The Rounders

Wish I Had You

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Despite its appearance on the blues-based Blind Pig label, one look at the somewhat avant-garde cover art that adorns this release should indicate this is not your typical blues combo. The Oklahoma based quintet have been at it since 2000 and have two previous albums, but this is their first available nationally. The music is Delta blues based, but bolstered by an edgy electric attack that adds sturdy rock and a slight country twang to the equation. A guest harmonica player on a few tracks highlights a heavier swamp feel that also pervades the attack. Those who remember Treat Her Right will notice similarities as the Rounders push outside the traditional blues envelope into a kind of stripped down, riff based, spooky boogie driven by repeated licks. The Fat Possum stable seems to be a touchstone, along with a connection to some of the material from the North Mississippi Allstars and even Creedence Clearwater Revival. Once the template is set though, there are few variations and by the time the fifty-plus-minute disc is in its home stretch; it seems the band has run dry of fresh ideas. Still, there is plenty here to enjoy, and once the two guitars nail a groove and the drums set up a rather rudimentary, even primitive backbeat the group is powered by its own rather unique vibe. The Rounders dip into a subtle '70s gospel influenced Southern rock on "You Know Better Than That" and bring the country twang to "Oh, My Dear Mind." But it's on the stomping, eerie "When It's Bad" and the tough twin guitar attack of "Let Me Talk at You" where the atmosphere is thick with a deep blues mojo that obliquely references the genre in a slight Gov't Mule style. The five piece is definitely onto something, even if they don't quite consistently nail it on this album. Wish I Had You shows the promise of a creative and talented band not content to color within the established guidelines of blues or rock.

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