Mississippi Cactus

Frank & Irene's

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Mississippi Cactus is a Milwaukee roots-based rock band whose studio debut, Frank & Irene's, pays homage to many giants of '60s and '70s rock & roll. "Studio Tech #40" is a blues rocker sounding like early-'70s Rolling Stones and is followed immediately by "Dennis Git Some," which is similar to Aerosmith and the Black Crowes. Lead guitarist Mike Friedl gets to shine on the sizzling pseudo-rockabilly instrumental "Running From the Law." It's when he releases his inhibitions that this band creates a lasting identity and their considerable promise is revealed. The guitar attack of "Paradise Isle" combines the raw energy of Cream with post-grunge '90s rock. A minor setback is experienced with "Barloventro," in which a Santana-lite or Jesse Cook groove is attempted. It's a pleasant song, but it fails to develop and is a complete aberration to the songs that preceded it. A revisit to the previous instrumental, this time called "Still Runin'," does little to get Frank & Irene's back on track; however, "Burnout Blues" is a funky brass-laden rocker that more than atones for the momentary lapse. Unfortunately (perhaps due to lack of material or the desire to showcase diversity), the following track, "Cherry Coke," is completely disposable. It's a plodding five-minute neo-doo wop song that has even less to do with the continuity of this album than "Barloventro." "Squeenaneena" is a quirky and slithery piece that departs even further from the blues and Southern rock that defined the first half of this album. "Majestic Pines" is an Allman Brothers Band rocker that seems to be more in this band's comfort zone. Mississippi Cactus is definitely a talented band whose knowledge and appreciation for roots rock is apparent, but it seems that they tried to be too all-inclusive on Frank & Irene's, particularly on its latter half. A little more focus and self-policing would do wonders for this band.

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