Bantam Rooster

The Cross and the Switchblade

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First off, please note that this two-man guitar and drums Detroit garage powerhouse was going strong back when Jack White was still named John Gillis. They're a lot less strict about their sound, anyway: not only is there an occasional smattering of bass here, Outrageous Cherry's Matthew Smith, and the album's producer, Jim Diamond, both chip in on organ throughout. The resulting sound is both heavier and more frantic than on the duo's garage-punk debut, 1997's Deal Me In. Singer T. Jackson Potter's increasingly unhinged vocal style at times comes close to plain incomprehensible wailing -- the stop-start "Tom Skinner," in particular, is frantically, joyously deranged -- and his slashing, rhythmic guitar playing locks in with Eric Cook's contents-under-pressure drumming in the same way that a traditional bassist would, in between the explosive solos. The resulting sound is powerfully intense in a way that even many traditional three- and four-piece bands can't manage.

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