Capsule reviews

Lucero – “Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers” (EastWest Records)
Lucero‘s new album completely tops Nobody’s Darlings. It’s more varied, with less of a straight-out rocking vibe. The whole thing combines the better qualities of early Uncle Tupelo with the harder edges of Son Volt. It’s got farfisa, accordion… seriously, these are songs so goddamn sad you’ll be screaming for some fucking whiskey after three tunes. “On the Way Back Home” is one of those songs, and it’s weeper of a tale about two friends meeting up after going different paths with their lives. Just fantastic, awesome,
Watch video from the new record on their YouTube site.

Various Artists – “Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal” (The Numero Group)
“Gospel funk.” Simple as that. It could be seen to be “novelty,” but the conviction present in these songs (to say nothing of the fact that they are legitimately funky) renders that descriptor false. No-talent hacks these guys are not. There are some weak recordings and tape hiss present, but they’re more than made up for by strength of voice and faith. And really, aside from some explicit references to Jesus, these songs take on societal topics in no different a form than “Freddie’s Dead” or “What’s Goin’ On.”

Dead Moon – “Echoes of the Past” (Sub Pop)
Dead Moon is punk. Not, y’know, “oi! oi!” punk. Punk in the same way that the Gun Club, X, or Television are punk. Think loose, dissonant, against the grain with some serious rock ‘n’ roll from a husband and wife duo (with a drummer). It’s rough, quality-wise, but that suits the loose nature of the songs. Granted, there are tracks that tend to grate on you… making it through both discs in one sitting is fucking painful, but taken song by song, “Dead Moon” is amazing.
Download “Dead Moon Night.”

Darkbuster – “A Weakness For Spirits” (IScream Records)
Ducky Boys? Street Dogs? Fuck that… this Boston band sounds nothing like those Boston bands. Well, Darkbuster sounds like those bands, but have none of the songwriting abilities. You hear the songs, and until the vocals start, all is well, if nothing special. Then, when the lyrics start, I begin to cringe. Just avoid buying this. Please. You’ll be happier. Not even Dicky Barret and Ken Casey vocal contributions can save this.
Download “Shoulda Known Better.”