Real down-home Southern Rock debut
Whisper it, but Southern Rock is making a comeback. A few years ago, most British fans of the genre would have rather have said they were a paid-up member of Justin Bieber's fan club than admit that they loved Southern Rock. It's now officially acceptable, and judging by the increasing numbers of imports and copyists even popular. Preacher Stone are just such a band. Steeped in the spirit of traditional Southern Rock, don't expect this to further the boundaries of musical invention. Just kick back and enjoy.
These guys are so at ease with their down-home roots, they even named their album as a tribute to their personal favourite watering hole, Uncle Buck's All American Pub. 'Uncle Buck's Vittles' is a straight-up collection of country-tinged hard rock in the same vein as Skynyrd or the more contemporary (and marketable) Black Stone Cherry. If they were any more authentic they'd be fried in a special coating. Opening salvo 'Can't Keep A Good Man Down' sounds like it's been around forever. At first this can seem a bit 'oh no, here we go again', but given time the twin guitar powerhouse sound and good time attitude win you over. And it owes a debt to traditional blues, hinting at undertones of Bad Company or even the Black Crowes, with that husky, soulful style of vocal.
'Carved In Stone' is a unsubtle but touching tribute to young lives taken by war, a subject that not many bands can pull of successfully but is particularly significant to both American and British music today. 'Come On In' is a stripped back ZZ Top stomper, while 'Early Morning Rise' offers a much harder rock sound. It's not sophisticated. In fact, my favourite lyric has to be "like a two-by-four upside your head/the truth is gonna hurt" from 'Nuff Said' (a contender for cheesiest song on the album). But that's why we like it. This is an album that you can stamp your feet and shake your head to. But it's also got the odd sentimental lighters-in-the-air moment like the countrified 'Hand On The Bible'. But it's the whiskey-soaked version of 'Come Together' that surprises me – something about the band and this version just sum up the spirit of the song.
Like most Southern rockers they're probably pretty immune to criticism (and God bless 'em for it). Enjoy 'Uncle Buck's Vittles' for what it is, and all the gutsy guitar riffage that goes along with it.