REVIEW: ‘Wheels of the City’ by The Drunken Hearts is a soundtrack for the open road


Bands are always looking for new ways to explore the creative process. For The Drunken Hearts, that meant going into the studio one day after the release of the self-produced album The Prize. Working with producer Tim Carbone at Silo Sound Studios in Denver, the band recorded one song a day until the album was complete. The result is an album called Wheels of the City that just may end up in your heavy rotation.

The album begins with “Fire in a House”, a song that sets the tone for the album. It’s a midtempo roots rock song with a pensive feel. In a voice similar to Eddie Vedder, Andrew McConathy sings about how love is like “a fire in a house that you can’t put out.” It’s easy to imagine this as a song that everyone in the crowd sings at a Drunken Hearts show.

“Alive ‘n Free” is a mellow song that will get you thinking. It is a song about “flying across the stars” and living your life free. The space between the notes of Cody Russell’s pedal steel kind of give you the sense of flying through the stars. This would be a pretty good choice if you need a song for a stretch of open road with the windows open and the wind blowing through your hair.

Between the piano, the tempo, and the rhythm section (Jon McCartan on bass and Alex Johnson on drums), “Unrest” has more of a rock and roll feel than some of the other songs. That being said, when you hear the spacey pedal steel in this song, it’s hard not to think of “expanding your mind” in a desert somewhere.

Throughout the album, you hear examples of McConathy’s way of painting a picture with his words. The best example of that is in the title track. Over a gentle rhythm and a muted melody, he sings about someone who sleeps in a doorway, back to the wall. He goes on to sing, “Let’s build a bridge and not a wall. Something to bind us and not to divide us all.” While the subject matter is heavy, the message is ultimately one of hope that is accented nicely with some horns at the end.

From slow, thoughtful songs to foot-stompers like “Two Hearts on a Limb” and the country funk of “In the Middle”, this band shows its songwriting strength. The lyrics are evocative and the melodies stick with you. Wheels of the City (LoHi Records) will be available everywhere on October 18. Order your copy here.


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