LOOK OUT! Eric Sardinas & Big Motor are back with their third full-length album entitled ‘Boomerang’, it is Eric’s sixth album overall. He also has one three song EP in his discography. It is their first for Jazzhaus Records based out of Germany. Ever the road dogs, Eric Sardinas & Big Motor are currently touring overseas to promote the album. As of now, the album is available as an import but is set for a U.S. release in January 2015. *HINT* Hopefully the release will coincide with a U.S. tour! *HINT*
Big Motor is the powerhouse rhythm section of Mississippi native Levell Price on bass and Bryan Keeling on drums. Levell injected his Southern charm and influence as the founder of Big Motor back in 2005 having previously recorded and toured with Billy Tulsa & The Psycho Crawdads. Bryan replaced Chris Frazier who left to join Foreigner in 2012. Bryan has toured with Fuel, recorded and toured with Shooter Jennings & The .357’s from 2004-2010. He has also recorded with artists as diverse as Pink, Jessi Colter, Dionne Warwick and Damon Elliot. I’ve been a fan of Bryan’s since his days with Shooter Jennings so when I heard he had joined Eric Sardinas & Big Motor, I was stoked. ‘Boomerang’ marks Levell’s third album with Big Motor & Bryan’s first.
Eric Sardinas is not your typical guitarist in the sense of that he plays a Strat or Les Paul, unless he flies United Airlines, his weapons of choice are an assortment of customized and often electrified Dobro Resonators. Naturally left-handed, Eric plays them right-handed allowing his dominant hand to handle the fretwork accented by his signature Dunlop Preachin’ Pipe slide while his right hand uses a series of fingerpicks and a thumb pick to create a frenetic style that is uniquely his own. So impressive is his playing that the legendary Steve Vai has had Eric out multiple times on world tours that usually culminated in a nightly jam of Vai’s “The Attitude Song” with Vai, Sardinas, Billy Sheehan, Tony MacAlpine, Dave Weiner and others.
As Eric Sardinas recently stated “I want to bring straight Rock n’ Roll and Blues together and mix them up into my own thing.” Eric Sardinas & Big Motor do just that from the start of their new album as the opening track ‘Run Devil Run’ gets things going. This cut just reeks of attitude and aggression. I can’t wait to experience this one live as it should be intense. The solo flat smokes. Up next is the title track, ‘Boomerang’ and it quickly picks up where the first track left off but quickly hits a breakneck pace. Lyrically it is a unique take on the subject of relationships but after the first listen you get what the man is saying. No doubt you’ll be singing the chorus long after you quit listening to the song. ‘Tell Me You’re Mine’ brings the pace down just a bit and is a bit more groove oriented musically til later in the song. I really digg how Matt Gruber pans the guitars from left-to-right throughout the song and doesn’t bury Levell & Bryan in the mix on any of the album. Everyone sounds right in place and the sounds is crisp and clear.
‘Morning Glory’ is acoustically driven with a really swampy feel accented by some hauntingly gospel background vocals. I really digg when Eric does these type of songs live as he forgoes the mic for the acapella route and accents his acoustic playing with stomp percussion. We pick up the pace again with a rollicking shuffle ‘Bad Boy Blues’ that finds Dave Schulz adding to the flavor of the song with the addition of keys. Levell & Bryan lock the shuffle down tight on their respective instruments. The next tune, ‘If You Don’t Love Me’ has been a staple in the bands live show for several years so I THOUGHT I knew what to expect. I was wrong as it starts out rather subdued & acoustic giving a chance for Eric to showcase his finger picking, gaining intensity before Bryan announces his presence at the :41 mark and Levell joins in at the :48 mark bringing this rocker to a boil. Not only is it musically a little different but Eric reworked some of the lyrics and the addition of gang background vocals brings it up another step.
If you’re looking for trouble, you came to the right place as Eric Sardinas & Big Motor put their stamp on the Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller penned Elvis classic ‘Trouble’. They do it justice as this version has the swagger & attitude of Elvis’ version and the last 1:17 of the song shows the band just tearing it up at a turbo-charged pace. No doubt The King would be proud! Well done gents, well done! ‘Long Gone’ is another rocker that I hope to see done live soon. This is a perfect driving tune thanks to its driving tempo. Just make sure the cops aren’t around & do not try to replicate Bryan’s machine gun fire drum fill at the 2:15 mark on the steering wheel or dashboard, ya may hurt your hands! Levell lays down a galloping bass line as Bryan locks in the shuffle groove as Eric channels his inner Howlin’ Wolf on this arrangement of an old Chester Arthur Burnett classic, ‘How Many More Years’. The album comes to a close with ‘Heavy Loaded’. A song acoustically driven with a raucous bunch providing background vocals and instrumental support via a plethora of kazoo’s! The only way I can describe this tune is FUN. An interesting way to end the album to say the least!
In closing, this album captures the live juggernaut that is Eric Sardinas & Big Motor on tape, yes, I said tape because it was recorded to analog tape and only in post production did it see the light of today’s digital technology. I couldn’t imagine having Matt Gruber’s job in trying to capture the sound of Eric Sardinas & Big Motor in the studio. From the nuances in Eric’s picking & slide work to his approach vocally and let’s not forget the Big Motor part of this recording. Levell & Bryan just aren’t your typical Blues Rock sidemen, they are as tight of a rhythm section as you’ll find and are truly the motor that drives the shined up n’ hot rodded Cadillac that is Eric Sardinas & Big Motor!
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Released October 24, 2014
Eric Sardinas – Vocals, Electrified Custom Dobro Resonators, Steel and Acoustic Resonators
Levell Price – Bass
Bryan Keeling – Drums
Background Vocals by Eric Sardinas, Matt Gruber, Levell Price and Bryan Keeling
Dave Schulz – Keyboards on “Bad Boy Boogie”
Celine Cavin – Mojo Juice Harp
Kazoo’s by the Hilo Bay Honorary Brigade
Produced, Engineered & Mixed by Matt Gruber
01) Run Devil Run
03) Tell Me You’re Mine
04) Morning Glory
05) Bad Boy Blues
06) If You Don’t Love Me
07) Trouble [Elvis Presley cover]
08) Long Gone
09) How Many More Years [Howlin Wolf cover]
10) Heavy Loaded
Eric Sardinas & Big Motor – Run Devil Run LIVE