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Rancho Los Angeles

Merle Jagger

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Album Review

Perhaps this L.A.-based trio of sessionaires called their exuberant electric hillbilly experiment "Merle Jagger" because "Mick Haggard" didn't have the right ring to it, but the hybrid idea is clear and brilliant — fusing bluegrass, hard country-rock, and jazz into an instrumental cauldron that is unlike anything any of those individual genres has heard before. Driven by Mark Christian's blazing, lightning-fast electric guitar, banjo, and mandolin, Patrick Flores' bubbling bass, and Brandon Goldstein's explosive drumming, this disc is a sh*tkicker's dream, a near hour of fast-paced, raucous party music that flies in the face of much of today's ultra slick country-pop. Think Johnny Cash on speed, and you're off to a good start on the slammin' opening track, "Ranchero," and on "Ranch Party." They crank it up even more for the appropriately titled "Hillbilly No. 9," which makes you wonder how incredibly rockin' the other eight were. "In Through the Out Take" is a little more conventionally bluesy, but "Trash Tornado" is a place where surf guitar wears a cowboy hat that just won't stay on. Even when "Granny Takes a Trip," she's flyin' off her rocker. Anyone who's ever loved country-rock, modern or classic, will enjoy the trip; these guys do their namesakes, Mick Jagger and Merle Haggard, very proud.

Rancho Los Angeles, Merle Jagger
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