I was contacted by Louder Than Love’s publicist, Nicole, last week with a request to review their act on my blog. I’ve been really fortunate that, to date, I have only received such requests from bands I really like. I’m not looking forward to the day I have to turn somebody away, but trust me, I’ll do it in a hot second if I don’t like their music or feel their style isn’t a good fit with my blog format (whatever that might be).
Louder Than Love is a five-piece from Vancouver, BC. with a sound that’s a melange of good ol’ Seventies Blues Rock and ‘80s/‘90s Seattle Grunge topped off with a vocal style influenced by the pop harmonies of The Beatles. The recordings from their premier release Dark Days are among the most sophisticated and professionally produced I’ve yet heard from an unsigned band. It’s clearly only a matter of time (I’m thinking months, perhaps weeks) before they’re snatched up by some major label and splattered all over the web and across the covers of myriad glossy print mags. But let us enjoy them as the precious, independent voice they are at the moment and lament the inevitable over-saturation later. For the record, I do realize that for 99.99% of all rock bands such attention is among the top-most of priorities, so far be it for me to wish to persuade them otherwise.
While all the members of Louder Than Love are clearly proficient and professional musicians, the band is, for the most part, a showcase for the songwriting and performance talents of lead singer/guitarist Paul Lambert. Although the band’s press emphasizes Lambert’s jazz guitar prowess, I find his playing style more roadhouse-blues influenced, with a raw (although just this side of refined), heavy Telecaster sound that’s a mashup between late ‘60s Jimmy Page (before he discovered the Les Paul) and much of the later work of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Add to this Lambert’s vocals - in a league with grunge legends Layne Staley, Scott Weiland and Eddy Vedder - which are unexpectedly deep, resonant and ragged for someone of his slight (best as I can tell from their live video clip) build and youthful good looks. This disparity between his appearance and vocal chops enhances Lambert’s mystique and charismatic appeal as both musician and stage presence.
The band cites Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Alice In Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, Steely Dan, Miles Davis and The Beatles as primary influences. I’d have to add Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dio era Black Sabbath, a bit of the Doobie Brothers and even Gregg Allman’s work from the early ‘70s to that list. I’ll openly admit that I’m far more knowledgeable regarding latter-days Blues Rock than Grunge, so forgive me if I hear more of the really ancient than the merely very old in the band’s musical roots.
While all the songs on their new release are outstanding, my favorites include:
The title song, “Dark Days,” a very catchy, moody and eclectic song that, whether intentionally or not, seems to play on Neil Young’s lyric from “Hey, Hey, My, My.”
“Just Like You,” has a sound slightly reminiscent of the Doobie Brothers’ classic “Black Water.”
“That Ghost,” which sounds a bit like some of Soundgarden’s more melodic offerings mixed again with hints of 70’s Blues Rock.
“Never Going Back,” a hard-driven pop song with a robust mixture of acoustic and electric guitars and ultra-deep bass tones - my favorite among the band’s heavier tunes.