I've been aware of Devils Elbow for quite some time. In fact, they first sent me an email about three or four years ago and I listened to their songs on their myspace player and the country tinged tunes did zero for me so it was easier to ignore them than write about them. When I saw them live, I just considered them an annoyance simply by being the second support band before Grant Hart.
The line-up has since changed since I saw them live with the addition of Ben Lee on bass and bacing vocas. There's been a change of drummer too. Although none of that really matters because Alex Withers is the only constant Devils Elbow musician on this release of eight songs from 2011 and 2012. Both release opener "Broken Record Syndrome" and "Trouble" contain harmonica and possess a catchy melody reminicent of the mid-80's hits by the likes of The Hooters and John Mellencamp. Alec Withers sings and plays all the instruments in "The Big Smoke" which is country tinged with a beefy guitar sound. "Endless Dedication" is punk rock tinged country. This is how Social Distortion would sound if they plyed their hands at country music. Checked shirt wearing Country music traditionalists are likely to enjoy "Like A Flash" and find something more than those that just want to rock out because the harmonica and female backing vocals convince that song was written to be played at a hay covered barndance. The instrumental "Bones Below" is heavily reliant on the swing of the rhythm section and has a nice and sleazy feel ala The Stranglers.
The refined blend of country, punk and rock works well on this release. This is one that is likely to convert non-believers and skeptics. See y'all at Mass. The 8 song EP can ber downloaded at their bandcamp site for a limited time.
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