A sip of PBR evokes images of sticky dive bars, red bandanas, ironic mustaches and hazy Instagrams. Its nostalgia-inducing white can (and, let’s face it, its affordability) has made it the drink of choice for the thrift store combers, the facial hair groomers, the tattooed and the irreverent among us.
Another Great American PBR shares many characteristics with the iconic Blue Ribbon brew. People’s Blue of Richmond, a three-piece band out of Richmond, VA, makes dirty, bluesy rock for the suds-sipping masses. Like the beverage that shares their moniker, they appeal to both cultural connoisseurs and grungy hipsters with impressive guitar melodies for the former and brash, slur-able vocals for the latter. Their lyrics would be about as welcome at your parents’ dinner party as a mugful of the budget-friendly beer. One should approach listening to PBR’s latest album Good Time Suicide the same way one might approach an ice cold tall boy… ready to have some fun, perhaps already slightly tipsy.
The album’s title perfectly summarizes its contents. The themes of the lyrics are, quite literally, sex, drugs and rock and roll but from the point of view of somewhat of a philosophe. It’s all the basic components of a supposed good time in conjunction with all the bleak introspection of a suicide. Musically, lead singer Tim Beavers, bassist Matthew Volkes and drummer Nekoro Williams come together in this album to produce a version of PBR that’s full-bodied and far from foamy.
The 10-track record begins with the alternatively bouncy and manic “Cocaine,” an ode to all the empowering highs and shameful lows of the powdery drug. Following the deflation of that first chantey is the loud, static-filled “Hard-On Blues.” Tim Beavers’ vocals become like a rougher version of Jack White’s Icky Thump enunciations in this spastically sexual second track. As the shortest track on the album, it’s correspondingly the most sonically dense, with the trio packing as much guitar, drums and carnal cries into each second as they can.
Toward the end of “Black Cat,” “Go Home” and “Motherf**ker,” the group finally introduces some of the psychedelic elements that make the PBR sound unique but for the most part, the record stays close to its rock and blues roots. The saga ends with a self-conscious reference to the album’s angsty protagonist’s “silly blues singing misery,” a line that’s as much of a wink as it is a lament.
Despite occasional comparisons to the White Stripes and Gogol Bordello, there’s something utterly Zeppelin-like in the trio’s sensuous vocal bombardments and heavy guitar hooks. This group is sure to rock the house with Zach Deputy and Johnny Awesome at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta on December 30. If you’d like to end 2013 with a thundering bang, we suggest you check it out.
Tickets to see People’s Blues of Richmond at Smith’s Olde Bar available here.