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KnockDown South

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Album Review

On his fourth album, ex-Squirrel Nut Zippers founder Mathus continues to mine the dirty, swampy blues-rock that he has been mired in throughout his solo career. Recording at his own Clarksdale, MS-based Delta Recording Service studio, Mathus kept the sound stripped down but full. He even goes acoustic on a few tracks, in particular the Stonesy "Loose Diamonds," an Exile on Main St.-styled tune augmented by a small but effective horn section. Rather than keep the same backing unit for each track, Mathus lists over a dozen musicians who contribute to the album, but frustratingly does not specify what song each played on. The sound thumps and pumps along as Mathus rides on scuzzy riffs such as the grimy rocking of "Be That Way" and the opening "Crazy Bout You." He keeps his guitar solos as ragged as the music, creating a mood that boogies along at its own pace. The vibe shifts into early Allman Brothers Band mode on "Rolling Like a Log," a slab of Southern funk driven by organ, nasty slide guitar, and a "Whipping Post" intensity that works despite the obvious ABB influence. Bubbling congas, backing female vocals, and Mathus' low-key singing propel the soulful ballad "Hypnotized." Those elements add a mysterious and slightly dangerous texture to the song. Mathus even goes straight honky tonk on the unplugged "Loving Arms," with impressive results. The closing solo gospel of "Asked My Captain" brings it all home. Certainly his most diverse offering, Knockdown South is a tough, jagged, yet electrifying album that shows the terse power of Southern blues-rock when it is played by musicians with vision and an understanding of the genre's muddy roots.


Born: August, 1967 in Oxford, MS

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Jim "Jimbo" Mathus first gained fame as the co-founder of the retro-swing outfit the Squirrel Nut Zippers. But after the group's messy breakup, he went on to a prolific career as a guitarist, songwriter, and producer, defining his own brand of revved-up blues and roots music. Using a variety of stage names, including James Mathus, Jas Mathus, Jimbo "Hambone" Mathus, and Jimbo Mathus, he first began stepping out on his own as a sideman with one-time Zippers' violinist Andrew Bird. Mathus appeared...
Full bio
KnockDown South, Jimbo Mathus
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Blues
  • Released: 25 January 2005

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