Thursday, April 11, 2013
Album review: Whiskey Folk Ramblers make Westerns cool again in Lonesome Underground
It's available on iTunes on April 12.
Whiskey Folk Ramblers' newest record, The Lonesome Underground, combines the worlds of dusty Westerns and introspective, sometimes somber songwriting for a full-length album perfect for late-night escapades.
It’s been three years since the Fort Worth musicians released new material; during that time they’ve lost “key members” (as stated in the press release) including Patrick Adams and Richard Lee Davenport, and battled everything from divorces to discarded recording sessions. But tough times only make some bands stronger, giving way to a solid album filled with the same swinging tunes that set WFR on the Dallas/Fort Worth map.
Front man Tyler Rougeux’s trademark guttural vocals continue to lead the punchy melodies, somehow adding a laid-back mentality to the peppy instrumentation. “Mad Men’s Eyes” resonates this contradiction with a rockabilly approach that’ll get your boots stomping using a roaring trumpet and lively upright bass. Writer and director Quentin Tarantino could do wonders with “Can You Drive My Car” — it encapsulates his riveting, energy-junkie mindset with thought-out solos that’ll keep you out of your seat.
There’s no doubt these guys know how to own their individual tools, whether that be a banjo, piano or fiddle. Even with the addition of Cory Graves (trumpet, piano and baritone) and Chris Carmichael (drums and backing vocals), there’s a level of artistry and experimentation that saturates the recording. Opening track “Long Way Back” wastes no time by accurately displaying their saloon-style vibe with a heavy reliance on the piano—a sound they’ve perfected over the years. Rougeux’s shaky and sly tone slips out the side of his mouth as if he’s just woken from a deep sleep, mixing in that mysterious element any good rockabilly or alt-country group needs.
What’s surprising is the fact that they didn’t rely on these faster, more excited tracks that they know so well. Slower numbers “Bad Rise” and “Old Lost Tears” single out key instruments like the trumpet and give Rougeux a chance to relay his somber tales of better days, reflecting their deeper focus on storytelling.
So if that three-year gap has been on your mind and you’re ready for some new Whiskey Folk Ramblers tunes, head to The Where House in Fort Worth on April 12 for their first album release party; the second celebration will be at Three Links in Dallas. A digital copy of The Lonesome Underground will be available on iTunes April 12.
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