Murder Blues & Prayer

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Pearlene's second album of 2003, Murder Blues & Prayer, rows pretty much the same hoe as their first album. Dirty punk blues cut from the same dirty cloth as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the Soledad Brothers (whose Johnny Walker [harmonica, rhythm guitar] and Brian Olive [sax, vocals] actually play in Pearlene). Their first album came across as pretty generic, cookie-cutter punk blues with no spark or originality; this album is an improvement, albeit a slight one. Rueben Glaser's vocals sound more assured and less bratty, the guitars snarl a bit more, and some of the songs are catchy. "Livin Is..." is a slow-motion pressure-cooker blues reminiscent of Exile on Main Street-era Rolling Stones crossed with Big Brother & the Holding Company; "I Thought You Knew" is an actually dirty blues with some fine sax bleating and the guitars blending into a buzzing wall of sound. These moments of vitality are pretty rare and fleeting. Mostly what you run across are tunes like "You Done Told Everyone," which sounds like a Foghat rehearsal jam, or the Stillwater-esque "One Life." Indeed, the disc really provides no compelling reason for punk blues fans to shell out for Pearlene. Walker and Olive should stick to their day jobs.

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