Review: Drag The River

Drag The River

I’m partial to CD reviews that get straight to the point.  Would I recommend owning this album?  Absolutely.  If like me, you came up enjoying the Alt Country pathos found in music by Gram Parsons, Steve Earl, or Uncle Tupelo you’ll be drawn to Ft. Collins, Colorado’s Drag The River.   Once there it’s amazing to discover that DTR is in effect a side project of sorts for guys who’s lineage and day jobs include The Decendents, ALL, The Nobody’s and Armchair Martian. In homage to Big Black’s carnal opus, this release could have easily been titled “Songs About Drinking”.  From “Medicine” where “She’s cranky when she’s sober, so sweet when she’s wasted.”  To the third track that claims forgiveness would be traded for a beer. “Barroom Bliss” sure doesn’t disappoint with lines like “Drink all my waking hours away.” Or even “Disclaimer (Pts. 2 &1)’s” slow 3/4 time that pulls the lyrics “With pills to help the alcohol heal” from deep within a mired psyche. It’s not hard to believe these guys have ” spent my life starin’ through my bloodshot eyes.” Overall the production values are tight without delving into syrup or schlock. Jon Snodgrass (Armchair Martian) and Chad Price’s (ALL) vox and backing vox  are engaging, warm, and golden shower smooth. The pedal-steel of Zach Boddicker sweetly serpentines through the vocal duo’s six string strumming.  Bassist J.J. Nobody (The Nobody’s) nicely opts to keep the low-end thick and round, while Paul Rucker (Armchair Martian) stays solid and tasty on the drums. Witness a marathon session of ghosting beats on “Losin’ Everyone” that showcases Rucker’s aptitude for this country-fried style. A welcome surprise on the über-strong closing track “Smokefinger” is trumpeter Darryl “Doody” Abrahamson (Psychodelic Zombiez), who adds an extra lift to the tonality of the other instruments. It’s also evident that attention was paid to the soundstage during the mixing of the album, which is heaven to audiophile geeks like me. Nope, not bad at all for a side project. Actually, “side project” my ass.  There’s far too many full time bands who would kill to have an album this complete in their repertoire.