Amplified Heat

Amplified Heat

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Long known as a haven for antiestablishment musical talent, with an emphasis on left-wing singer/songwriters, Austin, TX, has also been the home for a profusion of revivalist hard rock bands in the 2000s -- including Young Heart Attack, Tia Carrera, Lions, the more decidedly metallic the Sword, and this review's subject, Amplified Heat. Following the release of their critically acclaimed LP In for Sin in 2004, Amplified Heat's long lost eponymous EP from 2003 was suddenly in high demand, prompting this 2006 reissue by their label, Arclight, with two tracks added as bonuses. In it, the three Ortiz siblings showcase their raw and rootsy hard rock, inspired by the likes of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cactus, and of course ZZ Top, via rambunctious roughneck numbers like "Heart Attack," "Bi-Polar," and the hard-driving "Contrabandista." "She Drank That Wine" and the slow-shuffling "I Don't Care" offer the set's purest blues efforts, pointing back to local hero Stevie Ray Vaughan as an early band inspiration, while the previously unreleased "Morning's Warning" opens on a sweaty riff reconstruction of ZZ Top's "Francine" before shuttling forward 20 years and losing vocal control like Mudhoney vocalist Mark Arm. And even though there's no full-time organist in the group, both this track and the dread-filled closing epic, "Dead Man Walkin'," benefit from this instrument's added colors, and come off showing some interesting Deep Purple vibes in the process. All told, these tracks rarely blow the roof off retro-rock's barn, nor revolutionize the course of civilization as we know it, but they do serve notice that telepathic musical interaction is as crucial to Amplified Heat's appeal as their songwriting itself. As they say, the family that plays together...plays together real well.

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