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Not That Lucky

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Two Tons of Steel has been one of San Antonio's biggest bands for almost two decades. Most of the players have been holding down day jobs, which has hampered their fortunes outside of the Lone Star State, but their annual "Two Ton Tuesdays," a summer residency at Gruene Hall, one of the state's best-known dancehalls, have been selling out the club for more than a decade. The band lives up to its name with a sound that could almost be called heavy metal country, a larger than life vibe marked by Dennis Fallon's twang-heavy guitar and the passionate vocals of singer, songwriter, and frontman Kevin Geil. Geil writes tunes that jump out of the speakers and grab you around the neck with the force of a lonesome drunk in a smoky, Saturday night honky tonk. He shows off his songwriting chutzpah early on by referencing Elvis Presley on "Hold Over Me," a tough country-rock love song. Most writers who to try to get mileage out of dropping the King's name tend to get overly sentimental and maudlin. Geil's irony and Fallon's crunchy, electric 12-string guitar save the tune from the usual excesses. When Geil says he was "singing songs just like Elvis" he's so full of rock swagger that he pulls it off — and he also doesn't try to ape Presley's vocal style — always a good thing. The band tops off the arrangement with a "yeah, yeah, yeah" quote from the Beatles. That takes confidence and audacity, and these guys have both. There isn't a weak track on the record. They open the album with the Bakersfield-flavored rockabilly rave-up "Cryin' Eyes," and include the surf boogie of "Not That Lucky," the big moody love song "Run to You," the slap bass-heavy rocker "Wanna Dance," and the punky country of the sizzling "Bad Attitude." They cover Fred Eaglesmith's ode to Hank Williams, Sr. "Alcohol and Pills," and make it sound like an original, and play Tom Gillam's "Bottom of the Bottle" with a flair worthy of Bob Wills. Not That Lucky was produced by Lloyd Maines, who gives the tunes some sharp studio polish without diminishing the band's considerable energy. They're clearly an act to watch. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Not That Lucky, Two Tons of Steel
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