With a name like Ten Foot Polecats, I was expecting something great, awful, or otherwise revelatory. What I got instead with their sophomore LP Undertow was something merely so-so, neither inspiring nor overtly offensive. Musically, it’s all blues rock played like punk, which sounds a whole lot better in print than it does on a stereo. Simplicity and blunt force are some of punk’s primary charms, but the blues, though formally simple, are all about emotional nuance. Punk isn’t given to such subtleties, and this effort suffers accordingly. Granted, there are pleasures to be found here (Jim Chilson’s lead guitar, all fuzz and distortion, in particular), but they’re surface deep. What’s more, Boston-born vocalist Jay Scheffler is some kind of phony. His attempts at a Southern tone are not just bad, they’re insulting. Imitation might well be the sincerest form of flattery, but only if you’re good at it. If you’re not, it’s soulless parody, and though I don’t think these guys mean it that way, the effect remains.
// Notes from the Road
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