This Athens, Ohio trio does country the way country should be. The Elroys are not the tight jeans and big hat wearing country music of radio and video. They are the dusty, twangy, liquor and heartbreak filled music that the term â€˜country music’ still evokes for me, but for few others. You will be blown away by Bram Riddlebarger’s tunes and Johnny Borchard’s smoking steel guitar. The band is hot, their sound is classic, Riddlebarger with a vocal style that begs for a yodel here and there, and Borchard’s mellifluous licks melts your ears and breaks your heart. This band deserves your attention. From the first nasally breath of Scaredy Blues, the Wailin’ Elroys take the Hank/Hankcock bull by the horns and make Route 33 a low-key, well produced masterpiece with a hidden punk spine.
Hot Rod Road is a gentle warning about being somewhere you don’t belong. The guitar picking styling of the “Preacher” Zeb Dewar, could not be a better fit for the very retro Wailin’ Elroys sound. “Your girls’ waiting for you back at the bar â€" Don’t go it’s not a hot rod car,” flattop guitarist and prodigy singer Bram Riddlebarger moans in a faux-female voice. Route 33, the Tom Sawyer signature song for the Elroys, is an upbeat hillbilly salute to the other route, Route 33. The tight, toe-tapping, non-pedal steel guitar sounds of Johnny Borchard give this song the ghostly train journey sound that has made vintage honky tonk just that, honky tonk. Meanwhile the backbone of doghouse-er Justin Rayner gives this hit song the thump and bump it needs to sound so true.
The tempo slows a bit for Keep My Feet on the Ground, a honky tonk whiner dedicated to finding a honky tonk girl. The pace holds as Pacific Rails rolls past the station as a homesick blues train ride.
Further on down the track, up goes the tempo again with Because of You. Another reason to drink proves itself true as this traditional, vintage country song say’s, “Because of you, well I’m drinking again. Because of you, I’m lost in sin,” Riddlebarger explains. Drip Drip Drip, my favorite track, because it makes me hold my mouth funny when I sing the chorus, is a bass laden ditty that ain’t about whisky or beer or driving or gears, it’s a song about tears. This mid-tempo crybaby pulls at the strings of a good ol’ fashion broken heart. The coolest track on the album is the hidden #15; Real Gone Daddy is a fast paced driving song. “I got a $10 dollar bill and quart of beer, just sit back honey let me steer,” Riddlebarger’s graveled voice demands.
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