Dog Days

Dog Days

3.0 1
by BR5-49
     
 
BR5-49 has undergone personnel changes in recent years, but as long as frontman Chuck Mead and multi-instrumentalist Don Herron stay put, this band will always be a roots-rock juggernaut, rooted in traditional country and hillbilly rock and energized by an abundance of wit, energy, and deep feeling. With Mead's soulful vocals out front and Herron adding a stuttering

Overview

BR5-49 has undergone personnel changes in recent years, but as long as frontman Chuck Mead and multi-instrumentalist Don Herron stay put, this band will always be a roots-rock juggernaut, rooted in traditional country and hillbilly rock and energized by an abundance of wit, energy, and deep feeling. With Mead's soulful vocals out front and Herron adding a stuttering opening lick and evocative, keening fiddle solos along the way, "After the Hurricane" employs a natural disaster as a metaphor for a failed love affair, its martial rhythm seeming as inexorable as the "wind and rain" that lashed the couples' collective psyche. "Lower Broad St. Blues," a lazy country blues spiced with fiddle incursions from Herron, is sold on the strength of Mead's beautifully nuanced vocal. Elsewhere, Mead thrashes out a searing guitar intro to "Leave It Alone," and the band collectively gives a short course in fiery country rock, complete with some choice, snarling lead guitar howls. In a bit of a new wrinkle for BR, the original "Cajun Persuasion," a jubilant love song to a Louisiana gal, takes the band into the territory of its title sentiment, where Herron cuts loose with some rollicking fiddle solos in a song that must be a barnburner in concert. Southern gospel also has a place in this mix, courtesy Mead's hand-clapping, foot-stomping account of sin, temptation, and redemption, "The Devil and Me," featuring robust responsive background vocals from none other than the Jordanaires. No dog days for the BR boys -- music this spirited remains ever fresh, and doubly invigorating.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
For a while, BR5-49 were supposed to be the band who could save Nashville from the worst impulses of the music business, but Music City turned out to be a bit stronger than they were. After a pair of major label deals went south, the trad-country upstarts started to splinter, with bassist Jay McDowel and guitarist/vocalist Gary Bennett leaving the band in 2001. BR5-49 bounced back for 2004's fine indie offering Tangled in the Pines, but new members Chris Scruggs and Geoff Firebaugh had already parted ways with the group by the time they were ready to record again, and when multi-instrumentalist Don Herron was tapped to join Bob Dylan's road band, it was an open question if BR5-49 would survive to go into the studio again. The good news is that they have, and if the four-piece edition of BR5-49 that recorded Dog Days is a leaner and less rambunctious outfit than the folks who cut the Live at Robert's EP in 1996, they still have plenty to offer, and in many respects this is the group's bravest album yet. While musically "Bottom of Priority" is pure old-school country, the lyrics (about embattled Native American activist Leonard Peltier) are the last thing you might expect from this band, and all the more powerful for it. "Lower Broad Street Blues" is a bittersweet look at the scene that gave birth to the band (co-written with the great Guy Clark), the cover of Tim Carroll's "After the Hurricane" gains a whole new poignancy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (as does their ode to the pleasures of life in Louisiana, "Cajun Persuasion"), and "Let Jesus Make You Breakfast" is as engaging and odd as anything this band has ever released. The arrangements on Dog Days are tighter and simpler than before, but they're also effective, with Herron still playing up a storm on anything handed to him, and Chuck Mead still a gifted and versatile vocalist. John Keane's clean and unobtrusive production is the perfect complement to the group's new sound, and the result is an album that sounds different than BR5-49 have in the past, but still displays the same musical honesty and integrity that's always been their hallmark. BR5-49 live, and on Dog Days that's a fine thing indeed.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/10/2006
Label:
Dualtone Music Group
UPC:
0803020122628
catalogNumber:
1226
Rank:
248325

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3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a BR549 Fan (have all their albums) and if you are too, this album has a few strong songs, but some leave you feeling like Gilbert Godfrey saying "what the fowl were ya' thinkin'?". "Leave It Alone" is practically an anthem in itself, a fantastic song but long enough to make it unlikely to get radio air time - which is a shame. However, following is "Bottom of Priority", a song with a beat that leaves you looking for the elephants to enter at the circus. "The Devil and Me" is a stroke of genius, but obviously the devil played a rude trick on "Let Jesus Make You Breakfast" -- this is no "Opie and Me" -- it's not clever, it's not funny, and it's not of musical value. Also at the bottom of the stack is "You are the Queen" -- it doesn't even seem to fit the album, much less anything BR549 has done previously. So what else is good, "Poison",yep, "After the Hurricane", yep, "Lower Broadstreet Blues", great, "I'm Going Down" and "Cajun Persuasion" (great work by Herron), both good, and lastly what could easily be the BR549 motto, "A-1 on the Jukebox", a great song done really well. If you can get past "Bottom of the Priority", choke down "You are the Queen" and shut the cd player off before "Let Jesus Make You breakfast", you'll be pleased with the album. Funny that Gary Bennett reportedly left the band to get out of the perceived rut that they have now pulled themselves out of. "Tangled in the Pines" was a better effort, and Scruggs and Firebaugh seemed well suited to the band's new direction - somewhat derailed with this new effort which appears to have lost direction. Now that the band has gone through a few lineup changes, much like the Doobie Brothers from the 70's/80's/90's and today, it's time to call up Gary and Jay, put the original line up back to work, continue to crank out good, solid music, and remember that there is a strong fan base for the music of BR549.