A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Undercover: The Day Of The Dead The Hi-Lo Food Show
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Movie Review For Our Consideration
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears: Scandalous

B+

Black Joe Lewis And The Honeybears

Album: Scandalous
Label: Lost Highway

Community Grade (2 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade

?

Austin-based retro-R&B act Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears broke beyond regional favorite status with the 2009 album Tell ’Em What Your Name Is!, a set of energetic, horn-stoked songs drawing on the traditions of James Brown, Howlin’ Wolf, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. The band’s follow-up, Scandalous, doesn’t vary the formula one drop: It’s all chicken-scratch guitar and deep, funky horns, over which Lewis rants and grunts like a mush-mouthed street crazy. This is a party record, wholly unconcerned with painstakingly recreating the past (à la Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings) or pushing the genre into the future (à la Cee Lo or Janelle Monáe). And though Scandalous isn’t the happy surprise that Tell ’Em was, neither is it any kind of letdown. There’s a fruitful conversation to be had about whether it’s fair to soul and blues traditions to mine them strictly for their fun elements, but honestly, it’s hard to hear the jumped-up, swampy “Black Snake,” the ecstatic spoken-word tall tale “Mustang Ranch,” or the playfully tempo-switching “Livin’ In The Jungle” and not be in a better mood.