Monday, November 14, 2011

Ballad of a Southern Band: Whiskey Myers

 Glorious Shredding

Whiskey Myers is the best newish old band you have never heard. Their sophomore album, Firewater was released in April 2011, but unless you frequent bars in Texas you won’t know this. The Inky Jukebox thinks this is a problem that needs to be fixed, and pronto. Firewater is a blistering collection of classic Southern rock that physically leaps out of your speakers and takes up a new home inside your body cavity — one wonders how they manage to get away with putting out a vinyl version, because the sheer force of the licks on it will surely warp it as soon as you take it for a spin.

The chaps in the band look like the musicians whose legacy they follow. You can hear a little bit of a whole lot of pedigree in their songs — in the arrangements, playing, singing, lyrics, and pace. Cody Cannon's voice has a smooth velvety tone. Unless you saw how young they are and just heard the record, you might think it was pulled from the vaults of circa 1972. You can definitely hear the influence of Leroy Powell and his sojourn with Shooter's Jennings' band in the production. Here’s what The Inky Jukebox hears:

Ram Jam, Foghat, Steppenwolf, Golden Earring, Skynyrd, Humble Pie, Buffalo Springfield, Bad Company, Free, the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, the Steeldrivers, Black Label Society, and Clutch.

CMT Pure is playing their current single, “Ballad of a Southern Man” with its nice video, but if you go to Whiskey Myers’s YouTube channel, you will find a series of acoustic performances from Firewater that are well worth listening to so that you can hear how well the stripped down versions of their songs hold up. Of particular note is the beautifully tender slide guitar. For a band whose songs can rock so hard, it’s nice to hear harmonica being employed so well. When they do take on a ballad — “Virginia” — its harmonies are sweet with a stunning set of overlapping guitar riffs you will be rewarded for listening to on headphones.

The Inky Jukebox recommends the following tracks: “Different Mold,” “Ballad of a Southern Man,” “Virginia,” “Turn It Up,” and “Strange Dreams,” though all of the album’s tracks are stellar. “Song For You,” a quiet slow burner, has been treated differently in that it features a crackly backing to replicate the sound of a dusty LP. This might seem annoying to anyone young enough never to have heard actual dusty LPs being played. The Inky Jukebox wonders how it sounds on the vinyl version. “Anna Marie” is a bit clappy and shouty and feels out of place with the rest of these tracks.

Whiskey Myers is a band on a small label and their online presence could use some (more) professional guidance, as what exists seems uncoordinated without a unified design. Their website could use some regular maintenance. (Guys — check out Will Hoge’s site for inspiration.) Here is their facebook page.

It’s almost impossible to listen to this record and not want to be in your old jeans, boots and hat rocking out to this band in one of those bars, bottle of beer swinging between your thumb and forefinger. If you close your eyes, you can be. If you have the chance, go see them play. 

Buy this album now. Right now.

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