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Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers

The Devil You Know

(Alligator; US: 21 Jan 2014; UK: 20 Jan 2014)

Let The Good Times Commence

Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers play a rave-up brand of bluesy rock, with plenty of squalling guitar and clever lyrics, a la Too Slim and the Tail Draggers or just about any thoroughly awesome band you ever caught playing in a bar on the wrong side of midnight. Album opener “The Devil You Know” hits the ground running, all swagger and sly lyrical winks and six-string ass-kickery. It’s the strongest tune in the set, with Castro’s wide-open throat mirroring his unleashed guitar.


But there are plenty of nuggets to savor: the chirping organ of “Second Mind”, the sweet slide guitar of “The Whale Have Swallowed Me”, and especially “Two Steps Forward”, with its harmonica skronk and badass riffs. There’s a good range of moods and approaches on display, but it all adds up to a rocking good time. Say hello to your newest undiscovered guitar hero.

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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