Some reviews are tough to write because you like the record but seriously dislike the people in the band, others are tough to write because you love the album but just can’t think of anything to say about it beyond that simple fact that you love it, and then there are reviews such as this one…
Complete disclosure, I like Truckstop Coffee as people. I sent the cd to other blogs in hopes to help them get some added press and I’ve even helped hook them up with a booking agent. If those facts are going to bother you whilst reading about this album, I suggest you just skip to the bottom, listen to the songs and to hell with my typing.
Okay, for the remaining folks, yes, I consider Pete, Caleb and Larry friends, but I also consider them a terrific band. I first heard of them back in 2006 in the infancy of ninebullets. At the time they were doing a pretty good Lucero-meets-the Drive-By Trucker’s impression in support of their debut cd, One Damn Thing To Redeem. Throughout the years they’ve made it up Tampa way a couple or four times, but rarely have they strayed from the tracklisting of that first album. There were rumors of a new album one day, but, as any struggling musician knows, recording, mixing and mastering an album requires money and there ain’t much of that coming in from playing little bars and backyard parties. Eventually there was a self-recorded acoustic album of Pete solo and I just assumed the eventual next release, For Dear Life, would just be full band arrangements of some of the songs on that.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Nope. My first exposure to some of the songs from For Dear Life came during the Citrus Circuit Tour earlier this year and the first thing that struck me was how much the rock element overshadowed the twang that their sound had been so focused on earlier. It was exciting and awesome. After the show I asked them about it and they blamed/credited their new bassist, Bob, for the change. That change in their live cd has certainly carried over into the new cd as well. Even though they’re starting to move away from the Lucero-esqe country sounds of their previous album and more towards the twang-tinged straightforward rock ‘n’ roll sound of, say, Two Cow Garage, they haven’t abandoned the sound entirely. You can witness this best in songs like “16 Ounces” and “The Ballad of Joel Carpenter”, but the album (band?) is at its best when they’re dancing inside this new expanded country-blues-rock sound of theirs with tracks like “Ghost Or An Angel” and “I-3”. And when the band fully embraces the new sound, as seen in “Costume” and “Laredo Skies”, I feel vindicated for all of the support I’ve thrown at these guys over the years.
For Dear Life is a lot of things. It’s the best album the band has made to date. It’s probably gonna be the best local release of the year. It’s easily a late-year entry onto the ninebullets essential listening list and will probably end up on my top 10 of the year list. It’s also available for whatever you feel like paying for it. So, check out the songs below and then throw a few dollars at the band and get a copy of it for yourself.