Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Too Slim And The Taildraggers - High Desert Heat

Too Slim And The Taildraggers may be based in Nashville, but they sure as hell don’t sound like no country music.  High Desert Heat is gritty blues rock with an occasional southern twist - no frills stuff that deserves to be played loud while cruising along in a pick up truck, down an arrow-straight highway that’s shimmering in the high noon sun.
Tim 'Too Slim' Langford - psychedelic, maan!
Opening track 'Time Has Come Today' sets out their stall with a meaty riff and jangly turnaround from Tim ‘Too Slim’ Langford, to go with his gravelly vocal.  Here and there the vibe drifts towards Texas, as on ‘One Step At A Time’ and ‘Run Away’, with their ZZ Top-like riffs and Langford’s voice channelling Billy Gibbons.  The former has a moody, downbeat opening, though it would benefit from more drive, while the latter builds some satisfying tension between the guitar and Jeff ‘Shakey’ Fowlkes’ drums, ahead of a heavyweight crescendo in the middle and a closing wah-wah solo from Langford.  Both songs feel overlong, but not as a result of indulgent noodling, so the lack of pruning is forgivable.
Elsewhere the material ranges from traditional R’n’B on the loping ‘Trouble’, with its rock steady rhythm and chugging harp from guest Sheldon Ziro, to the more modern ‘Lay Down The Gun’, where the melody tugs at the rhythm and the semi-rapped vocal recalls the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Sonically they’re in the sweet spot throughout, typified by the chunky rhythm guitar sound on the beefy ‘Broken White Line’.  ‘A Little More Time’ has Skynyrd-ish undertones, and the closing title track is an atmospheric instrumental with twanging guitar spaced out over rattlesnake-shaking percussion.
But they’re probably at their best on songs like the straight-up ‘What You Said’.  Locked into a crisp, pounding beat, it would surely have Angus Young at least nodding his head to the simple, ringing riff as Langford bounces licks off it.  High Desert Heat is the thirteenth studio album from Too Slim and the Taildraggers, would you believe, and the experience shows in a well-honed, blue-collar sound worthy of a roadhouse jukebox.

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