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6 String Drag

Top of the World – 2018 (Schookids)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by 6 String Drag

6 String Drag's 1997 Steve Earle-produced album "High Hat" marked them as one of the so-called seminal Americana bands, well before the term was widely used. Then it was called alt.-country. The band formed in 1993 just as Uncle Tupelo was breaking up and before Whiskeytown and so many others. Yet, front man Kenny Roby never thought of the band's music in that way. They were bent on being a classic rock n' roll band. Now, 25 years later, founding members Roby (vocals/guitars) and bassist Rob Keller are joined by multi-instrumentalist Luis Rodriguez and drummer Dan Davis.

Producer Jason Merritt, who was at the controls for 2015's "Roots Rock 'N Roll," returns for this partly live and partly layered effort, depending on the needs of the track. The album is filled with infectious hooks derived mostly from British Invasion pop and punk. On several tracks, Roby's vocals are reminiscent of the angry Elvis Costello and the Imposters.

True to their character, this album just bristles with energy and enthusiasm, coming across as a raucously and uplifting despite some of the dark lyrical passages. Roby used a soft-spoken vocal approach in his solo album, but is positively effusive here. The pumping opener "Never Turn My Back on You Again" sets the stage for a sequence of very strong material with the punk- infused "Small Town Punks," the mid-tempo title track, the organ driven rave-up "Every Time She Walks On By" and the carefree "Let's Fool Around Til The End of the World." Other highlights include the jangling guitars in "Be Like You" and the horn infused closer "Robert & Lucy."

Roby indicates that the band was listening to Rockpile, Thin Lizzy and Mott the Hoople when making the record. So, that vibe inevitably seeped in. He points to the veteran/new blood combination as keeping it all fresh, spontaneous, and conducive to great chemistry. That is palpable throughout in a disc consistently lively from beginning to end.