Before I start this review I have to admit two things: one, that in my previous band I opened for Whiskey Myers at the Stage on 6th Street in Austin, so I’m already partial to be as gracious to these guys as they were to me (they hung out with us before and after the show and are just a great bunch of guys) and two, Whiskey’s Myers’ first album “Firewater” has held a spot on my ‘top 20 albums I listen to over-and-over’ for quite a while.
That being said, I’m gonna try to put all that aside and try to be as neutral and critical as possible.
When I first heard that Whiskey Myers was gonna call their new album “Early Morning Shakes” I thought to myself, the album title has GOT to be about one of three things: waking up with alcohol withdrawals, a three o’clock stop off for a dairy desert at Steak & Shake, or how you half wake up in the middle of the night having to pee and stand there wa-a-a-y too long trying to shake those last drops out (oh wait, is that just me?).
The first song on the album is the title track, and after listening to it I gotta say, there IS a lot of references to alcohol, but I’m still not entirely convinced my inconsistent-urine-flow theory is incorrect (okay, I’ll get my prostate checked GET OFF MY BACK!).
Now that you know more than I’d like about my toilet training, let’s get into the meat-and-potatoes of the album.
The album starts out with what sounds like a hound dog and a little kid cussing so this should be a good indicator of how bad-a$$ this collection of jams is gonna be! The first two tracks, Early Morning Shakes, and Hard Row to Hoe, are straight up, in-your-face southern rockers complete with some harmonica and a wah-wah pedal lead (two instruments which are sorely UNDER used in music today my opinion) and a female background singer.
The third tune (Dogwood) is a steady driver that I’m sure is gonna see plenty of play pumping out of trucks driving back roads with the windows down or blasting out of one of those water-proof radios lashed to a tube cooler on the Guadalupe River. Dogwood is followed by Shelter from the Rain, a steel guitar infused ballad which the ladies might like. Just when the ballad has you soothed, lounging on your couch with your feet kicked up, along comes the 5th track, Home, that kicks in the front door with a shotgun blast guitar riff and does a nasty home invasion (like how I worked in ‘home invasion’ for a song title ‘Home’? yeah, pretty clever).
If you’ve ever seen Whiskey Myers live, I’m sure you’d agree with me that from the first note to the last encore, they rock out and put on a hellofa show. Tracks 6 and 7, Headstone and Where the Sun Don’t Shine, are about as close to capturing that live show groove as you can get in a studio environment.
Track 8, Reckoning, slows the roll. Revisiting a theme familiar in their first album, this song recognizes the dues you gotta pay for fast living. You could probably find some chick willing to do a romantic slow dance with you for this song, but when the next tune rolls around you might want to take a seat and pull out the single bills. Track 9, Wild Baby Shake Me should be a staple on every strip club DJ’s song list.
There are numerous tracks on this album that instantly make me draw comparisons with the band Blackberry Smoke, and tracks 10 and 11, Lightning and Need a Little Time off for Bad Behavior, are more of those. Dirty guitar riff driven ear-grinders are a staple of both bands, and I hope they stick to that winning formula. There’s not enough down-home southern rockers out there. We got too many panty-waist-industry-correct-afraidtosaywordslikeheroinorstripperinasong-metrosexuals in the music scene these days. These Nashville clowns rapping about partying on the weekends, while guys like these keep on rocking about the bullsh*t you go through during the week. So thank God for guys like Whiskey Myers.
The last track, Colloquy (yeah, I had no idea what the word meant either, and after looking it up I STILL don’t know what it means, but it ISN’T pronounced the way it’s spelled) is a giant step off in a different direction for this album. The lyrics are pained, mysterious, and I bet are underpinned with some tragic story. What’s really striking about this song is the presence of an 80’s hair-metal style synthesizer and this is further accented by a Scorpions-esque dual lead guitar. It’s REALLY different from anything else on the album, but not different in a bad way at all. I liked it, and I think you will to.
Overall, this album is pretty solid. Plenty here to satisfy those hungry for some real-life home-grown rock-out-with-your-c@ck-out music.