Home Read Album Of The Week: Black Pistol Fire | Look Alive

Album Of The Week: Black Pistol Fire | Look Alive

The ex-pat blues-punk duo expand their sonic and musical arsenal on their sixth set.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Three years after their lauded fifth effort, the Austin-by-way-of-Toronto duo Black Pistol FireKevin McKeown (guitar/lead vocals) and Eric Owen (drums/bass synth) — are back with Look Alive, an album that sees them refining their singular two-man approach, outfitting their explosive, impassioned rock ‘n’ roll with a soundscape that is more expansive, ethereal and cinematic.

The duo teamed with co-producer and engineer Jacob Sciba (Gary Clark Jr, Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes) and mixer Vance Powell (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Chris Stapleton) and Look Alive delivers their wild amalgam of southern rock and bluesy, garage punk through a handful of diverse singles–among them the coiled, psychedelia-laced Level, the R&B-inflected Temper, Temper, the doomy, stomping Black Halo and the slow-burner Hope in Hell.

Look Alive is a far-reaching sonic landscape, venturing out beyond traditional rock touchstones. Credit this in part to the band’s natural progression. “When we first started out a decade ago, I had one guitar and one guitar pedal, and Eric had his drums and a green Dodge Neon — that was it,” says McKeown. “So, experimentation was just not an option.” Since then, things have changed. McKeown’s pedal collection — and the resulting range of sounds he’s capable of producing with it — is an awe-inspiring thing, for one, while drummer Owen has moved beyond a mere acoustic kit to add bass synth, electronic drums and other colors to the mix.

Black Pistol Fire’s passion has dominated every move over the course of the past decade, an intensely creative period that produced five albums, several EPs and numerous singles — one of which, Lost Cause, was the most-played track on rock radio in Canada in 2018 and spent 14 consecutive weeks at #1 on the charts — as well as music that has been featured in a variety of TV shows, films and commercials. Along the way, Black Pistol Fire have played everywhere from the smallest, sweatiest out-of-the-way holes to the massive stages of fests like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and Austin City Limits, bringing their blistering, blues-rooted, brain-expanding rock ’n’ roll to audiences both devoted and unsuspecting and laying it all on the line, every single time.

Why Look Alive? “That title just seemed to tie everything together as far as where the songs are coming from lyrically and thematically,” says McKeown, who composed all the new tracks on the album. “Because a lot of it seems pretty dark. But also, it’s like you’re pushing through that darkness.” And darkness, for better or worse, is front and center in many people’s experiences right now. “It’s crazy,” McKeown continues, “a lot of these songs, people are saying they really ring true to what’s going on in our world right now. But in terms of timing, there’s something about it that seems to be hitting the nail on the head, so to speak.”