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Taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

THE TERRY Eckard Band — Rebel on the Highway

One might gloss over the name Terry Eckard Band (www. theterryeckardband.com) and assume it to be just another beer-soaked cover band riding the weekend bar circuit, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Steeped in the kind of Southern roots-boogie that was presumed to be lost with the end of the Molly Hatchet and .38 Special era of the ’80s, his second effort, Rebel on the Highway, finds Eckard venturing far away from the counterfeit rebel rock that inevitably sunk the genre in the ’80s. Blanket Southern hubris is supplanted by a kind of localized pride that rather shows though in the everyman humility of his lyrical themes. The album’s opener, “Hey!” is a breezy love song that describes a series of come-and-go highway romances, but still takes time to introduce the listener to the first of many guitar styles in which Eckard excels. The classic finger-style found there quickly gives way to a decidedly blues-rock kind of riffage on the album’s anthemic title track, where the album’s pervasive highway travelogue theme hits its gritty high point. Eckard jumps back and forth between sizzling electric fireworks and contemplative acoustic picking, but occasionally he tries on different personas such as the barebones blues howler “Loves’ Got Me Crying” and the jazzy “Maria’s Fire.” He may not have the name recognition to garner more than a passing glance on billboards, but fans of striking guitar work will absolutely find something to enjoy on Rebel on the Highway. 66/100

SupErcHunk — Leaves in the Gutter

Aging hipsters everywhere rejoice! Your ’90s indierock standard bearers have returned after a lengthy self-imposed hiatus. Their first multi-track release in more than eight years, Leaves in the Gutter, is really just a five-song EP composed of songs that may seem like a colossal tease, but according to singer Mac McCaughan, is basically the band just clearing out the vault of unreleased work before releasing a new, proper album in the coming year. Given the dated qualification of the material, it certainly sounds like classic Superchunk and some of the material has actually been seen previous, albeit obscure release. Some might remember “Misfits & Mistakes” from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie a few years ago, complete with vocals by Meatwad. It’s inclusion on the EP only serves to give it a proper place among the Superchunk catalog rather than being a footnote on the band’s discography. Though its hook also lends the album its title, it’s still not much more than a throwaway used to remind fans that the band still existed during a movie that most probably saw. The album’s opener “Learned to Surf” is vintage Chunk, however, with big, rising guitar melodies and self-effacing lyrics. They tack on an acoustic version for the final track, as is their propensity with many of their great songs, which finds them at their most starkly minimal. There’s a definite sense that this release is just a quick-hitter in anticipation of something greater, but Leaves in the Gutter should certainly have a solid foothold in the upper echelon of the band’s catalog.
75/100

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