When a Boy Scout Gets the Blues

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When you look at the cover of this debut album by Lincoln, Nebraska's Shithook, you don't know if you're in for a Midwest grunge-angst fest (by virtue of their name) or an album full of silly Weird Al-type numbers, by virtue of the title and the cover photo. But a quick spin quickly dispels all preconceived notions in either category. Instead of sloppy, shoegazing playing, the album shows a band who know how to orchestrate a two guitars-bass-drums combo into something very musical, loaded with great guitar parts complemented by a driving bass and drums combination that's hard to beat. Songwriting-wise, the group has a quirky sense of humor, but even the most ridiculous of subject matters in the tunes aboard are offset by such great playing and clever arrangements, it's hard to label any of it as lightweight fluff. Comparisons to a more guitar-driven version of NRBQ's all-styles-played-here approach would not be far off the mark, but tunes like "What's The Name of That Dog?," "Tired," "Bitch, Bitch, Bitch," "It's Not the Liquor Talkin' Now," "My Kinda Ugly," "Knuckledown," and the title track (a scathing, on-target indictment of white blues players) occupy a nifty musical space all their own. The simple but powerful production (this was recorded in the group's basement studio) is every bit as fine as the music it showcases. A promising debut that makes you hope there's more to come.

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