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Hands Up!
     

Hands Up!

3.3 3
by Two Dollar Pistols
 
The ever-changing lineup of this Chapel Hill, NC, band keeps shifting for their fourth album, with only guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Scott McCall on board from the previous release. Regardless, John Howie Jr. unspools another set of traditional honky tonk that sounds like it could have been recorded in 1954, not 2004. Keeping this dusty music pure and close to its

Overview

The ever-changing lineup of this Chapel Hill, NC, band keeps shifting for their fourth album, with only guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Scott McCall on board from the previous release. Regardless, John Howie Jr. unspools another set of traditional honky tonk that sounds like it could have been recorded in 1954, not 2004. Keeping this dusty music pure and close to its roots is the intent, of course. The songs are all originals, written or co-written by Howie, and at their best sound like lost covers written in the heyday of country & western. In particular, the comparatively jaunty "There Goes My Baby" sounds like a great old Everly Brothers tune with its easy rolling melody, low-boil twang, and instantly memorable chorus. But this album works because Howie effectively mixes upbeat tracks with the ballads he sings so convincingly in his trademarked booming baritone croon. "Lonely All Alone" even increases the tempo to almost a rockabilly speed. Howie must have a disappointing love life, since his compositions all come from the cheating side of town ("It's All Fun and Games [Til Someone Breaks a Heart]" and "Too Bad That You're Gone" are two potent examples), but they comfortably reside in the genre he resurrects so successfully. The disc's multiple eye-catching photos of a Grade B black-and-white '50s Western with a buxom blonde bombshell harnessing a pistol is an apt metaphor for the lovely yet edgy sad tunes the band gravitates to. This album, with its charming and retro low-key twang, could be the soundtrack to that flick.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/18/2004
Label:
Yep Roc Records
UPC:
0634457207028
catalogNumber:
2070
Rank:
121233

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Hands Up! 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I COULD CARE LESS ABOUT LYRICS WITH STUFF LIKE THIS---SORRY.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though John Howie Jr.'s heartbroken lyrical sentiment is often traced back to George Jones, his band's backbeats rock, as well as shuffle, and their guitars chime in addition to twang - reminiscent of '60s country-rock crossovers like The Byrds and Gram Parsons, and Americana troubadours like Dave Alvin. Howie's baritone is often reminiscent of Alvin's, but he sings with more anguished abandon, matching the mood of his lost-love songs. ¶ The third revision of the band (the rhythm section has once again been replaced between records) works smoothly with producer Brian Paulson (Wilco and Son Volt, among others), to craft rich arrangements that remain anchored in the guitar-bass-drums-steel axis. Originals like "There Goes My Baby" reach towards the operatic grandeur of Roy Orbison or Raul Malo, but with a livelier sound that isn't dependent on a studio for reproduction. ¶ Howie and the Pistols crank up two-step honky-tonkers with tremendous ease, soaking up the heartache of Buck or Merle, with a lovingly borrowed guitar riff here or there. The ballads are equally fetching, filling out winning titles ("It's All Fun and Games (Til Someone Breaks a Heart)" with beer-diluting tears. Unlike fellow neo-Bakersfieldians, such as The Derailers, the Pistols keep their rock 'n' roll influences on the periphery, and the country twang front-and-center. And whether they're whipping dancers around the floor, or wallowing at the bar, they've got a heart full of heartache to pour.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago