Michael and Kevin Bacon have been quietly building the kind of quality catalog that evades most celebrity-driven (initially, at least) musical acts. The brothers' sometimes moody, always engaging, and often surprising blend of roots rock, alternative country, and blue-collar heartbreak has grown leaps and bounds since their 1997 debut, often eclipsing more mainstream artists who don't carry the stigma of a career in Hollywood. White Knuckles, their fifth record and first for the SpinArt label, falls somewhere between the atmospheric folk-pop of the Pernice Brothers and the Eagles. For the most part, the Bacon Brothers execute musical and lyrical clichés so well that it's almost groundbreaking. 1970s arena rock jams like "Good News" and "Swing Low" are accessible to a fault, but likeable enough to cause a tremor in the listener's foot that will lead them from the barstool to the dancefloor. They catch some glow from some of the more thoughtful numbers like "Flowers," a heartbreaking ballad of missed opportunity with some magnificent and surprising key changes -- both that song and "Tuesday" are rife with the bombastic balladry of Pacific Ocean Blue-era Dennis Wilson. "What Am I Gonna Do" stealthily navigates the not-so-murky waters between Motown and modern rock, while the djembe-led "Coffins and Cradles" echoes Harry Chapin and James Taylor -- even a mandolin-heavy rendering of the George Harrison-penned Beatles classic "If I Needed Someone," complete with Fragile-era Yes harmonies -- is infectious. The Bacon Brothers may have had an easier window into their rock star dreams than most, but they're not content to just stand there and look cool with guitars; they came to play.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger