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Whiskey Myers - Tornillo (Album Review)

Thursday, 04 August 2022 Written by Simon Ramsay

Dripping with Muscle Shoals horns and propelled by a variety of impossible-to-resist grooves, Whiskey Myers have spiced up their style-stretching gumbo even further on ‘Tornillo’, a jubilant record that leaves their southern rock peers eating dust.

The Texan group have been crafting stellar, forward thinking albums for well over a decade. Their gritty, authentic storytelling always revolves around familiar down-home themes, but Cody Cannon and his six-piece gang rarely tread the same musical terrain. Named after the border town where it was recorded, ‘Tornillo’ is no different.

Deploying a sizzling batch of novel flavours, everything from soul, country and blues to funk, R&B and Latin rock have seamlessly spruced up their signature sound.

Powered by irrepressible, pumping horns that recall The Swampers, radiant gospel backing vocals courtesy of the legendary McCrary Sisters and a bouncing bedrock of spring-heeled basslines, ‘Tornillo’ boasts a succession of killer rock ‘n’ roll-based cuts that really swing.

John Wayne is an incendiary slab of sonic dynamite, Bad Medicine swiftly evolves from back porch blues into a swirling Santana-esque fiesta and Heavy On Me, which epitomises the band’s dynamic songcraft, is a confessional mid-tempo mash up of Led Zeppelin’s Rain Song and Bad Company’s Feel Like Making Love.   

Despite some dark lyrical forays, this record’s ebullient musical aesthetic makes for an utterly contagious listen. Mission To Mars demands you boogie until you drop and Feet’s is vintage Ronnie Van Sant thanks to its incessant, Achilles-snapping beat. Other Side, meanwhile, imparts hard earned life lessons over swaggering Rory Gallagher anthemics, and For The Kids, which could become one of the all time great southern rock ballads, walks a misty-eyed line between tragedy and resilience.

There is a blue collar focus on familial love and hate, hard graft, military tales and fighting for what they believe in that allows Whiskey Myers to explore different stylistic enclaves without losing a distinct, edgy identity. Both The Wolf, with its gnarly glare, fiery late stage tempo change and instrumental bite, and the outstanding Antioch, about a young man who bides his time with an abusive father before joining the army, learning to kill and returning home to save his mother, showcase some fierce values.

‘Tornillo’ is a triumph that suggests young southern rock bands wanting to make their dreams come true, while honouring everything that came before and confidently planting their own flag in the ground, should study Whiskey Myers’ every move.


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