CD Review of Songs from the Porch by Scotty Don’t
Scotty Don’t: Songs from the Porch
Recommended if you like
Better Than Ezra, Police,
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Label
independent
Scotty Don’t:
Songs from the Porch

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

I
t’s rare that a tribute band has the ability – or, for that matter, the inclination – to transcend its original mission and accelerate to the point where it’s ready to forge its own identity. So credit Scotty Don’t with making that transition, evolving from its initial incarnation as Badfish: a Tribute to Sublime into a solid road-ready band able to tout its own tunes. Not that a band as worthy as Sublime didn’t deserve the tribute treatment; in fact, some would argue that the group’s eclectic qualities were sadly underrated. Still, any outfit operating strictly from a tribute template does tend to expose its own limitations when it comes to concocting original offerings. (Notwithstanding the fact that it seems all the rage these days to recruit singers from these imitation outfits to sub for the real deal – Journey and Yes being more recent examples.)

It’s admirable, then, that Scotty Don’t opted to express its individual identity via a self-titled EP two years ago and record a full-length debut, Songs from the Porch, more recently. While the title conjures up the image of a rootsy gathering fueled by fiddles, banjos and barrels of moonshine, the album reflects a more mainstream Americana, the kind of songs gleaned from playing bars, clubs and the roadhouse circuit with ever-increasing regularity. Earnest yet infectious, it demonstrates a desire to rouse the crowds and earn some cred as heartland heroes in the process. The band falls back on some familiar turf – revved-up, raspy rockers like "Back Porch" and "What I Need," the smooth grooves and reggae rhythms of "Movies on TV" and "So Easy," not to mention the prerequisite road weary troubadour’s tale "Wake Up." Fortunately, the band has enough spirit and spunk to make these styles its own, displaying an everyman stance that would feel perfectly at home performed in a neighborhood tavern for an intimate but enthusiastic following.

For the moment, Scotty Don’t may have arrived at awkward juncture, one that begs the question of whether they ought to continue their ongoing homage to Sublime, veer towards their original material, or carry on with a mixture of both. Based on the eclectic effort they provide here, it’s anyone’s guess. But whatever avenue they choose, the new album reflects an affirmative attitude, one that shows Scotty Don’t have the wherewithal to do whatever they want to do.

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