Cree Rider Family Band – One Night Stand (Independent)
I’ve always wondered why so much alt. country sounds like, well, proper country music. Surely artists like Robbie Fulks and Patterson Hood are the natural successors to Hank, Johnny, Willie, Merle, Waylon, etc., rather that the airbrushed pap that Nashville chucks up and out. The Cree Rider Family Band describe themselves as alt. country, and they are insofar that they’re alternative to the stuff that sells millions, but a quick spin or six of “One Night Stand” reveals a band with more heart, soul and honky tonk chops than all those guys with big hats put together.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, and led by Mr. Cree Rider, himself, the band rattle through 13 tracks on their debut long-player, touching on a number of classic country themes – loving, leaving, drinking, etc. – with plenty of clever wordplay and tunes that stick around long after the music’s faded. Though there’s nothing here that could be described as over-produced, the full band recording (guitars, bass, drums plus pedal steel and keys) lends the album a fulsomeness that’s incredibly appealing, and the two vocalists, Rider and Cheryl Wilson add to the mix.
Standout songs come think and fast: “Conquer This Sweetheart” struts its stuff with Cash-esque boom-chick-a rhythm and some country-fried lead guitar courtesy of Jordan Heimberger. “Straight from the Bottle” is vibrant country rock, with so many hooks I’m going to need surgery to have them removed, and “Break Free of These Bars” is a tears-in-my-beer, honky tonk weepie, best played behind chicken wire. Add to those three another half dozen new instant classics, and absolutely nothing that you’d describe as filler, and you’ve an album every fan of “real” country music needs in their lives.