Gentleman Jesse / Gentleman Jesse & His Men

Leaving Atlanta

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Gentleman Jesse & His Men have a tight grasp on what makes rock & roll good. They have the three things you need most of all to make it work: energy, attitude, and songs that make you want to sing along at top volume. Their debut, Introducing Gentlemen Jesse & His Men, was a perfectly crafted modern rock & roll album that sounded like a rollicking, good-time party classic; the follow-up, Leaving Atlanta, is more of the same, but even better -- more direct and more accomplished-sounding, but also tougher and full of fire. The sound jumps off the grooves, tight and wired with the right blend of growl and jangle. The uptempo songs have a bite to them; the midtempo lovelorn tunes are thoroughly tear-soaked and soulful. (One of the ballads, "Careful What You Wish For," even approaches Flamin' Groovies territory, and that's the highest possible praise.) It's an approach Greg Cartwright pretty much perfected with the Reigning Sound and it's not a slag to say that GJ & His Men sound a heck of a lot like those guys here. Instead, it shows just how good they are at tapping into the same influences and delivering the same kind of R&R knockout punch. By the end of the album, you might even wonder who would win in a bout of musical fisticuffs. There's no question where Gentleman Jesse & His Men stand among the contemporary rock & roll revivalists; Leaving Atlanta puts them at the very head of the line. More importantly for those who don't care about rankings or influences or history, it's just a flat-out good-time rock & roll record and that's all that really matters.

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