The title of Denney and the Jets' first full-length album, Mexican Coke, could either refer to the glass-bottled variant on domestic Coca-Cola, which contains real sugar and is prized by soda aficionados, or cocaine that was smuggled in from south of the border, and given Chris Denney's clear love of Southern-fried decadence in all its forms, either option would suit this music just fine. Denney sounds like a guy who sure likes to party, and various chemically induced escapades are described in tunes like "Water to Wine," "Pain Pills," and "Hooked," though he finds time to talk about his troubles with the opposite sex on "Darlin'" and "Alabama Man," and the music suits Denney's lyrical outlook, shuffling along like vintage Southern boogie with the sneer and bite of Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones. In the grand Southern tradition, Mexican Coke manages to sound laid-back and sharp at the same time, with an easy lope in the rhythms but a vibe that suggests these guys could and would mess you up if circumstances demanded it, and the twang in Denney's voice cuts like a switchblade that's being casually waved around in the direction of your face. Denney's band knows how to pull the right groove out of these tunes, too; Sean Cotton's lead guitar has just enough echo and open space to sound easygoing but taut at the same time, and Joey Scala on bass and Evan Scala on drums keep the rhythms on the beam throughout, from the full-bodied stomp of "Broke" to the slow drift of "Darlin'." If Mexican Coke has a flaw, it's that it drifts just a little too far into the ozone for its own good in spots, with the easygoing nature of the music outweighing the energy that keeps it cooking, but when it connects, these guys have a ready supply of good dirty boogie, and hopefully Denney and the Jets have enough left in their stash for another dose sometime soon.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming