The Dirty River Boys - The Dirty River Boys
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The Dirty River Boys (Fader, 2014)

The Dirty River Boys

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

The Dirty River Boys latest self-titled release is a mix of country, folk and rock. Several tracks recall the work of Mumford & Sons, particularly the folk-rocker "Thought I'd Let You Know" and the Irish-tinged "Sailed Away." Another strong folk track is the haunting ballad "So Far Away" ("Secrets untold are lies that unfold/Invading the soul like a cancer").

Amongst the strongest country tunes are "Didn't Make the Cut," reminiscent of The Byrds' "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" era, and the rocking alt.-country opening track "Down By The River" co-written by members of the band with Ray Wylie Hubbard. The impressive "Scraping the Bottom" has a touch of Johnny Cash's dark side ("And sometimes at night I pray forgiveness for all I've done/But sometimes I get to drinking, causing hell for everyone").

Other highlights are the nostalgic "Skate and Destroy," which looks back fondly on youthful days spent skateboarding, but acknowledges the pitfalls ("Ditches do more than just bang you up" and "Coming up short always hurt like hell"), and "Teenage Renegade," in which an attempt to revisit the past ("I went looking for my youth in the attic/I held it tight but it slipped away") fails to satisfy ("Some moments are lost forever/Caught in the cobwebs of your mind").

The one misstep is the rocker "Highway Love" with its arrangement reminiscent of the Jet tune "Are You Gonna Be My Girl."

Produced by Chris "Frenchie" Smith, who also contributes on guitar and backing vocals, the instrumentation is stellar throughout with bandmates Sean "Nino" Cooper (guitar, mandolin), Marco Gutierrez (guitar), Colton James (bass, banjo) and Travis Stearns (drums, percussion). With strong performances and mostly solid songwriting, this is an impressive effort by the El Paso-based country rockers.

CDs by The Dirty River Boys

The Dirty River Boys, 2014

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