From the bowels of Port Arthur, Texas, comes a hard rocking quartet with AOR written all over them. One listen to “Wings” or “Catch The Bus” could send an unsuspecting listener to the store looking for the new Black Crowes record, but it’s just Podunk showing their influence.
The first single, “Wings”, captures the pulsating heavy guitar sound that FM rock stations crave. However, there’s a big difference between memorable songs and temporary riffs; where “Wings” has a decent hook; the follow-up “Dashboard Mary” is a letdown. It’s like warm Budweiser—good for the moment, but you’d rather have a cold Heineken. Better offerings are aboard, though. “Summer Song” and the aforementioned “Catch the Bus” have the hooks and the energy to stand out among the usual FM fare. With the infectious “In the Middle” and rockers like “A Little More” and “The Great Musical Suicide,” radio could milk Throwin’ Bones for a while. With the exception of “Us” (“Me and my friends / Sitting on the porch / Thinking about dinner / And we got some smokes”), the songwriting is pretty consistent throughout the record. Check out “Colorblind” to see a good example of how to cover a strong subject (racism) with subtlety.
The Podunk boys make good use of a string quartet, a rare feat for a band that thinks being compared to Shannon Hoon is a compliment. On both the fragile “Home” (nice homage to the new baby) and the mid-tempo blues rocker “In The Middle,” the embellishment starts on the second chorus and fills out the sound beautifully. “Boomerang,” which initially sounds like a cop of Zep’s “Levee” and Grand Funk’s “I’m Your Captain” takes it a step further; the strings actually play the lead over the rhythm of the core band. Nice touch!
Vocalist Jason Touchette is emotive and unafraid to jump into his upper range for effect. If the song is loud and heavy, this means skating in that seventies’ AOR band arena that either gets you pumped up or gives you a twitch. But the minute long closer, “Ditty,” demonstrates both the quality of his voice and the versatility of the band. It might be the best song on the record.
Throwin’ Bones is the band’s second record and a serious shot at a big break. Radio has jumped on “Wings” for starters, and a summer-long tour with Kings X should get them out in front of hordes of fist-pumping rock fans who will either make them or break them. I’d throw my bones on the former.
// Notes from the Road
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