Hell's Half Acre

Under a Whiskey Moon

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On the follow-up to their 2003 debut Blacktops & Blackouts, Louisville's Hell's Half Acre have undergone a kind of musical transformation. While their first outing was a boisterous, drunkabilly, cowpunk vision of excess, Under a Whiskey Moon offers a deeper, wider approach to American music. The songs by frontman John Woosley and bassist Rankin Mapother here reflect a wider, varied palette. One can hear the Faces, and the early-'70s era Rolling Stones in their countrified roots rock. That's not to say that Hell's Half Acre have given up writing about getting drunk, getting high, or raising hell; they just do it differently. With John Mellencamp's guitarist Mike Wanchic at the production helm -- and the album being cut in Bloomington, IN, rather than Louisville, KY, the sensibilities are striking: more urgent, wonderfully melodic, less frivolous, but no less raw and rockin' an attack. There are guests in the mix as well, such as Andy York from Jason & the Scorchers, the Wallflowers, Tupac session keyboard player Moe Z.M.D., and cellist Peter Searcy. In case you are raising your eyebrows about this last cat, he's the most punk of all, having done time with everyone from Squirrel Bait to Big Wheel. Standout tracks include "Doctor Please," "Silver Dollar," "One Lonely Night," "Big Black Car," and "Lonesome River." A very solid sophomore effort.

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