Sometimes it pays to acknowledge your heroes. With Hard Lessons, the follow-up to last year’s excellent five-track EP Wise Up!, the trio from Lansing, Michigan, have recorded three soulful garage gems by delving into the back catalogue of Neil Young. A raucous, bluesy version of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” (which also appears on the limited edition Headed For the Ditch: A Michigan Tribute to Neil Young compiled by Motor City’s Casionauts John Krohn) opens this self-released CD complete with a fat reggae bass line that is underscored by short bursts of ‘60s-style organ and topped by Augie “Gin” Visocchi and Korin “Ko Ko Louise” Cox trading deep-down vocal duties. The vocal trade-off continues on a slow groove, extended “Lansing Rock City Version” of the same song, however, this time the intense rifling drums of Christophe Zajac-Denek, otherwise known as “the Anvil”, are taken up a notch and provide ear-pounding accompaniment to Visocchi’s tortured vocals and Ko Ko Louise’s soulful stylings. A haunting, stripped-down offering of “Harvest Moon”, featuring Detroit band the Sights’ frontman Eddie Baranek, brings things to a close with only acoustic guitar and tentative backing vocals to keep Ko Ko Louise’s sultry voice company. A thin but tasty slice of garage nirvana.
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