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McKay Brothers

Cold Beer & Hot Tamales – 2006 (Medina River)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by McKay Brothers

The McKay Brothers play a brand of Texas honky-tonk with a potent undercurrent of rock 'n' twang and a mix of styles that's built upon a foundation of great songwriting. Assisted by the production and steel/Dobro work of Lloyd Maines, the brothers prove themselves masters of the hard shuffling groove and the snarling guitar with takes such as "Lock and Key," "Bottle of Fire" - which takes its inspiration from George Jones' fabled lawn tractor exploits - and "Silicone Baby," a song that skillfully mixes the personal and philosophical in considering the implications and consequences of artificial enhancement.

To that basic template, they add a bit of Cajun vibe ("Port Artúr), stone country ballads (the forlorn "A Warmer Place to Sleep") and slow moaners (the tongue-in-cheek "Bandera Style"), some serious Tex-Mex ("Texas Heart, Mexican Soul"), acoustic country ("7th Day" and "Spirit Bird," a gorgeous depiction of desert encounters with the divine) and loping country rock ("The Disappearing Texas"). If you're a fan of bands such as 10 City Run, The Hollisters and the great Leroi Brothers, you'll love the McKay Brothers. (POB 2808, Banera, TX 78003)