Chris Denney, main man for Denney & the Jets, seemed to have lived hard young, as stories from the band’s debut, Mexican Coke, feel both young and weary. Denney recorded the album in five days, and the quick turnaround gives these dusty tracks a vibrant life. These songs shift from bluesy garage rock on “Water to Wine” and “Bye Bye Queenie” to the swampy country crunch of “Mama’s Got the Blues” and the twanging balladry of “Runnin’ Through the Woods”. There’s a taut center to these rambling songs, a zeal smoldering under the seemingly laid-back surface of these tracks. That combination makes the record easy listening, good for a party or a beer on the porch.
But while Denney and company have personality and energy to spare on their debut, these songs are also trying to find their own voice among all these traditions. The more spare moments here, “Pain Pills” and “Runnin’ Through the Woods” in particular, feel the most personal and let us past the veneer of musical tradition and into something true. More of that going forward is what Denney & the Jets needs. For now, they’ve got a solid debut to build on.