Knoxville Girls

Knoxville Girls

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At first blush, New York's Knoxville Girls seem like throwbacks. Their eponymous In the Red debut begins with a reverb-y instrumental called "Sixty-Five Days Ago" that might as well have been recorded 45 years ago -- soupy reverb coats the air, and three guitars pick out an ode to teenage death and leather. But by the time "Soda Pop Girl" skips coyly down the lane, it's clear that these Girls (they're all guys, incidentally) aren't limiting their powers of reinterpretation to rock & roll's golden age. No, "Soda Pop," "Two Time Girl," and "NYC Briefcase Blues" all swirl their '50s hair grease in a puddle of fuzzy garage rock goo. These guys are down with swarthy and messy after-hours revisionism; they seem like slyly aging punk rockers singing Little Willie John covers. A honking sax joins the din for the Ray Charles nugget "I Had a Dream," in which the Girls even impersonate the sashaying female backup vocals of vintage R&B (again, it must be said, the Knoxville Girls are fellas). While the only thing that's bad on this record are the attitudes, its best moment might still be "One Sided Love." Its groove is dirty, giddy, and irresistible -- like doing the Tighten Up during church. Knoxville Girls finally pulls into the station -- steaming, wheezing -- with the eight-minute-plus jam "Low Cut Apron/Sugar Fix." As you might expect, frontman Jerry Teel makes it clear that cornbread and black-eyed peas aren't the only thing cooking in his old lady's oven.

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