Imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery—or the easiest form of larceny. This debut falls between.
On the one hand it sounds like a direct descendant of Bruce Springsteen's The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle—not bad material to draw from, and at least half of this record is good enough to stand on its own.
The first five songs are about as much fun as scruffy rock bands like this are allowed to have. Centered around the lead bleat of singer/songwriter Luther Russell, who sounds sort of like a rhino in heat, the tunes are rough-around-the-edges rock like early Springsteen. Mix in the bounce of a piano on "No More Booze (on Tuesdays)" or the wail of a Hammond organ on the easygoing "Little Miss Fortune," and you're close to the charm and grit of Boss tunes like "Rosalita" or "The E Street Shuffle."
On the other hand most of the remaining songs are brooding numbers that ramble on until you forget you're listening to them. What started out as a fun, honest record turns into something that takes itself too seriously. Even Springsteen wasn't perfect the first time out. (DGC)