Big John Bates: Noirchestra
Skinners Cage | Rookie Records

The third album to come from the tireless touring machine that is Big John Bates, Big John Bates: Noirchestra now finds the musician stepping out into slightly different terrain. The songs are less full-on rock attack and more exploring of textures and variations while still working firmly in the Americana Noir genre the band is known for.

It’s a very good fit having the trio of guitarist Bates, bassist Brandy Bones and drummer Ty-Ty expanded to include violinist RequiEmily, who greatly expands the sonic capacities of the group.

The 11 tracks include both originals and covers of Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English, Kurt Weil’s Moon of Alabama and Dead Moon Night by Dead Moon.

Here are five things to know about Skinners Cage:

1: All the Devils. The opening track is a ragged rocker in line with what fans would associate with a BJB album. But rather than hyper-amped guitar, it’s the violin bowing like crazy that drives the track and also gives it a solidly B-movie spookiness. There is a Theremin lick that is totally addictive.

2: Brandy Bones singing. It’s hard to bring something new to a song as signature as Broken English, but Bones does just that as she seems to cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Courtney Love, giving the moody lyrics new-found heaviness. She can also be downright old-timey as on Thread by Thread.

3: Skinners Cage. The title track begins as a near-folk acoustic number before it builds into a power rocker featuring some parts that wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic psychedelic garage recording from the ’60s. Bates drops a killer solo in this song on an album that doesn’t have that many of them.

4: Noirchestra. Having been involved in thrash metal (Annihilator), garage (Voodoo Dollz), goth (Bates Motel) and psychobilly, one constant has held with every project from Big John Bates. The music all sounds like it will go over well in concert and it almost always does.

5: Skinners Cage release. Those who want to take in this powerhouse band before it returns to Europe once again (the new album is out on a German label) can see them on May 4 at the Railway Stage and Beer Cafe.