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CD Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's Beat the Devil's Tattoo 

The Deal: Trio starts fresh with new drummer on fifth studio album that picks up where Howl left off.

The Good: The new album kicks off with a slow roller in the title track. It's got a raw groove that picks up where the last album left off. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club sounds like the slightly punk alter-ego of the Black Keys. The 13-track disc clocks in at just over an hour, giving the band plenty of time to get its rhythms stuck under your skin. "Conscience Killer" has a solid hook to it that sounds more like The Strokes than most BRMC stuff – but it works surprisingly well with hammering drums finishing it off. "Sweet Feeling" is mostly falsetto over acoustic guitar while songs like "War Machine" and "Aya" are much darker and deeper with heavy bass lines dragging them along. The folk vibe on "The Toll" is new for the band, but one of the best songs on the album as the vocal grit remains intact. The disc ends with "Half-State" – 10 minutes that carry the listener along through slow jams and feedback-soaked solos. Sounds like the addition of new drummer Leah Shapiro was a good choice...

The Bad: "Bad Blood" isn't the best song on the album – more atmospheric than usual, but not necessarily "bad." "Evol" isn't a bad song per se, but it doesn't seem to fit in with the strong grooves that drive the rest of the album. It's like the band took a break halfway through and then kick it back up from there.

The Verdict: The band has changed directions in the past – stripped down or fully plugged in – and the new album offers a "best of both worlds" scenario that fits in nicely with the rest of the discography. Fans of the band should be pleased.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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