CD Review of Silver Mountain by Deadstring Brothers
Recommended if you like
Rolling Stones, The Faces,
Black Crowes
Label
Bloodshot Records
Deadstring Brothers:
Silver Mountain

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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I
n a time when the beast of rock and roll is searching for footing, trying like hell to find its next 20-year domain, few bands are offering much hope. The White Stripes get many headlines, and deservedly so in most cases. Foo Fighters remain a gold standard in the arena rock category. The newer cash crop includes Kings of Leon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and a dark horse coming on strong called Deadstring Brothers. If you missed their 2006 debut, Starving Winter Report, then you missed one of the unblemished guitar rock masterpieces in recent memory. Clean, simple, unspoiled, and unapologetic. These Detroit natives keep the production uncomplicated, damn near analog, while adding sound by way of three new Brothers who signed on this year. Ultimately, Silver Mountaincomes off every bit as urgent and original as their debut, even if a tad grown-up.

Brothers Spencer and Jeff Cullum and Patrick Kenneally join founders Kurt Marschke, Masha, and E Travis Harrett following months of collaboration in London, making Deadstring Brothers Version 2007 a well-rounded, hard hitting six-piece, heavy on late 60s/early 70s riff rock a la the Faces and, obviously, the Stones. To see these guys (and gal) play live is to see their commitment to soul, Delta blues, and countrified rock in a mashing, straight-forward delivery that is pure Black Crowes.

Comparisons and influences aside, these new songs are boldly impressive. Kenneally’s B3 organ is a welcome and oh-so-natural complement to the first record’s formula. The loose boogie-woogie opener “Ain’t No Hidin’ Love” is a perfect case in point, featuring Masha Marijeh on lead vocal. Having graduated from a mere background role on Winter Report, Marijeh delivers big time on the first single “Meet Me Down at Heavy Load” (an ode to the London club where the “new” band met and reformed), as well as the scorching “Queen of the Scene,” yelling “Honey, honey, you’re such a fucking dream!” with a testosterone-packed punch that most men couldn’t throw. She even nails her best Janis Joplin impression in a shared vocal with Marschke on “Tennessee Sure Enough,” an all-hands-on-deck jam and one of the Mountain’s highlights.

The multi-instrumentalism and old school throwback sound is what sets this new lineup apart from not only the 2006 Brothers, but nearly any other band on the planet right now. They’re blues (“Rollin’ Blues”). They’re country (“You Look Like the Devil”). But they’re mostly cornfield rock and roll. It’s been years, if not decades, since a warm piano and slide guitar ballad like “If You Want Me To” commanded such attention on an otherwise gritty and ragged rock record. Neil Young, Gram Parsons, the Allman Brothers, Rod Stewart – these acts should all be mighty proud to find their legacy living and breathing 30-some years later. Detroit Rock City should be equally proud.

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