You know the kind of rock \'n\' roll many wags claim nobody makes anymore, the kind with the grit, stubble and tough grace that went out with bell bottoms and tube tops? Well, be still wags because Captain Soularcat has made a doozy that could easily have come out on Swan Song in the days of the great shirtless Robert Plant. And the best part is this is no fake suede \'n\' denim reproduction. While the Captain dips into Nothin\' Fancy Skynyrd, Free\'s \"Wishing Well\" and takes pinches from Dickey Betts and Waylon Jennings, The Rise (self-released) generates a natural buzz. There\'s just no doubting the sincerity or skill this quartet possesses; it hums in every note, channeling the heavier, edgier English take on blues-rock and wedding it to Southern boogie.
Salaciously tasty guitarist-songwriter Benji Shanks told JamBase, \"We did the whole album to tape. No Pro-Tools or computers involved in the recording and tracking of the album. Mixed one song at a time by hand. No cuts, pastes, edits, pitch changes, tempo fixes, etc. And I\'m a vintage freak. All vintage guitars, amps, organ, wurlitzer, tape echo, stomp boxes, you name it.\" The album was mastered by Rodney Mills, who worked the boards with Skynyrd and the Atlanta Rhythm Section back in the day and more recently with Scrapomatic, Rose Hill Drive and Shooter Jennings. The whole thing ties together, humming like the best Bad Company disc you\'ve never heard. The Free/Company references aren\'t accidental. There\'s a sensuality and a manliness to Captain Soularcat that brings Paul Rodgers\' old bands to mind. Where so many bands today sound like they haven\'t dropped both testicles, Soularcat has plenty of hair on their chest, singing \'em with full grown depth, life dripping in the elongated syllables and inspired breakouts. In fact, each cut rewards taking the full trip because they hide compact but cool little touches in the tail sections, like the distorted organ cry on \"Dead End Hell,\" the Asleep at the Wheel level harmonies on \"Lost Along The Way\" or the climbing to heaven guitar at the end of \"Life\'s Deal.\"
The mood shifts between being surprised by hope and battered by long days, which sounds about right for most of us in a given week. In some measure, their lyrics echo the plainspoken wisdom and street level veracity of Ronnie Van Zant. In my book, that\'s a serious fucking accomplishment, and their ability to pair that sensibility to an unforced, individual rock sound that still mirrors the great vinyl era furthers how impressed I am with this release. Shifting between great rockers like \"Snake Pocket Blues\" and thoughtful reveries like \"Reasons For Highways,\" The Rise is the kind of album you may find yourself keeping in easy reach, ready for the stereo anytime other music is annoying you and you need a reminder of rock\'s basic joys.
JamBase | The Good Foot
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[Published on: 9/23/08]