The Glory Fires

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires Band Photo

A few weeks back, Jason Isbell was interviewed by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. At one point during the interview, Noah acknowledges his preconceived notions of what Isbell’s beliefs should be based on his Alabama accent. It was an interesting observation and one that also translates to the music of The Glory Fires. Bains is a native of Birmingham, AL but his music and political leanings bristles with the energy that you’d associate with a punk band from Brooklyn. As Isbell retorts to Noah during that interview about his history with DBT and them being a “bunch of nasty punk rockers.” A statement that also translates very well to The Glory Fires.

The songs on Youth Detention walk the razor’s edge between his deep love of his home and criticisms of the many issues that he feels hold it back. The lyrics are pointed and not shy about their beliefs, but they don’t come across as preachy. Most of the issues he tackles – racism, greed, urban blight, religious hypocrisy – are ones that I stand firmly behind him. But even the ones that I don’t, I find his delivery compelling enough; sort of like disagreeing on subtleties with a good friend.

As for the music, the album is really well done. I dig it more than his last effort, Dereconstructed. Too often his lyrics were buried too deep beneath the din which could make it a bit of a challenge. Here, the production and mixing by Jeremy Ferguson, Tim Kerr and Lynn Bridges loses none of the ferocity of Dereconstructed but allows Bains’ vocals to always come across.

The double LP spans 17 tracks and there are some real gems here. Whitewash, a tune about the racial status quote, is a real standout as they slow things down a bit, really letting the twang shine through. The title track is a slow-building track that culminates with an anthemic flourish, very Patterson Hood. Crooked Letters is another stand-out. Using a recording of kids learning the tricks of spelling Mississippi, Bains delivers another winner that is sure to be great in a live setting. Towards the end of the album, Bains delivers a hopeful acoustic track, The Picture Of A Man, that hopes that the next generation can be better.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lee a few times. Always greets me a smile and a genuine hello. Really happy to see him but out such a great album.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Lee Bains is here

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I recently delved into the Twitter world and found some of it fascinating and useful; other parts contrived and nonsensical. But I have Twitter to thank for finding Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires when The Futurebirds tweeted about how they were the best thing since sliced bread.

While I still might be partial to sliced bread, this album is awesome. And like The Futurebirds, it turns out that Lee Bains III had paid HearYa a visit while a member of The Dexateens for their live session. Simply put – this album sounds like Alabama. While I’ve never been to Alabama, I do like a lot of music that hails from The Heart of Dixie and Bains III proudly wears his heart (i.e. his Dixie flag) on his sleeve

So many times, I get caught up on the first couple of songs on a new album, mostly because I am feeble-brained with a moderate case of ADD, but on There Is A Bomb In Gilead, it’s the last three songs that sealed the deal. “Roebuck Parkway” is a great acoustic number that would fit in nicely on Jason Isbell’s Here We Rest. Robeuck Parkway is the main thoroughfare through Birmingham and the tune reminicses on his youth in Alabama.

Next up is “Opelika,” a straight up country soul tune that sounds like it was a penned on a hot day on some dilapidated porch in rural Alabama. Oz thought it sounded like some early J.J. Grey and Mofro and that is a very apt description. I can also hear his time with The Dexateens shining through here.

Last up is the title track which came about because a young Lee Bains III confused the word “balm” with “bomb” from the gospel tune, “There Is A Balm In Gilead.” While he may have had his words mistaken, he clearly was paying attention to the music as this tune drips with the gospel sound that is so prevalent in the bible belt of America.

If you like Drive-By Truckers, The Dexateens or Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, run to buy this. Send thank you emails to hearyablog@yahoo.com, tell me how fucking awesome I am in the comments section below, or tweet me @WoodyHearYa to have this come full circle.

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