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Monday, March 15, 2010

Highway 414

Hellbound for the Highway

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It’s refreshing to hear new, original music that isn’t self-absorbed and fraudulent like that of so many contemporary singer/songwriters crying into their imported beer.

Hellbound for the Highway suffers as a result of weak lyrics—overused stuff—but excels in music that is tough, honest and technically proficient. One can ignore the words and not be burdened by them, or catch a phrase here and there that combines with riff and grit and floats upon honest foam, spilling out of a plastic beer cup.

Of the dozen original songs on this album, “Any Friend of Vinnie” makes a great impression for its true relationship to Chicago R&B. “Bridge Across the Miles” is an emotively played blues number as well, and puts the dance floor underfoot at 2 a.m., when it’s time to go home but there has got to be one more song. “Ain’t That Like a Woman” manages to be catchy and incredibly synchronized, with words that disappear into music that recalls the best of past moments in blues rock.

With Paul Fecke on harmonica and vocals, S. Aaron Oliver on guitar, Dan Behrens on bass and Eric Sorenson on drums, we have a perfect combo that actually listens to one another, making music for those who still like to hear updated but not outdated blues-style rocking, loud music.

“Show Me the Door,” the album opener, sets the tone with its individualist stance and nostalgic, outsider sound. Its structure moves the blues a bit off-center in a very unique way and is the right kind of radio-friendly material for an evening out on the town. Or stay at home with the “Devil Ridin’ Shotgun,” which blows a sonic hole in our neatly wrapped, harmonious world with bravado, fire and brimstone that is always there but feared.

CD release party March 20 at O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub.