I once saw a film where a concerned father, in the few moments before his teenage daughter was being picked up for the senior prom, declared; “never trust a boy in denim!” one can only assume that denim is connected to the power of rock n roll and will directly lead to the downward spiral to damnation and ruin. So, it’s with a certain level of concern that I listen to five fellas from America who proudly display their love of denim (and hats) and make a mix of heady cocktail of American country rock that will make any stuffy dad worry.
“Not another country rock album!” you may cry as you pour through a seemingly never-ending choice of the stuff, but don’t worry yourself with that just yet, for Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts are a band at the top of their game and this is an album that sits nicely between being familiar enough to keep the old guard happy and just explorative enough to keep fans of the genre interested. This isn’t your average country rock album, because, quite simply, the musicians aren’t your average musicians.
We open with a punchy riff set against an – admittedly over-used – chorus, but it’s a fine introduction, a way to ease you in nicely to what is to follow. At times the music feels a little light, by that I mean it feels toned back for the recording, but these songs will fly live under the stage lights with a bouncing audience.
Here and there are twists turns, be it Hammond organ (or maybe Fender Rhodes…) of ‘Howl At The Moon’, the stalking bass and drums of ‘Old Enough’ or the impressive laid-back feel of ‘Ghosts’ that would suit any late night mood of reflection.
The album kicks up into another gear on ‘Overpass’, an 80’s Bryan Adams anthem that, on the surface seems simple but there are some clever chord choices and drum patterns to prove this wasn’t cobbled together over a couple of bottles of beer one night in the back of a tour bus.
The album has a feel of ‘Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ throughout, this is to be expected, The Heartbreakers practically wrote the book on accessible rock about tales of American youth making their first steps into adulthood. It’s punchy, catchy, cleverly produced and is a class above most of what is being written today.
As always, have a listen for yourself.