The latest album from the Houston based quartet takes you back to the start of the insurgent country days with the delivery of some highly energised roots rock that reminds of the similarly designed Old 97s. Throw in some Rockpile and a touch of the (Tom Petty’s) Heartbreakers and you have the basis for some attractive tracks. Cosmo Nada has 12 slices of rough and ready retouched roots rock. Their take on country is alternative and energised but built around some solid playing and equally alluring songwriting.
On Travelin’ they take the foot of the gas a little and allow the harmonies to come forward over a melodic guitar riff. But it is the full steam ahead rockers like Did She Really?, Red Hideaway and particularly Eyes, a song where writer Will Thomas’ voice conveys the story of a time and place and person not effectively. Drummer Paul Beebe also plays guitars and keyboards as well as adding his vocals alongside those of bassist Mark Riddell. The band is joined by pedal steel player Craig Freazel on some tracks. But it is the essential trio that is the backbone of these songs. They are storytelling songs that draw from that aspect of the best country music but they give them a dynamism that propels them into your heart and also to your feet. All of which should make them an ideal band to honk your tonk to even if you feel that mainstream country may be a little outside your normal listening spectrum.
Though there’s little doubting that these guys also like their Willie and Waylon. Which, as perviously stated, make them unrestrained reminders of those post cowpunk days when that landscape had a goodly number of punk enthused bands broadening their horizons to include of strands of a wide variety of roots influences. But in the end it come down to the tunes, the songs, which these guys have. And they do them justice here, which, while they may not have. in the recorded versions, the firepower of attending one of their live shows, it more than entertains in a listening setting where one’s concentration is on the music alone.
Houston, we don’t have a problem.