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The Shiners

Bonnie Blue – 2002 (Planetary)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by The Shiners

When a band as under-the-radar as Dirtball changes things up and the members go in different directions, it's understandable when nobody really notices. The Shiners debut is a post-Dirtball project that should gain the recognition that eluded the prior band.

Wes and Jyl Freed are joined in The Shiners by fellow Dirtball co-founder and original GWAR guitarist Steve Douglas, with Greg Harrup on upright bass from ChromeDaddy and Robert Gordon's band, notable guest appearances are turned in from The Drive By Truckers, Kirk Rundstrom of Split Lip Rayfield and Paul Watson of Sparklehorse.

With their experience and all that extra help, it isn't surprising to say that this is pretty catchy stuff, sung and played in a sort of Gothic alt-country vibe that recalls everyone from the Beat Farmers and X to Johnny Dowd and Angry Johnny & The Killbillies. highlights include the desperately upbeat title track, the updated bluegrass of, "We Won't Break The Circle" and the contemplative ballad, "Plowman's Song."