Milwaukee's Hugh Bob & the Hustle debut with 11 thoughtful but fun country rock songs that are assured, appealing and, uh, good to the last High Life.
Led by Butternut, Wisc.-native Hugh Robert Masterson, the band comes across as a laid back bunch that you'd like to hang out with and listen to Moe Bandy or Dick Curless records. Indeed, that feeling, and lack of pretension or insincerity, is what makes the album successful in part. Despite the sad nature of some of the lyrics, it's not solitary music because the band sounds like they are having such a good time together. Beer and drinking, of course, is a familiar country (and Milwaukee) theme and the Hustle explores it thoroughly throughout the album, on songs like the chugging "Mess With Me," and most explicitly in "This Bar is a Prison," a nifty number that boasts groovy guitar work, handclapping and a sing-along chorus.
Nikki Lane joins Masterson on "My Truck Feels Like Driving," a wonderfully descriptive "can't-wait-to-get-home-to-you"-type song. Masterson is quite good at capturing evocative details in his songs, like on the low-key "Red, White and Blue Jeans" or the album-ending nod to his hometown, "Butternut," with the great line, "The Fourth of July parade consisted of a semi-truck carrying the 4-H queen/had a few at the tractor pull, I sat right on the tilt-a-whirl, by then, I was ready to dance."
It's well worth catching up with the Hustle.