The Brave Ones' charismatic frontman Gene Louis used to front an excellent LA band called Bullets And Octane, who were tipped for stardom a decade ago. He might yet get his turn in the spotlight.
His new band’s debut album is a wonderfully warm-hearted, exuberant collection of songs, with its creepers in the gutter, its head in the stars and its heart pumping to the beat of timeless rock ‘n’ roll. Louis’ experiences with major labels clearly haven’t soured his innate love of music, as there’s an enthusiasm and excitement at the core of The Brave Ones which can’t be denied.
Those looking for a handle on the LA sextet could do worse that check out the self-explanatory I Bleed Rock ‘n’ Roll, which opens with the lyric “Johnny Rotten, Joan Jett, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones” and goes on to namecheck Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Angus Young and Social Distortion. It’s arguably the latter band with whom The Brave Ones are most closely identified - Louis’ lived-in rasp recalling that of Mike Ness - but across its twelve tracks their debut also flirts with country, ska, rockabilly and folk influences to winning effect.
The key to The Brave Ones appeal isn’t complicated: they write fine songs and deliver them like its their last night on earth. These songs are filled with hope and heart, underdog spirit and unfettered energy, street-learned wisdom and ‘fuck you’ attitude, a potent combination. Louis shares lead vocals with the sassy Amy Davis, and their chemistry gives the album an extra frisson. There’s much to like here, from the fearless, it’s-the-end-of-the-world-and-I-feel-fine bravado of Jukebox Song (’It’s the last night of our lives, I hear the jukebox playing, playing a song, for the brave ones…‘) to the rollicking gutter-punk anthem Streets Rats through to the uplifting, empowering bar-room sermon Go Get ‘Em Kid (’When I got these scars I was a little bit younger than you, you got a good heart kid, so pay attention when I’m speaking the truth…‘) and the bluesy, ballsy rumble of Don’t Let Me Die In Florida, on which Davis absolutely slays.
Will the music industry afford The Brave Ones the breaks that Bullets And Octane never enjoyed? Possibly not. Whatever, their debut is an album of rare soul, swagger and heart, an utterly life-affirming and joyous collection of which its creators can be justly proud. Shots of whiskey all round.