Various Artists

Welcome to Gearhead Country

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Anyone wondering if Gearhead Records has hopped aboard the alt-country bandwagon after looking at the cover art to Welcome to Gearhead Country, the label's latest CD sampler, will want to know that the label is still serving up fuel-injected rock & roll exclusively, and this collection features 26 solid tunes from bands on their roster. The folks at Gearhead seem to thrive on blurring the fine line between lean and speedy punk and raw and beefy hard rock, and such label stalwarts as the Wildhearts, the Hellacopters, Electric Eel Shock, and the Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers play it hard and heavy without excess pomp, while other faves the New Bomb Turks, the Million Dollar Marxists, the Riverboat Gamblers, and Bottles and Skulls stand tall for the fast and loud stuff. But neither side sounds as if they're trying to push the other guys out of the way, and every song here drips with attitude, hard guitars, and plenty of sweat -- the bottom line is this is all rock & roll that's loud and proud, and it all sounds good blasting out of your home stereo or muscle car's CD player. There aren't a whole lot of surprises here, but given Gearhead's knack for musical quality control, that means they haven't put any lame acts on Welcome to Gearhead Country, and this budget-priced comp offers lots of quality for five bucks -- anyone interested in any of the bands on board will get high value for the money here.

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