Hearing Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears for the first time in 2009, I was struck by two things: First, ouch, this band was funk-nasty in a good way — all in-your-face grooves and crawling bass and blaring horns. Second, who was this maniac Black Joe? Dude sounded like James Brown hollering in tongues.
I still can’t understand half the lyrics to “Sugarfoot,” a song that serves as a blueprint for Black Joe Lewis’ primal sound. Eight years later, I still don’t care. It’s easier to sing along when all you have to do is grunt. Over time, Lewis has grown as a musician and expanded the band’s sonic palette. He’s leaned deeper into a psychedelic rock dimension. On the group’s new album, “Backlash,” he’s even soulful (and more understandable). But there’s always a hard-funk, garage-blues freakishness to the Austin, Texas, band. Lewis’ slashing guitar style oozes a distorted, blown-amp looseness — a purposeful slop that fits in with the beer spilled on sticky floors. Critics claim that Lewis’ songs are derivative. That’s always been true. But this band also is a strangely unique, cathartic live experience.
It makes going out on a Tuesday night in Boise hard to resist. If you do make it to Neurolux, consider showing up early enough to witness the name-droppable opening act, Dams of the West. It’s the new project from drummer Chris Tomson of rather famous band Vampire Weekend. His album, “Youngish American” — produced by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, no less — can’t possibly be as useless as Pitchfork made it sound in a recent review. (Can it?)
7 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., Boise. $14. TicketWeb. $16 at the door. Opening: Dams of the West