Gideon Smith & the Dixie Damned

Southern Gentlemen

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Southern Gentlemen Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

The demos that would become Southern Gentlemen -- the first full album from North Carolina's Gideon Smith & the Dixie Damned -- were purportedly laid down in the hallowed setting of Memphis' Sun Studios using vintage equipment breathed upon by the King himself. Whether this be truth or fable, one has to admire main man Smith for having both the foresight and the balls to conjure such a mystical/historical backdrop for an LP that defies easy categorization. In fact, it dares imagine what Elvis (or at least Glenn Danzig) would sound like singing stoner rock. This queer experiment is less surprising when buried under the chugging riffs of the likes of "Whiskey Devil," "Shovelin' Time," and opener "She Is Venus" (which adapts the melody line from Brazilian pop star Jorge Ben Jor's international novelty hit "Ponta De Lanca Africano," interestingly enough); but it comes to the fore when the Dixie Damned slow things down into psychedelic and space rock-tinged grinds like "Outerspace Girl," "The Witch's House," and "Ghost Rider." Southern rock and country also provide crucial touchstones throughout, but are particularly evident on the slide guitar of "Draggin' the River," the all acoustic "Wish You Were Mine," and the haunting "Hello Cigarette Girl," which evokes strong memories of Masters of Reality and cites monster trucks -- yeehaw! In short, Southern Gentlemen offers stoner rock with a twist, ideal for those willing to risk something new.

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