Closed Mouth Don't Get Fed
Blackout Party guitarist Tim Lowman won big in the San Diego Music Awards this year with the help of Twist Shake Grind Break, a debut solo album he released under the name Low Volts. Armed with a slide guitar, a bass drum and his beguiling croon, he hammers out some of the loudest, heaviest, most badass blues-rock the city has heard all year.
So, it's no wonder I expected an ass-kicking set from Blackout Party on their second album, Closed Mouth Don't Get Fed. Unfortunately, the band falls short.
Closed Mouth certainly has its moments. The hard-charging guitars of “Spanish Gold” conjure early Queens of the Stone Age; the post-breakup honky-tonk of “Jenny Sue” has a Nashville barroom vibe; and “Casket Robbers” is as silly as it is spectacular, climaxing with an unexpected trumpet solo. If nothing else, it's the gargantuan blues-rock riffs of “Stronger Angel, Fiercer Devil” that make this album worthwhile.
Alas, Closed Mouth's front-end is loaded with instantly forgettable tracks. The song “13 Years” might save itself with a gnarly storyline about a convict who killed a guy with a samurai sword, but the title track hinges on a paint-by-numbers country-rock riff, and the sentimental “California Sky” veers dangerously close to Blues Traveler-style radio schlock.
Blackout Party, which won Best Americana at this year's SDMAs, is a versatile band they can even do a proper sea shanty (“A Sailor's Delight”). But Closed Mouth is in dire need of spark; too often, it sounds like they're just going through the motions. If they could muster half the energy Low Volts has, they'd be better for it.