The Upshot: Tuneful Tarheel blooze you can’t lose, with a heapin’ helping side order of funky, hard-rockin’ boogie. Boy howdy!
BY FRED MILLS
Although North Carolina has long been celebrated for its many contributions to the power pop and Americana genres (think dB’s and Let’s Active for the former, and of course Whiskeytown for the latter), there’s also been a pretty solid crop of soulful, blues-tilting rock bands. Winston-Salem’s Luxuriant Sedans now steps forth proudly, unleashing a baker’s dozen tunes of powerhouse roots rock ‘n’ roll. Plenty of musical reference points surface over the course of the album—among them, ZZ Top, Slim Harpo, Muddy Waters, the Stones, the Yardbirds and even James Brown and John Lennon (hold that thought…)—to suggest the presence of some intuitive traditionalists in the lineup.
Ultimately, though, the Sedans’ sound is fresh and uniquely compelling, evidencing the work of musical veterans who clearly know how to take care of business and proceed to do so in no-nonsense, hi-nrg fashion. Comprising vocalist/harpist Mike “Wezo” Wesolowski, guitarists Rob Slater and Gino Grandinetti, bassist Ed Bumgardner and drummer Bob Tarleton, these guys hit the stage running and don’t let up until the last sweat drop falls.
Highlights? Submitted for your consideration is opening number “Stay Out of Automobiles,” a throbbing, bluesy/hard rock slice of nastiness that finds Wesolowski shredding his tonsils from the get-go. Let’s hope he had some honey and tea waiting for him when he emerged from the vocal booth after cutting that track. Meanwhile, “I Went Down” is a Chicago blooze so down-and-dirty that you can practically smell the piss-stained Southside streets. And the harp-and-guitars duel that is “Willie” (written by Walter Trout, currently enjoying a career upswing), shifts into gritty John Lee Hooker boogie mode, with the Bumgardner-Tarleton rhythm section locking gears to propel all five men towards a blazing climax.
Point of fact, the bulk of the tunes here are covers—that aforementioned John Lennon reference: an edgy, bass-whomp version of “Cold Turkey”—that include compositions from John Nemeth, Robben Ford, Cyril Lance and others. One original and one near-original turn up at the end of the record, however. “I Can’t Sleep,” penned by Wesolowski, is a sweet slice of Slim Harpo/Creedence swamp choogle boasting some equally sweet guit-tremolo ‘n’ twang. Meanwhile, “Rooster Blood” is an extemporaneous growling, grinding, start/stop blues stomp; written by the late Sam Moss, who was an inspiration for and mentor to countless Winston-Salem musicians, it also features guests Peter Holsapple and Mitch Easter. As the album is produced by another Tarheel veteran of many W-S recording projects, “Mixer Mark” Williams, in the end we’ve got a keeper of a record that’s nothing less than a stellar sonic hometown homecoming.
DOWNLOAD: “I Can’t Sleep,” “My Baby’s Gone,” “Willie”