Honky Tonk Chateau

Walk in the Sun

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If you come to this album expecting actual honky tonk music, you'll be disappointed. (Or relieved, depending on how you feel about actual honky tonk music.) Honky Tonk Chateau is a rock band unashamed of its country roots but apparently unsentimental about them as well. Every song on its full-length debut chugs with a sort of inexorable intensity, and suffers only from a dearth of really good hooks. In a few cases the hooks are actually there, but require repeated listenings to discover: "Dreaming About a Place" grabs you harder the third time through than the first, and "Distraction" does the same. "Fate" is nicely reminiscent of middle-period R.E.M. But too many of the other songs on Walk in the Sun manage to sound simultaneously intense and meandering, as if the band were stomping around in a corn field without any particular place to go. Note, in particular, the powerful buildup and disappointing release in the chord progression to "Hit You Too Hard," a song that screams for a soaring melodic resolution and is instead saddled with a sort of sideways blues structure. But this is clearly a band with lots of promise, and has time to work out the kinks. If they keep giving singer Sheri Hurst her head and figure out how to match their general gutsy power to equally strong tunes, they'll make some truly memorable albums in the not too distant future.

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