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Brian Douglas Philips

Bullets & Bones

(Self-released; US: 21 Feb 2008; UK: Unavailable)

With his pure vocals and good looks, Brian Douglas Phillips is like a one-man version of Rascal Flatts. You know, if Rascal Flatts ever departed from their hideous brand of mawkish soft rock and decided to sing the stuff that real country music is made of: love gone wrong, violent death, sin, and salvation. Bullets & Bones, Phillips’ first full length release, covers all of these topics in a neat little package of Southern Gothic, right down to the disturbing spoken word tale of abuse and murder unearthed from who knows where. High point of the album is “New Body Boogie,” a track that makes the eternal hereafter sound like a pretty good time: “Angels gonna sing / Gonna shuffle and shake their robes/ I can boogie all the old and agin’ / From my bones”. At times the music is so crystal clear that it belies the dark lyrics; a little more rawness would be nice, if only to keep some of the arrangements from sounding like open mic night in a church basement somewhere. That being said, this is still a solid collection of songs, and with a few more years under his belt, Brian Douglas Phillips should become a musical force to be reckoned with.

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Juli Thanki is a graduate student studying trauma and memory in the postbellum South. She tries to live her life by the adage "What Would Dolly Parton Do?" but has yet to build an eponymous theme park, undergo obscene amounts of plastic surgery, or duet with Porter Wagoner (that last one might prove a little difficult, but nevertheless she perseveres). When not writing for PopMatters, Juli can generally be found playing the banjo incompetently, consuming copious amounts of coffee, and tanning in the blue glow of her laptop.


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