You can usually tell a lot about a band by their opening track on a record. Well, the three piece Detroit based rock outfit Jeremy Porter and the Tucos begin their sophomore album “Above the Sweet Tea Line” with a song about a cat named Josh. No, I didn’t make that up. This is a rather bold move and, although I must admit that they may have lost me a bit with this one, it’s catchy as hell and “Above The Sweet Tea Line” has no way to go but up from that point onward.
When you listen on to “Bottled Regrets”, which has such a different dynamic that it doesn’t even feel like it’s on the same album as the previous song. Instead of the odd humor heard on the title track, country undertones coat the entire song, but a melancholic blues component is introduced with this composition and appropriately moody vocals take over. This is a song to lose yourself to. I find that I’m a bit partial to the intricate melodies crafted. Check out the fourth song, “Knocked Out Cold”. It begins with soft vocals and simply strung acoustics, but it isn’t long before long the song’s upbeat strumming turns electric as scintillating lead guitar soon announces itself.
Another absolute highlight is the fifth song “Don’t Call Me Darlin'”. I’m a sucker for most ballads and this is a well-executed, practically textbook example of writing and performing an effective number in this vein. The aforementioned western touch is noticeable even on this song and the instrumentation helps create the perfect somber atmosphere. We’ve all experienced harsh truths like rejection and this near-universal resonance is key to the song’s appeal. Majestic vocals harmonies create a particularly emotional passage when female vocals take over for a few moments. “Don’t Call Me Darlin” turns into a touching duet and closes out the song as such.
“Trouble in Paradise” is another instantly memorable track, but there’s something on this album for any fan of stripped down rock and classic American musical genres. The eleven tracks have such energy that it really only makes them easier to sing along to and not care who hears you. The vocal harmonies are quite impressive when mixed with the material’s restless rhythms. “Above The Sweet Tea Line” showcases a winning combination of songs – jams with guitar solos, rollicking punk-inspired tracks, and slow introspective compositions.
Many would argue that the true test of a band is its ability to perform live. Porter and the Tucos have pulled off the not so simple trick of representing their stage show with production clarity and a musical attack that grabs listeners by their lapel. Perhaps any band can create catchy harmony driven music, right? Just a simple Facebook search will show you the slew of live shows Jeremy Porter and the Tucos have lined up. Meanwhile, fork over some cash and snatch up a copy of their album Above the Sweet Tea Line.
9 out of 10 stars.