Before the critics and marketers started using the term rock ’n’ roll (the phrase itself goes back to the earliest days of vernacular music), what was rock ’n’ roll? Just like there was gravity before Isaac Newton defined it, what was rock ’n’ roll before it was defined? What was the music of gleeful rebellion and celebration of vice and good times? A lot of times it sounded like Bad Kids Club, the excellent new record by Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. This is party, dancing music (instead of song lengths on the CD, it comes with beats per minute ratings so dancers know whether to step it fast or grind it slow), with the right amount of sauce, slink, sleaze and desperation. The band carries on with a careless, fun attitude and a bluesy swing. There are odes to reefer, Scotch, Peruvian snuff and other good time themes.
Lake, one of the most powerful, expressive and seductive singers working today, is at her best. She’s precise and exacting in the way she hits the notes and the emotion and attitude behind them. She’s as believable trying to find a man on “Woman Seeking Man” or sassing a woman trying to take hers on “You Ain’t Woman Enough.” And finally the band has gotten the tour de force performance of Bessie Smith’s “L’Ectric Chair Blues” on wax. Both Lake and band build a serious, simmering beat on this before leaving it all in the studio by the end. With that cut and the many other fantastic songs on Bad Kids Club, Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns show how they are hitting their prime and leaving 99 percent of the swing and traditional bands currently out there drinking the dregs from their drained lowball glasses.