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Night Beats - Myth Of A Man
Myth Of A Man is a reckoning, a shoot-out at dawn, the ear-splitting peel-out that leaves nothing but a cloud of red dust in its wake. It marks a new era for Night Beats and its frontman, Danny Lee Blackwell—an era marked by independence, expansion, and undiscovered facets of an undeniable talent.
The outlaw rumble and screeching guitar of “Eyes On Me” offer the familiar garage groove of the Night Beats sound, but the lyrics reveal a pivotal shift. “Will I rise or will I fall / Crash against the canyon wall / Give the people what they came to see / Everybody’s eyes / On me,” Blackwell sings. The song may have been inspired by a failed Evel Knievel jump, but it’s Blackwell himself that seems to be poised at the edge of Snake River Canyon, a lone figure against the dusty ridge and setting sun, staring down both doom and glory.
While Blackwell has always fed off the musical legacy of his Texas roots—Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Red Krayola, The Black Angels and more paving the way for the napalm-coated psych-rock headtrip of past albums—Myth Of A Man has him pulling from the surrogate wellspring of Nashville, Tennessee. It was there that he worked with the eminent Dan Auerbach, and a murderer’s row of battle-worn session musicians—the combined weight of experience that comes from working with every legend from Aretha Franklin to Elvis not lost on Blackwell. “I was just humbled by being accepted,” he explains, “Big hearts all around.”
With an arsenal of both Auerbach and the seasoned vets, Blackwell was eager to collaborate, their expertise and studied ears opening his songs up to new sonic directions. “There was definitely a conscious decision to expand and try things differently,” Blackwell explains, “I try to push against a brick wall all the time.” You can hear the sound of Nashville creeping into the chorus of “Stand With Me”, in the triumphant, Glen Campbell strut of “There She Goes,” or even in the wounded, battered, and bourbon-soaked spirit of “(Am I Just) Wasting My Time,” a wistful take on bad romance that Blackwell might as well be singing to us from the lonely stool at the dark end of the bar.
The result is an album that’s less of the bloodshot acid trip of Sonic Bloom (2013) and Who Sold My Generation (2016) and more of the hazy comedown. The moody organ comps and slow stroll of the 12-string on “Her Cold Cold Heart” evoke the noxious feeling and hypnotic state of toxic love, the spirit of Bill Withers is flowing through the acoustic guitar and sun-soaked shuffle of “I Wonder,” and string-trimmed ballads like “Footprints” and “Too Young To Pray” evoke the imaginative, cowboy psychedelia of fellow Texan, Lee Hazlewood. “Let Me Guess” with its searing riff and Elevators-esque organ assures us that the scuzzy sound we know and love is alive and well, while “One Thing,” a song about being used and abused—or as Blackwell sharply puts it, “being rolled up and smoked”—has plenty of fuzzed-out guitars to let us know he might just be happy about it.
Written during a particularly destructive period of the band, the album is populated by fallen angels, blood-sucking wanderers, and vindictive lovers—sketches of people the band has surely come across during their cosmic roving through the underground—but the character most present is Blackwell, himself. “Myth Of A Man can be summed up as a personal display of vulnerability and guilty conscience,” he explains, “Destroying the mythos of what it means to live and function in society.” With its bold steps forward, Myth Of A Man serves as both a takedown and reintroduction of the band as we know it—the strongest evidence that you’ll never be able to pin Night Beats down.