Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two Times Sound Crowing

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW – “Tennessee Pusher” CD ’08 (Nettwerk , US) – It’s a funny thing, this music writing gig. One of the things that always gets me, surprises me every time is when it brings me up short. What I mean is, just when I start getting cocky, think I know a little something, I get hit with a great band and find out they’re already on their 3rd album. Yeah, I guess Ray was sleeping for the first 2. One of the reasons, I like to tell myself, is that I’m into a myriad styles: metal, hard rock, punk, Celtic, bluegrass, prog…. Who could keep up with all that, right? Fact is, nobody can catch everything, even with the Internet. While that may be an occasional blow to my ego (aw, poor Ray!) it’s also great to find out about a band I had no idea existed. Enter OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW, from Nashville TN. Yes, “Tennessee Pusher” is their 3rd album and while it may be the first of their’s I’ve heard, it won’t be the last. Referred to by their own producer as “The Clash of bluegrass,” they actually live up to that name on this release. Coming straight out of the gate with “Alabama High-Test,” these guys rev up as much (if not more) energy with guitar, banjo & fiddle than many a punk band has done with a banged-up Tele and Hi-Watt. By turn, OCMS can also send things down dark and solemn roads, as the title cut and “Highway Halo” prove, all laced with black, dusty hats and veiled references to rusty railroad lines. Yes, much as The Clash were at their best when fueling the raw fire of punk with the verve of reggae, so OCMS deftly brings together that same rebellious spirit with the musical spark of bluegrass and the lyrical wit of The Boss. Nice. BOSS-LEVEL GRASS

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM – “The ’59 Sound” CD ’08 (Side One Dummy, US) – And, for Part Two of this edition of “Something-Way-Cool-Sneaking-Up-On-Know-It-All-Ray-And-Biting-Him-On-The-Ass,” we come to the 3rd release (and 2nd full-length one) by New Jersey’s scintillating GASLIGHT ANTHEM. Hailing from New Brunswick NJ, this quartet could slip mid-genre into something between indie rock and the Asbury Park sound, with Classic Rock’s description as a cross between Bruce S. and The Replacements as apt as any…and yet…. There is something more, much more, to these guys, something that makes me keep spinning this sucker more and more and that something is songs with hooks as sharp as a newly-stropped blade. Just listen to opener “Great Expectations” and see if you can get that chorus out of your head. When singer/guitarist Brian Fallon belts out “And I saw tail lights, last night, in a dream about my first wife,” I’m pounding the dashboard as visions of Seven Nations’ Kirk McLeod and songwriting on that very high level flash through my head. Simply put, THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM can sing about anything from old white Lincolns to Miles Davis to cowgirls and the results are the same: pure gold. KICK-ASS GAS

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