Not too many bands would move to Baltimore, MD in search of their big break -- as the city's most famous citizen, John Waters, once put it, "No one moves here" -- and fewer still would consider making the jump to Charm City from Chattanooga, TN. But J. Roddy Walston and the Business are clearly not your average rock & roll band, and after listening to their self-titled second album (and first for Vagrant Records), this trajectory actually makes some sense. The band's music suggests a meeting of the minds between the Deep South and the East Coast -- Walston's raw, twangy vocals and rollicking piano style and Billy C. Gordon's thick guitar lines cut with sharp interjections of slide, could both come straight from a Tennessee roadhouse, but the heavy stomp of Logan Davis' bass and Steve Colmus' drums is all-beef, no-filler hard rock stomp, the stuff of guys who've spent half their life trying to perfect Led Zeppelin's glorious thud and are within spitting distance of catching it. Put these two sides together, have them spend a few hundred nights playing bars where they struggle to be heard over flying beer bottles and shouts for more bourbon, and you could get something a lot like J. Roddy Walston and the Business. These ten songs have swagger to spare, but there's little in the way of crowd-pleasing gestures; this band is here to rock but you have to take or leave them on their own terms, and the material is strong enough that plenty of listeners are likely to climb aboard for the ride. Whether they're living on the edge in "Brave Man's Death," sharing tales of unsatisfying lovers in "Pigs and Pearls," or mixing risky metaphors in "Don't Break the Needle," J. Roddy Walston and the Business are a real-deal, roots-conscious hard rock band in an era when such things are believed to have gone the way of the 8-track tape. Picture a band that captures the lean and glorious Southern arrogance of the early Black Crowes and the FTW attitude of Appetite for Destruction-era Guns N' Roses -- all without obviously lifting licks from either act -- and you get one enjoyably butt-kicking surprise of an album.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming