“Tornillo” – Whiskey Myers (2022) [english]

“Now they are the inspiration for others and I would not want to be in their shoes, because after an Exile On Main Street people expect confirmation and that the story continues, but we are sure that the guys from Palestine, Texas will not disappoint, indeed. Now they are the ones to dictate the rules of the game and we look forward to the next chapter.” These are the words with which I closed the review of their previous album (which you can find here: https://trexroads.altervista.org/whiskey-myers-whiskey-myers-2019/ ) the eponymous album released only 3 years ago. Here, the confirmation has arrived and far exceeds the most optimistic forecasts. The 2019 album was a sort of watershed of the career of the Texans: a 100% Whiskey Myers product. The title and the cover were there to prove it, a slap in the face to the world. The music is ours and we decide, a risk perhaps, but well calculated. The Texas band has matured, improved and now is a certain reference of American rock. He mixed the different influences, he took inspiration from the greats of the past, but he did it with a personal and never banal look. If we listen to their first 4 records we can see the evolution I’m talking about, from the guys who listened to country and rock, they wanted to do it and they didn’t know any other way to do it than to work hard and play thousands of concerts up and down the United States (so as not to miss anything even touched Europe from complete strangers 10 years ago), up to the production of the wizard of the console Dave Cobb, which was probably one of the decisive sparks. They incorporated these experiences in their sound, learning from the artists for whom they opened the concerts, country, southern rock until the 70’s rock of the Stones, but also learning the art of valuing their talent from Cobb, absolute genius of music production. Everything has served, even the musical loves of each member of the band and the experience in the TV series Yellowstone, to get to this 2022. It’s been 14 years since the first record (that Road Of Life, disappeared from commercial radar at the behest of the same Whiskey Myers) and today the band we have in front of our eyes is one of the best groups that American rock has produced in the last 30 years at least. One of their best-selling T-shirts sums up what WM is right now: “Whiskey Myers is a rock and roll band”. It’s a common exercise to try to catalogue a band or a singer, I often do it too: country, bluegrass, blues, folk, southern rock, rock and roll, soul… Well, Cody Cannon, John Jeffers, Cody Tate, Jeff Hogg, Jamey Gleaves and Tony Kent can only be categorized as American rock. Pure and simple. In these 11 pieces (12 if we also count the mariachi trumpet intro that makes a lot like spaghetti western) the Whiskey Myers greedily drink at the source of American music: you will find the beloved southern rock inspired by Lynyrd Skynyrd, you will find the Texas country, but they will have an important part of the soul coming from the swamps of Muscle Shoals, that of the horns, the choirs of the McCrary Sisters and the very funky groove, the rock that takes you the soul of the Rolling Stones and the one that makes you move of ZZ Top, but all this will be enhanced by a truly disarming lyrical skill for sincerity and narrative skill, like the great folkmen of the past. Before I talk about the music, honorable mention for the exceptional cover by the Texas artist Zachary Nelson: a true masterpiece, loosely inspired by the cover of “Tejas” by ZZ Top. A work of art that will remain in the annals, as well as the music contained in this record. The intro draws the ear to the speakers and brings us closer with the mind to the legendary recording studios where this work was created, the Sonic Ranch of Tornillo in Texas, which have played such an important role with their setting and their feeling, that have deserved the honor of inspiring even the title of a record that will be remembered for decades. The end of the intro makes the air electric and then starts a bass groove that accompanies an explosion of harmonica, organ and guitars, the record starts to rocket and will not stop anymore. John Wayne is Southern rock in the broadest sense of the term and the words sung by Cody Cannon leave their mark, they tell of the world that burns and has forgotten the love for children and for God, in a simple and direct way. The attachment to their roots exudes from every word written by these guys and in the sound inspired by the past. Great arrangements, almost brilliant: the horns that fill the room, a syncopated sound of guitars that creates a groove almost to dance, but then a solo explodes that tears the air and the wild rhythm does the rest. I must say that such a harmonic sound has not been heard for years, not to mention the horns! What a great start! The next Antioch, one of the early singles, starts with a very effective acid riff, a riff that then introduces the horns and a taste of southern soul as used in Georgia by the Allman Brothers. A piece, also this, impregnated with a groove 70s, thanks to the crazy work of the choirs, the horns and the organ, that takes your soul and does not give up easily. In the same way we will not forget the text that tells us about family violence hidden in a normal life, a story as if we feel too many in real life that will come to a conclusion however positive :“Cause mama don’t cry when daddy’s gone”. One can guess between the lines (or at least I did) the satisfaction of a son who returned from the ugliness of the war in Iraq, in which he had ended up fleeing family violence, solves this situation that has become unbearable for his mother. The sound of the guitars and the solo are joy for the ears, I think that currently the duo Jeffers-Tate has few rivals in the rock scene, incisive and never unnecessarily verbose, never results in an endless jam, but the whole is always aimed at enriching the song of pathos and intensity. And we want to talk about the rhythm section of Gleaves and Hogg? A jackhammer that presses relentlessly. Not to mention Tony Kent’s talent on keyboards. Feet’s is to make you believe that the most glorious and unlucky southern rock band of the 70s never left, a wild ride on the streets that were trod by Ronnie Van Zant and his Lynyrd Skynyrd. Gentlemen there is not another band on earth that has the power to play the past, but make it look like it just arrived on Earth. This song could enter in today’s school books to the voice “southern rock“. The riffs are killer, the voice is intense, rock and the McRary Sisters choirs a gift from Heaven, the solo is then an electric shock in the back. John Jeffers is one of the most talented guitarists today, but also a great songwriter and an excellent singer; he shows this in Whole World Gone Crazy. A piece of blues rock, dragged on dusty streets and with a text so damn current that it makes you want to scream at the world. Jeffers will delight listeners even a few songs later, with the wonderful ballad Heavy On Me. He will tell us about the weight of a young man who comes to terms with the responsibilities of a family man, with difficulty. The chorus is a rock explosion that raises the intensity, while the soul always peeks into the choirs, bringing a bit of Alabama to Texas. For The Kids will be the most discussed for its burning themes, a couple who no longer love each other, but stay together for the sake of children. The song is a majestic rock ballad, with arrangements to lick his chops, the performance to the voice of Cody Cannon is exceptional and the piece could become another “Stone”, the feelings and emotions that triggers are the same. Masterpiece, also of production. Someone should take lessons from these guys who self-produce as if it were the most normal thing in the world and are better than so many renowned producers. (incidentally they are also fantastic discoverers of talents, follow them in the Festivals they organize, Firewater and Wiggy Thump, and you will discover new bands to love, author’s note). In Texas they know well the dirty guitar riffs inserted in pieces by the groove that does not release the bones until shaking them, there was a little ol’ band that was a teacher in these things and now found heirs to pass the baton to, The Wolf is electrifying as a piece of the ZZ Top of the golden years, but then it is inserted in an exciting song that winds between soul and rock and roll of the South where the lyrics do not take prisoners. These guys come from nothing, they are children of the working class, had they not made musicians would have become blue collars, indeed they are still and are proud to be, like their fans. For them rock and roll is just another way to bring home bread and Cody Cannon tells us bluntly. A poster that is, perhaps, one of the best songs ever recorded by Whiskey Myers. The solos are then of a sparkling beauty. I told you about the talent of Aaron Raitiere (here the review of his debut: https://trexroads.altervista.org/single-wide-dreamer-aaron-raitiere-2022-english/ ) here in Mission To Mars writes with Cody Cannon a wonderful piece, that runs on country rock tracks, a flavor of the past records that soul plunges into the new “world of Whiskey Myers”, with flashes of rock and roll as it was used in Memphis a few years ago. Mention for the text, one of my favorites, which tells us about a poor man who wants to do his mission to Mars, a modern Han Solo, who wants to escape in his own way from this world that reserves only pain. The solo’s got teeth shaking. Missing some kind of Fathers? Ah yes the blues! Here comes Bad Medicine, that both in the lyrics and in the music, draws hands-on in the guitar blues tradition, but the beauty of the Whiskey Myers songs is not to be static and you find yourself in a street rock song immersed in the soul of Motown. Crazy. A beautiful song that ends with other exceptional solos, to mark in the history books of rock. I didn’t want to be so long-winded, but really I would have struggled not to tell you about the two final songs: Other Side is rock, a 90’s hard rock flavor peeps out, the guitar sound reminds a lot of that period, but the lyrics, my friends, It is pure poetry, it has in itself that feeling that had “Simple Man” of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the narrative force is the same. Finally the album closes with an acoustic ballad that the intense voice of Cannon makes perfect, Heart of Stone is a real jewel in which the text is usually a disarming beauty, blends with the music and leaves us with these words that resonate in the ears: “But I’m learning how to love / I’m learning about the Lord above / I’m learning that he’s giving me more than anything I could dream of / I’m learning how to pray a little more everyday / I’m learning to accept the things about me I can’t change / And I carry on with a heart of stone / Calloused hands”. An album that will make you press repeat many times, an emotional journey through quality American music. An exciting, engaging, fresh, old, but new work, incisive and never banal and let me scream: lyrically touching. If you’ve loved them on previous records, you’ll love them more now. If you don’t know them, I won’t waste any more time, starting from Tornillo, go back and listen to all their exceptional discography, to thank me you will have time, you will find me here listening to one of the most exciting records of the last 30 years. Here another little ol’ band from Texas, made history and nothing will be like before.

Good listening,

Trex Willer by http://www.ticinonotizie.it

(you can find original italian article at this link : https://www.ticinonotizie.it/whiskey-myers-tornillo-2022-by-trex-roads/ )