13 Violets

Mother Superior

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13 Violets Review

by Mark Deming

Mother Superior's sinewy but hard-hitting blend of blues, soul, and hard rock gets a bit more of a tuneful bent on their sixth album, 13 Violets, but if you're looking for the rock, fear not, Henry Rollins' best friends still have it to spare. The melodic hookiness of "Head Hanging Low" gets this set off to a surprising start, with Jim Wilson and Marcus Blake's harmonies and a subtle string chart giving the song a smooth but effective punch, and the neo-psychedelic undertow of the title tune, driven by Jason MacKenroth's rolling drums, suggests this album will be full of unexpected left turns. But the dynamic crunch of "Five Stars," the overdriven guitar assault of "Turbulence," and the cocky strut of "Fuel the Fire" bring this band back to the basics in solid, soul-satisfying form, and they add just enough intelligence and individuality to their meat-and-potatoes hard rock to keep even their most pro forma material fresh and flavorful. Add in the tongue-in-cheek love man's pleadings of "I Desire You" and the soulful vibe of "Everybody Wants" and you've got a record with heart, soul, brains, and backbone, and producer Wayne Kramer gets the whole thing on tape with just enough style and a minimum of fuss. A band this good really ought to be known more for its own work than for its side gig, and if the fates are fair (which doesn't always happen), 13 Violets will open a lot more ears to one of the better hard rock bands currently treading the boards.

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