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Here to Stay

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Album Review

The Hogg Maulies are essentially a young, not too far out of college group of Texas boys making rocked-up country music. And while that may not sound like much of an enlightening listening experience for some, the charm and talent at work here are hard to deny. The group seems to have missed out on a couple of Americana movements into which it would have fit nicely (the roots rock and alternative country movements of the '90s), but the Hogg Maulies plow ahead here anyway, gritty guitars and classic rock intonations undercutting the unmistakable ruralisms. The title track is a straight-up roadhouse rocker full of hooks and edgily melodic guitar figures. It's all muscle and diesel and heartfelt sentiment, coming off like the Drive-By Truckers with a little less brainy yen for narrative. "Goodnight" burns like an unlikely marriage of Robert Earl Keen and the first Son Volt album, and points to the Hogg Maulies' prime strength: their winning way with a melody. This is simply a strong collection of songs meant for that proverbial (and clichéd) open highway, as long as the driver has an equal love of burning guitar and country twang. Here to Stay also calls to mind such underappreciated gritty purveyors of alt-country as Say Zuzu, a band that made great albums in this idiom and then matured out of vans and tours and broke up, leaving behind a string of great songs that not enough people ever heard. (Coincidentally, Say Zuzu's side project was called Hog Mawl.) It's good to know that when one great roots rock band drops the mantle, another one picks it up.

Here to Stay, Hogg Maulies
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