About a month ago I got an e-mail from my friend Doug over at New Ocean Media asking if I’d like to check out Blacklist Union’s new CD Til Death Do Us Part. What was I gonna say, “No”? Of course I said, “Hell yeah!” You all know how much I love checking out new stuff, right? Fast forward to two weeks later and this package arrives in the mail, with not only the CD but this killer Blacklist Union t-shirt. SCORE!! As it happens I had errands to run, so Tony West (singer/frontman/songwriter) & Co. were coming with. I put this thing in my truck and MAN ALIVE, THESE FUCKERS ROCK!!! And when they touch on themes like life, love, loss, addiction, and redemption, you can feel what Tony’s singing about, you really can.
The disc opens with title track “Til Death Do Us Part” which sets an ominous tone for what’s to come and then kicks into overdrive with “Alabama Slammer” which, let’s get this out of the way, is THE best song on the album. The day I got this thing I couldn’t move on from it for about an hour before I finally gave the other tunes a go. This is such a great song that as I write this I’ve had to repeat it another three times! I love this song. I wish this song were a whole day long. That would be the best day!! “Blown Away” is a slow, moody piece whose ambience calls for listening with the lights off and candles burning. The guitars provide the ideal atmosphere and are downright psychedelic at times. It’s really hard to pin this band down to any specific genre which is a good thing, believe me.
With regard to “Game Over” I’ll say this: if you’re not humming the chorus to it all day long then I have to question your ears, quite frankly. “Same Ol’ Pressure”, a song about the pitfalls of the business we’re in has a fantastic groove and a terrific vocal delivery from Tony, as does “Diggin 4 Gold” making both of them absolute standouts. “Feed the Snakes” is a mid-tempo blues-based rocker that made me wanna reach for my shotglass and fill it quickly with some tasty vodka, rum, or tequila-dammit, whatever’s closest! The raw intensity of it just makes it the perfect Friday night shots and beers companion.
One thing that really hit me on this record is the guitar tone. As I said before, I can only describe it as ominous, especially on the clean parts. But it’s also captivating, and it will wrap you up in its arms and pull you into the fire of its licks, especially on “I Do” and “The Lick Kitty Split Theme Song”, the latter of which is a dirty sleazy rockin’ ditty with a touch of Alice In Chains to it. An unexpected twist came in a cover of the INXS classic “Don’t Change” which set off some serious alarms within my head because it is my all-time favorite song by them, and to fuck it up would ensure my burning of the disc and voodoo dolls being made. Well, happy to say that the band not only sidesteps that landmine, but dirties the song up a bit in a version I think the late Michael Hutchence would be proud of.
The album ends on a softer note with “I Don’t Love You Anymore” that serves as a perfect finale on a CD that runs the emotional gamut throughout its 11 songs. I have to say, I may be late to the Blacklist Union party, as this is their third record, but I’m glad I got here when I did. And I expect that 2014 is gonna be quite a year for Tony West and the boys.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Alabama Slammer”, “Game Over”, “Same Ol’ Pressure”, “Diggin 4 Gold”, “Blown Away”, “Feed the Snakes”