play.
On the one hand, I have to hand it to the boys of the Soledad Brothers. They are merely trying to venture outside the box of blues and rock. They’re trying to put a new spin on an old sound, freshening up something that’s been made stale to no end. Trying not to follow in the footsteps of so many bands that have been before, they take a risk. And for this idea alone I like them. This shows integrity and idealism.
Idealism can go too far, unfortunately. The Hardest Walk doesn’t succeed in focusing those ideals toward a cohesive whole. There are just too many randomly placed songs on this set, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for them. By doing this, they merely sound like they’re trying too hard.
Some songs do have promise like “White Jazz,” a revved-up noise rocker, or “Truth Or Consequences” which has a strong beginning, and remains musically interesting throughout the song. Still, there’s not enough here to warrant many repeated listens. All in all, it has moments of potential, but they’re often sacrificed for the sake of manufactured eclecticism.
Brian Jonestown Massacre – Thank God for Mental Illness
White Stripes – White Blood Cells
Von Bondies – Lack of Communication