Published on October 22nd, 2017 | by Chris Crash
Album Review: Barb Wire Dolls “Rub My Mind”
review by Chris Crash
Barb Wire Dolls, the LA-by-way-of-Crete punk rock band, have really had one hell of a successful career so far. Forming to respond to a lack of punk rock in their home country, getting widespread US exposure from tastemaker DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, getting personally signed by Lemmy from Motorhead to be represented by his music label, having their debut full length record produced by Steve Albini, embarking on a massive headlining tour…the larger points of their story is almost the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll fantasy that every man and woman dreams about when hitting the road with their band. Their latest album on Motorhead Music, Rub My Mind, is a fast moving and breezy album that is nicely accessible for anyone who wants a good quick rock fix.
- Back In The USSA
- If I Fall
- Desert Song
- Hole Of Isolation
- Call Me
- We Are Champions
- Edge Of Innocence
- Fade Away
- Where Mountains Drink The Wine
- Fire To Burn
Each song on Rub My Mind had a memorable character to it, which did a lot to entice me to keep listening all the way through. There isn’t really anything complex to the songs, but they all had distinct hooks that will, at the very least, reel you in for the song’s duration. The song kicking everything off, “Back In The USSA”, was flashing shades of “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways like strobe lights from a police car. Opening your album with a song that positively reminds you of one of rock’s greatest opening tracks is certainly a great way to cover the bases in getting you hooked. Between an unrelenting single-chord guitar attack and sardonic lyrics sung through gritted teeth, “Back In The USSA” is a crusher that proves to be a great curtain jerker.
From there, we veer through the desert between crowd popping anthems (“If I Fall”, “Gold”), strained riot grrl statements (“Call Me”, “Edge Of Innocence”), and more subdued and introspective hard rock ballads (“Fade Away”, “Where The Mountains Drink The Wine”). That last group of songs really showcase how tight this band is, as they set the mood with a deep rhythm and dancing lead guitar that lockstep to boost for an exciting chorus. Upon learning that this was recorded at Rancho De La Luna, desert home to sand blasted rock giants like Queens Of The Stone Age and Kyuss, I had no problem imaging some of the songs on this album on a mix with those aforementioned legends (I’d put either “Desert Song”, “Fade Away” or “Edge Of Isolation” on it…they’d fit in nicely).
My biggest criticism with this album is that the production is way too edgeless and clean, and puts the fun songs through a filter that gives everything a toothless radio rock gloss. It goes against the look and energy that this band puts out, and I’d highly suggest that you find their raw-and-dirty debut album Slit if you want to hear what a difference a fitting production can make.
One of the things that makes rock music engaging is the earnestness of who is fronting the band, and that is why Isis Queen’s presence powers the album through everything. She’s the perfect frontwoman whose voice perfectly conveys the emotion of the song being played. It ranges from bursts of excitement on songs like “We Are Champions”, to impassioned cries of survival on songs like “Gold”, and to softer moments of reflection on songs like “Fire To Burn” and “Waiting To Be Lost”. This type of earnest energy is what can make songs memorable, like you’re really connecting on a deep level with who is singing it. Luckily, Isis has this energy in spades.
At the end of the day, listening to Rub My Mind has really convinced me that Barb Wire Dolls must be a really fun band to see live. I can imagine every song I listened to being infectious while being performed by this charismatic grungy band on stage, and that’s one of the best things a rock album can accomplish. I hope that their next album has a production that better reflects the band’s edge, because nothing is better to have in your music arsenal than a no-frills rock n’ roll stomper.
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