The Elms are back to put more rock 'n' roll in your soul.
With a new bassist, new record deal, and new album, the Elms'
visit to The Chess Hotel marks their long-awaited and much-anticipated
return since 2002's critically acclaimed breakthrough, Truth, Soul,
Rock & Roll. The Chess Hotel also marks the four-piece's
debut on Universal South and represents a natural musical movement
as they branch away from the Christian fringes to the circles of mainstream
In short, the Elms is a Christian band that doesn't sound like a
Christian band, one that plays more in the true spirit of classic
rock. As such, Chess keeps regular doses of Stones-
and Zeppelin-infused guitars intact, but it's also clear that
the Elms' latest inspiration comes from more modern groups, from the
alternative hooks of Oasis to the dark soul of late Black
Rebel Motorcycle Club. The Elms continue to churn out their self-dubbed
style of "swingin' Midwestern-bred rock & roll", but
this time they get their hands dirty doing it with more beat- and
bass-driven tunes that chug along, grime and all.
These influences may explain the shorter, edgier songs and charged-up
attitude from enigmatic leader Owen Thomas. On opening track
"I Am The World", he comes right out and dichotomously declares,
"I'm the sickness and the cure/I'm polluted and pure/I am the
world and I'm yours!", all to a White Stripes' elephant
stomp. Most of the remaining songs revolve around Thomas's small-town
observations of blue-collar life and godless people ("The Towers
& The Trains", "Black Peach") and more of Thomas's
unconventional tales in his ever-continuing quest for love. It's fairly
standard songwriting for the Elms, but the way they express their
faith through subtlety and real-world experience is what sets this
Indiana quartet apart from their Christian brethren.
But perhaps the Elms' greatest strength lies in their ability to
put genuine, visceral "rock & roll in your blood," which
appears to be their mission statement. And like its forerunner, Chess
has a Who-like road-tested energy that gives you a glimpse
of the band in their stirring live form.
Overall, The Chess Hotel is a consistently good album, but
its rootsier feel and sepia-toned sound make it slightly less enjoyable
than Truth for this listener. But, whatever floats your "Lifeboat".
Standout Tracks: "She's Cold!", "Black Peach"
1. I Am The World
2. Who Puts Rock & Roll In Your Blood?
3. Nothin' To Do With Love
4. Makes Good Sense
5. I Left My Body And Never Came Back
6. She's Cold!
7. The Chess Hotel
8. Bring Me Your Tea
9. The Way I Will
10. The Downtown King
11. Black Peach
12. The Towers & The Trains
13. I've Been Wrong
Check out more
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!