The British Isles have provided plenty of great blues bands (and a few bad ones as well), the latest export being the Radiotones, self-labeled as "insurgent alt.blues." As a drummerless three-piece group, the Radiotones can't simply rock out and get themselves across through sheer force on Whiskey'd Up, their second full-length album. Instead, they rely on practiced musicianship, exceptional interplay among harmonica (Jim Harcus), National guitar (Dave Arcari), and electric bass (Andrian Paterson), and a good set of original tunes peppered with the requisite standards. The only significant problem with Whiskey'd Up is Arcari's vocal delivery. Instead of sounding bluesy, his voice comes off as being forced, with an odd gruffness that overshadows what he's singing. It's a shame, really, because his guitar playing on tunes like Muddy Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied" and Robert Johnson's "Preachin' Blues" just plain blazes. At the heart of Arcari's painfully bad singing is a rough working class voice that would probably better serve the Radiotones in its natural state. Think of the Clash doing acoustic blues music. That's just what the Radiotones could sound like if they really tried.
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