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The Dirty Guv'nahs

Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies

(Dualtone; US: 14 Aug 2012; UK: 15 Aug 2012)

With shades of the Black Crowes, John Cougar Mellencamp, and early era Allman Brothers, come the Dirty Guv’nahs, a Knoxville, Tennessee six-piece outfit who raise a fiery rock and roll riot on their debut full-length Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies. Over the course of 14 tracks, these affable fellows make a perfect soundtrack for the dog days of summer. It’s music that can be played at the beach, in the boat out on the lake, or over the deck speakers as burgers and hot dogs grill away. The band used a lucrative Kickstarter campaign to fund the album and has since garnered a distribution partnership with Dualtone Records. Their world is starting to expand a bit beyond the Southeast Region and after a few listens, it’s not too difficult to picture them warming up the stage for similar, yet more recognized acts like Grace Potter & the Nocturnals or Brandi Carlile.


Here, the Dirty Guv’nahs have established a nice, middle groove and resist the urge to fiddle with experimentation or far-out concepts. For the most part this sound usually works as up-tempo tracks like “Don’t Give Up on Me”, “Good Luck Charm”, and “This Is My Heart” serve as admirably paced rock anthems. Elsewhere, “Fairlane” adds a bit of blue-eyed soul, and later, “Dear Alice” takes the tempo down a notch with a pretty, yet understated piano leading the lyrics along the way. These are the sounds of a band finding their niche and working towards getting better with each successive track. Unfortunately, not everything works. There a few times when the band reaches too far into the alt-rock zone frequented by modern-day arena acts. On chugging rockers “Temptation” and “Child”, the band reaches for a sound that simply isn’t there: aiming for grit, but coming up more like Foo Fighters-lite. On “3000 Miles” and “Lead Kindly Light”, the gentlemen shoot more for a Coldplay/U2 template, a sound that really doesn’t come out all that great anymore from the original practitioners, let alone another band. But, despite the missteps, Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies is a solid, if unspectacular listen. It is an album that will turn some ears and invoke some humming along and foot tapping before the summer activities finish up and the air turns a bit chillier. It seems like they have a future, so maybe their sound will continue to evolve and expand, with the net cast a little wider, and the edgier tunes coming out more authentically.

Rating:

Jeff Strowe works as a counselor in New York City, but lives across the mighty Hudson River in Jersey City, NJ. In addition to listening to a lot of music, he spends entirely too much time watching baseball and late night talk shows. One of these days, he'll use that time to master a foreign language, become a novice guitarist, or finally read that copy of Crime and Punishment that longingly stares at him from the bookshelf.


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