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Michael Rank and Stag

Kin

(Louds Hymn; US: 14 Feb 2012; UK: Import)

Musical grab-bag hits some high notes

Michael Rank is something of a musical chameleon. Sometimes he sounds an awful lot like Mick Jagger, other times he could be a stand-in for Tom Petty or Eddie Veddar or Cracker’s David Lowery. There are moments when he even sounds like Michael Rank, as on album opener “Tenderhook”, a rousing scorcher of a song that is, not coincidentally, one of the best here. “Sea Measures”, which kicks off the second of this two-disc set, is another highlight.


This is not to say that Rank is merely an impersonator, trying on various rock and rock guises; his songs are too well crafted for that, and he surrounds himself with capable musicians who lend his rootsy country-rock an appealing listenability. That appeal is definitely limited, though, by an apparent unwillingness or inability to stop mimicking the guys in his record collection, whether it’s the Stones in “On the Bleed” and “Tongue”, Cracker in “The Goat”, Petty in “Pilgrims” or Veddar in “Gun Breath” and “Arrowheads”. Memo to Rank: when you sound like yourself, as on stomping album closer “Here Comes the Light”, you sound pretty damn good.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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