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Dog Days

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Album Review

For a while, BR5-49 were supposed to be the band who could save Nashville from the worst impulses of the music business, but Music City turned out to be a bit stronger than they were. After a pair of major label deals went south, the trad-country upstarts started to splinter, with bassist Jay McDowel and guitarist/vocalist Gary Bennett leaving the band in 2001. BR5-49 bounced back for 2004's fine indie offering Tangled in the Pines, but new members Chris Scruggs and Geoff Firebaugh had already parted ways with the group by the time they were ready to record again, and when multi-instrumentalist Don Herron was tapped to join Bob Dylan's road band, it was an open question if BR5-49 would survive to go into the studio again. The good news is that they have, and if the four-piece edition of BR5-49 that recorded Dog Days is a leaner and less rambunctious outfit than the folks who cut the Live at Robert's EP in 1996, they still have plenty to offer, and in many respects this is the group's bravest album yet. While musically "Bottom of Priority" is pure old-school country, the lyrics (about embattled Native American activist Leonard Peltier) are the last thing you might expect from this band, and all the more powerful for it. "Lower Broad Street Blues" is a bittersweet look at the scene that gave birth to the band (co-written with the great Guy Clark), the cover of Tim Carroll's "After the Hurricane" gains a whole new poignancy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (as does their ode to the pleasures of life in Louisiana, "Cajun Persuasion"), and "Let Jesus Make You Breakfast" is as engaging and odd as anything this band has ever released. The arrangements on Dog Days are tighter and simpler than before, but they're also effective, with Herron still playing up a storm on anything handed to him, and Chuck Mead still a gifted and versatile vocalist. John Keane's clean and unobtrusive production is the perfect complement to the group's new sound, and the result is an album that sounds different than BR5-49 have in the past, but still displays the same musical honesty and integrity that's always been their hallmark. BR5-49 live, and on Dog Days that's a fine thing indeed.

Customer Reviews

Worth the Bucks...not to mention the Cash and the Hags

The boys in BR549 have been through so much and that life experience really comes out on this record. While I will always think of them as one of the best live bands around- it is really refreshing to hear them explore some of the darker aspects of country music on 'Dog Days'. There are plenty of great rockin' party tunes but there is a nice edge to this one. Buck, Cash and Hag would be proud of this one.

Now We're Talkin'

I pride myself on liking good music in a wide variety of genre. This is just good music...plain and simple. I've always enjoyed seeing the band live and I can't wait to see them again when they (hopefully) tour for this album in the "Bay Area." I especially like "Poison" and "The devil & Me." Great job boys!

Great Music

Hard to believe that almost 30 years ago Chuck and I were in High School. Look how far he and the band have come. This is another fine example of how musicians who love what they are doing can turn out music with heart and soul. Too many 'musicians' today are canned 'flavor-of-the-month' that have to fit a formula. BR549 fits no formula and for that I'm thankful. Hats off to you Chuck and the rest of the band. Jeff F Class of '79 LHS.


Formed: Nashville, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

One of the most critically acclaimed alternative country bands of the '90s, BR5-49's sound, style, and even look were unabashedly retro. Dressing in old, budget-friendly clothes, the band played a mixture of classic '50s honky tonk, Western swing, boogie, Bakersfield country, rockabilly, and Gram Parsons-style country-rock. The group was founded by guitarists/vocalists Gary Bennett and Chuck Mead in early 1993, not long after they'd moved to Nashville from the Pacific Northwest and Kansas, respectively....
Full Bio