The Black Marquee Los Angeles – “Sessions From The Hive Vol 1”
The Black Marquee were formed by Chelsea Smiles singer/guitarist, Skye Vaughan Jayne and bassist/vocalist, Mike Christie, two years ago. The two had met on the road in previous bands and quickly realised that they shared a love of fuzz guitars and great songs. Rounded out by drummer Rich Berardi and guitarist K Bombay, The Black Marquee are making a name for themselves on the Los Angeles club scene. The band’s sound has been described as “an amalgamation of Garage, Punk and Stoner Rock with pop sensibilities”.
The first thing that comes to mind with opening song ” Seven Shades Of Shame” is that they have a sound like The Cult. It has that same feeling of a big rock sound with a touch of sleaze, but also a darker, more gothic undertone. “Wolves To Wallflowers” has a similar sound and wouldn’t be out of place on Sonic Temple. This song also adds a Hammond organ, which is a nice touch. This style is also present on “Cold War” and probably has a lot to do with the technique of allowing the vocals to stand separate from the guitar before coming together in the chorus.
“All For Love (LUV)” sees them taking a big risk by starting the song off the same as a New York Dolls track, but thankfully the song justifies the making of this comparison. As you would expect, it’s a rock n roll song that has a stench of debauchery and sleaze about it, Johnny Thunders would have approved! We get another great punky rock n roll song later on, in the shape of “My Darling”, a song which is just built to be played loud.
The band tone things down a bit, with “Dirt Road Home” which has a wider sound compared to some of the punkier tracks. It’s good to see the band are willing to demonstrate a more expansive sound rather than just the simpler rock tracks. “Madness For Some” follows this, and has a stronger focus on the melody of the song, before building into a huge chorus. It’s a big rock song which, back in the day, would’ve been an arena filler. We then move on to an LA Sunset strip swagger with “Rotten Truth”, but the emphasis is still on grit rather than glammer. They throw in another surprise with “Just Sayin'”, which starts off like it is going to be the ‘token ballad’ on the album. However, it develops into a great melodic track with an almost sixties influenced sound. The whole album appropriately concludes with the high octane “Sunday Servant” which is all punk ‘n’ roll.
The Black Marquees have delivered something that is rare these days.. a quality, sleazy, rock album. It has the sort of huge rock songs which at one point would have seen them playing arenas with the likes of Guns N Roses (when they were actually a decent band!). It seems to have a sleaze rock feel to it, but rather than taking the throwaway glam side, it is a darker more menacing side. Those fans of more obscure band of this ilk, may recall a great album by The Throbs which had a comparable sound. It’s a rock n roll album, but with the sinister tone of The Cult. It would be fantastic if this album could see a regeneration of this style, where the current music industry is desperately short of bands willing to write great rock songs, with a bit of devilment and mischief.