In light of the Witnesses’ publicity photos, one could probably be forgiven if they mistook them for a band that spent more time cultivating a look than a sound. This would be highly inadvisable though, as the band’s songs are at least as good as their haircuts.
While too many revivalists these days pick just one band to emulate, the Witnesses are the product of a wider breadth of influences. Inspired in part by American blues music and the English groups that electrified it, the band’s sound is unquestionably of another time, but not any one particular era. Traces of fractured psychedelia and contemporary Brit-pop further prevent easy categorization. Furthermore, the band’s technical abilities should quell any accusations of hipster posturing. They’re first-rate musicians, despite their secondhand clothes.
From Brooklyn (obviously), the Witnesses have spent the better part of these past three years trying to recreate the unchecked intensity of their live show in a recording studio. With Black Eyes and White Lies, the follow-up to their 2004 debut, Tunnel Vision, they come within an afro’s breath (see photo). While organist Bonnie Bloomgarden predictably soaks up most of the attention in concert, each of the five band members holds the spotlight for a track or two. Opener “Hard Up” has rhythm guitarist Oakley Munson and Bloomgarden swapping a microphone over the sleaziest guitar riffs that Keith Richards never played. On “We’re Taking Over” the rhythm section confuses “We Will Rock You” and “Gimme Shelter” with impressive results.
The Witnesses tour dates:
2/5, Las Vegas, CA (Double Down Saloon) 2/11, Pioneertown, CA (Pappy & Harriet’s) 2/16, San Francisco, CA (12 Galaxies) 2/19, Las Vegas, CA (Double Down Saloon)