Feels Like Carolina – 2013 (Stoney Creek)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

CDs by Parmalee

The new outlaw country band member is decidedly not your father's Oldsmobile. Gone are the cowboy hats. The new outfits will have heavy metal or hip-hop accents, to match the tattoos, of course. And if they seem to rock as hard as most rock bands, that's all part of the design.

Joining this new tradition is Parmalee, named after the tiny North Carolina burg where two brothers and their immediate circle learned to play in a tin shed. They've been kicking the tires of the music industry for 10 years. Nonetheless, this record comes across as a debut. Chock full of party-ready songs, they wisely brought in an ace producer (NV, who worked with Thompson Square) and played like they've been waiting their whole life for this one chance.

The hit single Carolina doesn't quite do the band justice. It's pedestrian songwriting with repetitive lyrics that might have come from a hundred writers. The refrain is also a little too reminiscent of "Heads Carolina, Tails California" from Jo Dee Messina. But other tracks like Day Drinkin with its bright calypso whimsy, and I'll Bring the Music score with ease. Lead singer Matt Thomas' voice fits tightly with his guitar licks and blood brothers. And the unit is not afraid to reach, as when My Montgomery refits Bowie's Heroes with country flair. The closer, Another Day Gone shows another side with heart, concerning how a foolish moment can unravel a life. Welcome these party boys, and take them up on their invitation for a good time.