The Thrill Isn’t Gone
Baby, we’ve got the blues. We’ve come a long way from a guy in a suit with an acoustic guitar and devil-dealt ability. After all, the blues was taken up by white Brits and turned into a rock archetype that can still be found in practically any city in the Western world—at least in some form.
Then, in the last decade or so, the “blues for a new generation” arrived with a bang, largely thanks to the art school packaging of the White Stripes, adding a colorful hipness to a music that had mostly been associated with dads and other old guys. But the rules of blues are such that you either have to completely nail it traditionally, or put a nice twist on a familiar friend, evolving its DNA along with whatever else you have going on.
Nights & Weekends, the debut LP of El Sportivo and the Blooz, has a solid blues backbone with strong features of country, Americana and an untraditional voice for such music. Singer Daron Hollowell has an informal, punchy whine, which sounds somewhere between Superchunk and Hot Hot Heat, and is not what you’d expect. This is all good, however, since it serves as a nice counterpoint to the band, rich with lap steel guitars, soaring organs and some fine, fine lead axe wielding. El Sportivo and the Blooz are a fine collection of musicians, including guitarist Lewis Pesacov of Fool’s Gold and members of Foreign Born, Line and Circle, etc.
As a result, Nights & Weekends is full of character and stretches its legs for a very long walk, such as the one from Brooklyn (where it was written) to Los Angeles (where it was recorded). The album gets a little long midway, especially once it reaches “Darkening My Door,” an epic twelve-minute forty-second track of, yes, blues. But overall the record is a statement of sweet activity, a casual but poignant look at life and experience, set to the melodies of a bluesy Southwest. In the end, with the blues—or the Blooz—life may not always be easy. But there is always more life to come.