Review: Who doesn’t like Backwoods Rock? I’d all hands go up in the air. This style of music tended to be at times earthy, melodic, loud, a bit chaotic and filled with musical ruckus or whacky folk. Recently we’ve seen this style of music Moe, Widespread Panic, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, The String Cheese Incident, and even Dave Mathews. Many feel this style of music has lost its way evolving into overly commercialized, highly corporate songs that do a better job at getting under your skin rather than getting under your heart. So having said bands that play this style of music are dying breeds. It’s true many have felt we have lost out way. Despite this rather depressing introduction most music fans can’t deny getting into a good poppy groove every now and then and really enjoy well written music within this style from time to time.
The latest release by Whiskey Fever headed up by Jack Mattingly entitled interestingly enough “Gonna’ Wake up this Whole Town” does everything the title implies. It’s a musical wake-up call, and if you don’t get it, you are dead. This 11 Track offering from this Washington State band came to my attention a few weeks back. I must admit I yawned expecting the typical music conventions – trying to be folksy and rocking at the same time. Boy did I get what I deserved. I get the impression this band writes and records in a unique style that fuses the rhythms of Blues and gold old fashioned Folk/Americana and yes even Southern Style Rock. Their bio says Hillbilly Rock. This unique style meshes rhythms and sounds with short, humorous stories – still-life if you will for an increasingly busy age. Lead vocalist Mattingly asks us to examine the world in a fresh light. I hate to pigeonhole but if you like all the aforementioned band in addition to Robbie Williams, Rusted Root, Tindersticks and a slight done of The Strokes and The White Stripes. “Gonna’ Wake up this Whole Town” is exceptional music and multi-dimensional to say the least. The music itself is uplifting, thought provoking, and interesting. It also however possesses an undeniable Americana/Blues/Folk core kind of breaking the traditional mold for Southern Rock, or in this case Pacific Northwest Rock. Does all of this sound a bit over the top to you? Just listen to marquee tracks like “Pretty Boy”, “Tall Grass” and my personal favorite “Cigarette Kisses” and you’ll begin to see my perspective. The main focus of this genre of music is generally the personality of the artist, here Mattingly wins you over without even trying. The amazing lyrical content never feels like an afterthought. What’s more the vocal work and impeccable songwriting and playing from this entire band a few other contributors really brings this CD all together. This band is hitting the pavement hard. All in all it’s a powerful combination that puts a relatively underground band like Whiskey Fever on the map for 2015. They should go a long way towards proving that real good alt-rock with a backwoods personality is still alive and well – even here in the US. By the way – I rarely give out 5 star ratings.
Bio: Whiskey Fever is: Members: Jack Mattingly (songwriter, guitar, vocals) Andy Brown (drums, percussion, vocals) Dylan Dalgarn (bass, melodica, vocals) Mike Lamb (lead guitar)
Label: Independent Artist
by Jim Courville