Bluff City Ruckus

Porch Ghouls

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Bluff City Ruckus Review

by Mark Deming

The Porch Ghouls proudly hail from Memphis, TN, and while their mutated blend of country blues wailing and fractured post-punk cool sure isn't the work of a gang of musical traditionalists, these guys are close enough to the spawning grounds of the blues to treat their influences with a healthy degree of respect. As a result, their first full-length album, 2003's Bluff City Ruckus, sounds like the work of four guys who are not messing with the blues for the sake of screwing up the form, but messing with it in order to find a way of making it their own. If lead vocalist Eldorado Del Rey's approach is just a shade self-conscious, his songs twist around classic blues riffs pretty effectively, and Slim Valentine's overdriven harmonica and the no-frills guitar work of Slim Electro (aka ex-Grifter Scott Taylor) carry just enough weight that this stuff works nearly as well as the real thing; it won't replace Slim Harpo or Hound Dog Taylor in your musical diet, but it makes for a good side dish. It also helps that at an efficient 31 minutes, Bluff City Ruckus has the good sense not to wear out its welcome, and the production by Greg Cartwright (aka Greg Oblivion, and a man whose spent years exploring the nexus between blues and punk) keeps these tunes centered, without diving too far into their noisy subtext to get in the way of the Deep South groove that's the Porch Ghouls' greatest virtue. Hopefully, they'll be able to write a few more songs as good as the title cut for their next album without getting too slicked up in the process, and let's have a hand for Aerosmith axeman Joe Perry, without whom this album would never have appeared on a major label.

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