The Roach Brothers

Take Flight

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    9
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Following the 1999 release of Big Load, a collection of country-fried porch stompers and road tunes, Indiana's Rouch Brothers quickly cranked out a batch of new material and hooked up with two fellow Indianans and veteran session men. Bassist Rick Maxwell and guitarist Karl Corts (whose impressive credits include working with Bo Diddley, Betty Wright, John Lee Hooker, Harry Casey of The Sunshine Band fame, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds) augment the siblings' already lush grooves, while adding deep blues, thumpin' funk, and solid backing vocals. The most apparent progression here, however, lies in the songwriting itself. Vocalist/guitarist Terry Rouch lets his pen (and voice) flow in a decidedly more romantic vein this time out, with hair-raising cuts like "Laughin' Out Loud," a shimmering, simultaneous ode to a classic car and a young lover, and the regret-dripping angst of "Crawl" ("...can't believe that I went this way/I was such a good boy/...well, you really can make me crawl..."). With Take Flight, The Rouch Brothers prove once and for all that, John Mellencamp aside, Indiana can produce heartfelt pop without the corn. Producer/drummer/singer James Rouch, the younger of the two, contributes his acerbic wit to several tracks, including the accusatory "Shit List" and the poignant "Like Me," while Corts' guitar lends wiry solos and intricate pickin' to the elder Rouch's urgent riffing throughout the album. Maxwell, who throws his hat in the lyrical ring with the hilarious and super-stanky funk number "Macho Babe," is the penultimate anchor for the quartet, with an uncanny knack for foreseeing the smallest rhythmic details and stuffing them with sharp, petulant licks. This is a real American record, full of fierce independence, honest longing, and the undying curiosity of the original pioneers -- from four guys with their feet planted firmly in the soil and their heads proudly boppin' in the clouds.

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