Happier Than Ever With The Black Crowes’ “Happiest Bastards” Album Review March 16, 2024



Picture it, the year is 2009. What might be going on around you? Well, for starters, Barack Obama was President of the United States. Chesley Sullenberger landed Flight 1549 on the Hudson River and Heath Ledger won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously on Jan. 22, 2009. So, what also happened? The Georiga native rock band, The Black Crowes released Before the Frost…Until the Freeze.

At that point in March of 2009, Black Crowes fans were unaware of that Before the Frost…Until the Freeze was the last Black Crowes record for 15 years. Those 15 years saw a break up of the band, a reunion, an anniversary tour for the anniversary of their debut record, Shake Your Money Maker, and an EP titled 1972. Then finally on March. 15, 2024, the Black Crowes released their ninth record titled Happiness Bastards.

The album, which was released off of Silver Arrow Records has 10 total songs that have a run time of 38 minutes. Within those 38 minutes, the record is back to their roots, a no-holds-bard rock record that will transport fans back to 1990 when The Black Crowes (TBC) broke onto the scene.

The record starts off with the twangy southern “Bedside Manners.” This opening track introduces listeners to the theme of the entire album, straightforward rock and roll. This song has hints of classic Black Crowes music which will bring a smile to fans’ faces. Track two is the gritty “Rats and Clowns.” This three-and-a-half-minute tune has everything that a fan of the band could want. It has great riffs from Rich Robinson and Nico Bereciartua on guitars with a full chorus thanks to lead singer Chris Robinson who is joined by backup singers Mackenzie Adams and Lesley Grant.



“Rats and Clowds” is a fast-paced song that could even work as the opening track and flip with “Bedside Manners.” I love it when a record starts with strong tunes that grab listeners and force them to continue down the album.

The first single off the record is track four, “Wanting and Waiting.” This song contains the classic Crowe’s southern vibe. The moment this song was released as the single off the record, I had a clever suspicion that the entire album would be strong. Robinson and Bereciartua have earworm riffs that are accompanied by the eldest Robinson’s (Chris) distinguishable voice. The continuation of “(Blood on fire) Blood, blood, my blood’s on fire” at the end of the track is amazing and the band’s harmonies are top-shelf quality. This is the perfect song to roll your windows down on a summer day and blast at full volume.



Of course, Happiness Bastards wouldn’t be a Black Crowes record without at least two powerful ballads on the album. The first ballad is track five, “Wilted Rose (feat. Lainey Wilson),” and “Kindred Friend,” which is track 10. Both songs respectively have a hint of a country vibe to them while also being a rock ballad. Both songs, especially “Wilted Rose” have beautiful vocals. Lainey Wilson’s emotionally powerful vocals bring “Wilted Rose” to new heights that were only seen on ballads like “She Talks To Angles” and “Wiser Time.”

The rock and roll extravaganza returns with full force for track seven, “Dirty Cold Sun.” While current drummer Cully Symington is not Steve Gorman, he still does a great job pounding away on the drums. It’s great to hear how loud he is on the cymbals, the loud clank on the chorus adds a much-needed sound to round out the band. The following track “Flesh Wound,” has certain hints to prior tunes in the band’s career. It has the same feel as “Thick N’ Thin” off of Shake Your Money Maker and a nod to harmonica greatness on “Thorn In My Pride” off of The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion.



Finally, that brings fans to track nine, “Follow the Moon.” The catchy, hoppy lyrics of “Rock ‘n’ roll has made a mess of you” is extremely catchy and it’s interesting to see the Crowes get in touch with their inner country. This tune has rather interesting lyrics of “See the sinners shine, baby,” which allows Bereciartua to provide an electronic feel of a guitar solo that hasn’t been heard on a Black Crowes tune yet. I love how in the chorus, Robinson speeds the vocals up but regroups towards the end with the rest of the band. It has a live feeling which makes it sound like the band is screeching right in front of you.

The Black Crowes have always stuck to their southern and country roots. Sometimes some albums were more grassroots like the aforementioned Before the Frost…Until the Freeze or to pop-like, like By Your Side. Regardless, this record is a return to form for the band. This album is perfect and is such a refreshing return to their original sound.

Each song is unique and it’s like taking a road trip down memory lane, revisiting old sounds from the band’s discography. Whether it’s a ballad or a straightforward rock and roll song, The Black Crowes have returned to form on Happiness Bastards and there is no sign of the band slowing down.

If their upcoming tour is just as great as this record was then it’s only a matter of time before the Crowes are forced to go back into the studio to pop out another genius record like this one. The overall production from producer Jay Joyce is brilliant and he helps guide the band to dig into untapped territory while keeping them to their southern roots. The Black Crowes have retaken flight with Happiness Bastards with no clear time to descend back to the ground, they’ll be flying forever with amazing records like this one.









1. Bedside Manners

2. Rats and Clowns

3. Cross Your Fingers

4. Wanting and Waiting

5. Wilted Rose (feat. Lainey Wilson)

6. Dirty Cold Sun

7. Bleed It Dry

8. Flesh Wound

9. Follow the Moon

10. Kindred Friend



I was fortunate enough to be present at the release party on March 15, 2024

at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Checkout the live review and images HERE



The Black Crowes are:

Chris Robinson – Vocals

Rich Robinson – Guitars/Background vocals

Sven Pipien – Bass/Background vocals

Cully Symington – Drums

Nico Bereciartua – Guitars/Background vocals

Erik Deutsch – Keyboards

Mackenzie Adams – Backing Vocals

Lesley Grant – Backing Vocals






Follow The Black Crowes Online: