Review : The Black Crowes - Before the Frost...
AllmusicRevitalized by their 2008 reunion, the Black Crowes decided to take a genuine risk, recording a double-album's worth of new material in front of a live audience at Levon Helm's barn in upstate New York...and then release the second half, Until the Freeze, as a free download-only. To a certain extent, such formal experiments are where the Crowes can really stretch, as they're so devoted to rock & roll roots from Southern England to South Georgia, they can't add new wrinkles to old traditions. But that's not exactly right: they're willing to stretch until at least the late '70s, offering their spin on a Rolling Stones' disco on the album's first single, "I Ain't Hiding." As true as that may be, it's too snide and easy, and does a disservice to what the Crowes pull off with aplomb on this rather remarkable record, a record that has all the easy interplay of a road-tested band but none of the weariness. The Crowes play with muscle and grace, easing into the rustic ramble of "Appaloosa" or getting dirt underneath their fingernails on the stupendous opener "Good Morning Captain," a song that sets the keynote for the rest of the record both in its sturdy construction and enthusiastically ragged performance. More than anything, it's the kineticism that captivates, how the band deepens their already-strong songs with muscle and blood, sounding alive in a way that they never quite have in the studio. No longer young upstarts, they wear their years proudly on this terrific album, sounding like the veteran roadhounds they've always aspired to be....full text
RollingstoneThe idea is inspired: gather an intimate audience of your biggest fans and put them in Levon Helm's Woodstock, New York, barn to watch you record your new material. That's what the Black Crowes did for their latest album — an 11-song set of ragged rockers and funky jams (Before the Frost …) plus an extra nine-song collection of mostly acoustic, country-tinged tunes (Until the Freeze …) that you can download after purchasing the physical disc.
You get a little sick of hearing the crowd between songs (we get it, there's an audience!), but in many ways this is the album the Crowes have been meaning to record for years. After ratcheting up a cool swagger with the grungy guitars and ragtime-y piano of "Good Morning Captain," the band delivers rock-solid country-rock balladry ("Appaloosa") and chunky, Faces-style rock & roll ("A Train Still Makes a Lonely Sound"). There are a couple of clunkers — "I Ain't Hiding," a disco-rock song that sounds like a reject from the Stones' Black and Blue, and "What Is Home," which wants badly to be early CSN — but they get lost amid the dirty-ass riffage, jammy grooves and bottleneck slide guitar. And Freeze is a set of American beauties that flows from spacey bluegrass to good-time boogie and pensive country folk. The perfect Sunday record after a long night in the barn....full text
LatimesblogsMainstream rock acts such as veteran Atlanta outfit the Black Crowes typically find better fortune on the road than on the sales charts, so it's no surprise that in the last decade brothers Chris and Rich Robinson have focused more on the live experience -- both in performance and releasing recordings of various concerts -- than sequestering themselves away in a studio honing new material.
They get the best of both worlds on this set of new songs recorded earlier this year in Woodstock live, for the most part, in front of a hand-selected audience. Using the home studio built by the Band's drummer Levon Helm apparently inspired them to branch further than they characteristically have into the various tributaries of American roots music. Those explorations feed into the Southern rock that remains at the center of the Black Crowes sound....full text
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