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Smoke & Mirrors

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Album Review

If nothing else, the three-year interval between Dixie Witch's second and third albums declared their shared core philosophy as that of a touring — not a studio — band, and anyone who has witnessed the Texan trio's tee-total live performances is likely to forgive the long wait for new material for that very reason. However, for those not yet so fortunate, 2006's Smoke and Mirrors is notable for providing a closer approximation of that experience than either of its shiny round plastic predecessors. The hard-charging triple threat of "Set the Speed," "Shoot the Moon," and "S.O.L." opens the album much like they would one of the band's concerts: with the in-your-face, ear-ringing charge of guitarist Clayton Mills (distinctly more at ease showing off his flashy chops than most retro-rock axemen) and soulful growl of vocalist Trinidad Leal (always charismatic despite pounding the skins in back), while also resolving most any translation loss from real to reel. Thus, by the time Dixie Witch retract their claws in order to groove more relaxed and reflectively across "Ballinger Cross," and recycle the Black Crowes' "Seven Seas" for the still very likable "Out in the Cold," the ideal in-concert pacing is well and truly established. Unfortunately, the neither-here-nor-there indecision of a forgettable tandem ("Getaway" and "Bridges") finally blows the band's impressive head of steam so far, but the recurrence of several additional standouts (including the slide guitar-enhanced "What You Want" and the absolutely stunning ten-minute dreamlike instrumental sendoff "Last Call") recovers the impetus with enough time to deliver Smoke and Mirrors to a suitably rousing finale. Hope you enjoyed the show, so long, good night, and careful driving home, folks!


Formed: 1999 in Denton, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Drawing deep from the well of Southern rock and hard rock in general, Dixie Witch is, fittingly, from Denton, Texas. Trinidad Leal (drums and vocals), Clayton Mills (guitar), and Curt Christensen (bass) have been playing together since 1999. The trio's first record, Into the Sun, was produced by the band for Texas-based Brainticket Records and released in the summer of 2001. After extensive touring, including a stint supporting fellow heavy rockers Alabama Thunder Pussy, Dixie Witch signed with Detroit's...
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Smoke & Mirrors, Dixie Witch
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