Band of Skulls

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Sandy Carson

Band of Skulls Beauty Bar/Palm Door, Friday, March 19

Band of Skulls know what they are and what they are is Cream-y, blooze-rawk goodness, thick with the leftover three-chord grime of guitarist Russell Marsden's molten riffs fighting a losing battle against Emma Richardson's gnarly basslines and Matt Hayward's ferocious abuse of his Yamaha drum kit. OK, call it a draw. Marsden and Richardson trade off vocal duties, and Marsden in particular is fond of shuddering to a sudden, howling halt in the midst of – just one example, the hell-bound train-kept-a-rollin' chug and stomp of single "I Know What I Am." Comparisons to the White Stripes and the Kills have been made, but live, Band of Skulls is far less winkingly pomo and far more indebted to the grinding, bluesy wail of early Led Zep and the full-moon crossroads diabolism of Robert Johnson. We won't argue the fact that the stop-start stutter groove of "Death by Diamonds and Pearls" feels particularly Stripe-y, but opener "Light of the Morning," coupling Marsden's plaintive vocals, sweaty and frustrated, with Richardson's own, and the chilly wailings of closer "Cold Fame" proved there's more going on here than meets the eye socket.

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