Ever since Roger Hoover and The Whiskeyhounds became The Magpies I’ve been pretty disappointed in the musical direction the band has taken. That said, I still check out anything new they release on the off chance they might recapture that Whiskeyhounds spirit I’d so loved. So, when I saw they had released a new album, Strangers, I decided to check it out.
Right off the bat I recognized the songtitles “Vagabond” and “Blueberry Wine” as old Whiskeyhound songs and as the album played I quickly came to suspect that all the songs were old Whiskeyhound songs. A little digging through a cd rack proved my theory correct. Turns out, Strangers, is essentially redo of the Roger Hoover and The Whiskeyhounds album, Panic Blues. The songs are slightly revamped and the recording quality is vastly improved but 9 of the 11 songs on Strangers originally appeared on Panic Blues. At first, this felt lazy to me (and still does to some extent) but listening to the competing versions of the songs back to back leaves no doubt that the songs have been improved and honestly, Panic Blues was my favorite of the Whiskeyhounds albums so it would stand to reason I’d like Strangers. That said, I think I’m gonna follow Hoover’s lead and just copy/paste a slightly altered version of my thoughts when I originally wrote about Panic Blues:
“Sounding uncannily like David Gray of Marshall Tucker Band greatness, Roger Hoover sings songs that sound as though they could have been written long before his time. Much like I felt when I wrote about Backyard Tire Fire, the songs these guys write would have fit right into the Capricorn Records catalog perfectly. While most of the time they posses a decidedly southern rock sound they aren’t afraid to let their primal blues side out for a track or two here and there.”