Taking a Listen
Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers — Inside Track
When you’ve been playing the same rough-hewn blues style for over 25 years, you’re allowed to take a little creative reach every so often. It’s not always guaranteed to work, however. That seems to be the case with Jimmy Thackery’s 11 th album with back-up band the Drivers. Oh, the hot guitar playing on which he’s built his name is still there. On most tracks, you just have to sit through four minutes of Saltine songwriting in order to get the meaty trademark chops that his fans have come to expect. Thackery seems to be responding to past criticism that his songs are merely vehicles used to display his deft guitar skills and there may be some truth to that. But when you have a good thing going, why mess with it? He responds with lyrics that seem to have been written a thousand times over on tracks such as “Change the Rules.” There are still some great reasons to listen to this album, though ironically they possess the very elements of his previous work that he’s tried to escape. “Landlocked” is a plucky little surf-guitar instrumental that would sound right at home on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. There’s also some very poignant moments on “Blinking of an Eye,” Thackery’s tribute to a friend’s late wife. There does seem to be several discrepancies with the outside cover track listing and the actual order of the songs. The first and last two numbers seem to be the only songs named correctly. Maybe it’s his subtle way of humoring those who contend that his songwriting really doesn’t matter, just crank up the guitar.
And The Moneynotes — New Cornucopia!
What would happen if Elvis Costello, the Clash and Ween got together to make a vaudevillian record with bluegrass undertones? Probably something along the lines of And The Moneynotes’ full-length debut New Cornucopia! Actually, that title is actually a very apt descriptor of what to expect. It rolls together an eclectic mix of country, swing, surf, jazz and outright garage-rock into what they bill as bluegrass-pop. The band began as Dr. Horsemachine and the Moneynotes before retooling into the current incarnation after the retirement of bassist Austin Smith, but most of the sound is the same. Though there isn’t actually a lot of bluegrass to be heard, save for maybe “The Amazing Properties of Chauncy Brown.” Heavy leanings to ragtime piano and violin meld with the strong vocal harmonies of guitarists Mike Williams (acoustic) and Mike Quinn (electric) to create a work with the undeniable swagger of a prohibition-era speakeasy. New Cornucopa! is quality from top to bottom, with each track possessing its own unique personality and sound. The songwriting is quirky, irreverent and sometimes strange, particularly on “Hornaplenny.” The line “They got one bad guy, one fat guy, one virgin, one hooker/One suit and everybody’s trying to use it” reflects a place that’s one with everything, while the song itself seems to be an amalgamation of all musical styles used on previous tracks. It’s hard to say what to expect upon your first listen of this album. But just like the town of Hornaplenny, it definitely has a little bit of everything.
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