The Witnesses

Black Eyes and White Lies

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    7
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New York City's the Witnesses play straight-up rock & roll with garage-style energy and neo-Stones swagger on their second full-length album, Black Eyes and White Lies. While Oakley Munson's and Darian Zahedi's guitars are locked tight and cut a deep groove, Bonnie Bloomgarden's keyboards add a nice boogie-fied seasoning over the top, and Kenan Gunduz and Will Scott bring home the beat on bass and drums, it's Munson's and Bloomgarden's vocals that really give this band its hook. Both sound strong on their own, but when they harmonize (cue up the tough and sinewy "Rocks") and do the call-and-response (as on the hard-charging "Be Straight with Me"), they make for one of rock's best tag-team combinations to come down the pike in years. The Witnesses have their songwriting chops together, too, with most of the tunes dominated by high-kicking guitar riffs and stick-in-the-ear hooks, and they can kick it out ("We're Taking Over") or cool it down ("Don't Kiss and Tell") and sound equally committed either way. The Witnesses don't sound like they're reinventing the wheel on Black Eyes and White Lies, but they are serving up straight, no chaser rock & roll the way it ought to be played, and anyone with a taste for the real stuff would do well to give this disc a spin. Points added for Munson's superb white-guy afro, perhaps the finest since Handsome Dick Manitoba stopped competing.

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