Review: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – There’s a Bomb in Gilead (Alive, 2012)
Alabaman Lee Bains III debuts with an album that deftly blends blues, soul, country and rock. Bains’ bio mentions the conflicting inspirations of church music and punk rock, but he draws most directly from the southern rock and soul of Capricorn Records and Muscle Shoals. Though there’s some aggression in the electric guitars (and Jim Diamond’s Detroit mix), there isn’t the unbridled fury of modern punk. The upbeat tunes suggest a mix between Mitch Ryder, Iggy Pop and pre-punk garage rock. Bains’ church roots surface in spiritual vocabulary, a few testimonial vocals and the mondegreenian album title (drawn from the traditional “There is a Balm in Gilead”). Even the band’s name is homophonic, drawn from a mishearing of “glorifiers.” Bains wears his Southern roots proudly, singing of the summers and cities that made up his childhood, and reveling in the land and literature. The Glory Fires play with the confidence, tight grooves and practiced looseness of a band that’s piled up more miles than they’ve yet to roll onto an odometer. Though he’s lived in New York and commuted to Los Angeles, his music could only be rooted in the complex, conflicted, Saturday-night-to-Sunday-morning South that fuels incendiaries with its conservatism.