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BR549: Tangled in the Pines
Buy! - (Dualtone)
I wondered what would happen to BR549 after the departures of Gary Bennett and Jay McDowell, and now I know: they're a much better band. Chris Scruggs and former Seattleite Geoff Firebaugh have fit right in, and Chuck Mead's turning into one mighty fine songwriter, focusing on working-class struggles, while also honestly tackling the band's own hardships and limitations through the years. Tangled In the Pines sticks to their strengths: honky tonk and rockabilly, and delivers from beginning to end. While the sound's still pretty traditional, they've continued to move beyond the campy retro shtick that made some of their earlier stuff a little emotionally lightweight. When the new album rocks (which is does quite a bit), it rocks something fierce -- the guitar parts in particularly have some of the rawest, dirtiest tones to ever grace a BR549 record. Scruggs is one monster guitarist, and also a fine songwriter in his own right. My favorite BR549 album to date. 4/8/2004 - Don Slack