Jimbo Mathus

Stop and Let the Devil Ride

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Signing to a new label didn't alter Jimbo Mathus' approach. He and his two-piece still churned out a grungy, sweaty, over-driven blues with few overdubs and no studio sweetening. There are nods to Cream's similar psychedelisized blues-rock power-trio attack, but Mathus' Junior Kimbrough version is far less commercialized and harder hitting. Patrick "Playboy" Smith adds spooky, slimy keyboards on a creepy instrumental version of Otis Rush's "Love I Miss Loving." Echoes of a less frenzied Cramps or a more blues-based Southern Culture on the Skids propel riff-based, two-chord songs like "Dope Sniffing Dog." So primitive and tribal that even a John Lee Hooker rip like "Never Seen Daddy" seems earthier than much of what Hooker produced. The hopped-up, near-gospel rush of "Let the Devil Ride" is prodded by vicious slide guitar that sounds like it is played with a butter knife on the frets, something the Fat Possum artists are known for. This is music played from the heart by way of the groin, so a little sloppiness adds to the vibe. Even female backing singers on a few tracks don't smooth out the rough edges. Rather, they inject their own cracked ambience with voodoo-styled intensity. Uncut, haunting, and raw, this is hardcore and unrelenting music made by a band that plays each nothing-left-to-lose track like it's their last.

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