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Smokin' Armadillos

Smokin' Armadillos – 1996 (Curb)

Reviewed by Dan Kuchar

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CDs by Smokin' Armadillos

The Smokin' Armadillos' press kit goes to great lengths to emphasize the group's youth in a not-so-subtle attempt to make absolutely certain that the teen heart-throb factor isn't overlooked. The Dillos' publicists seem to want to portray them as a sort of country-fied New Kids On The Block. In doing so, they could be shortchanging them. SA's debut album finds the group cutting a wide stylistic path ranging from traditional country sounds to a kind of in-your-face brand of '70's-influenced rock. The material ranges from excellent ("Miracle Man," "Let Your Heart Lead Your Mind") to mediocre ("When Will I Ever Learn") to just plain awful ("I'm A Cowboy"). Lead singer Rick Russell has a fairly effective twang in his baritone range, but turns pop in the upper registers.

The playing is solid through and through, especially the drums and fiddle. However, one never knows how much help the Dillos get from their well-known session players. While their marketing is firmly in place, the Smokin' Armadillos have yet to establish a sonic trademark for themselves.