REVIEW: The Drunken Hearts “Wheels of the City” is all Golden


This was produced with a nice bottom-heavy production from the word go. Lead singer Andrew McConathy is not an imitation, he does emulate expressively a pure Eddie Vedder alt-country vocal halfway to deep-voiced Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies vocalist). But the Hearts’ music has musicality: it’s all golden.

The arrangement approach cherry picks Pearl Jam & substitutes their grunge intensity for more rootsy melodies. There’s a dash of early Counting Crows (Adam Duritz), but the Drunken Hearts add their own pound of soul. There’s a suggestion of the warm nostalgic feel of Big Back 40 (“Blood” & “Been So Gone”) & C. Gibbs Band (“Drag the Ashes”). As heard on “Two Hearts.” But if they’ve never heard these artists it’s only to mean Colorado’s Drunken Hearts are in good company. This is what makes this 11-track LP interesting.

There are few modern singers today who tread this deep into musical water with such an expansive spirit. Produced by Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) on LoHi Records the LP drops Oct 18th & features Andrew with Cody Russell (pedal steel, lap steel, banjo & dobro), Kory Montgomery (lead guitarist, vocals), Jon McCartan (bass, vocals) & drummer Alex Johnson.

Made up of songs that emphasize positivity they start with “Fire in a House,” — a typical classic rock era swipe without sounding too retro. What’s commendable is the band maintains an absorbing pace. McConathy could even one day explore a blues idiom.

Every song wears a different suit of clothes & looks good in each. Some tunes drag but these are wrinkles better worked out during live performances. The recording is still produced at a high level of quality, & the confidence these musicians extoll is evident. On the moderate “Alive n’ Free,” lead guitarist Kory plays a nice melodic line & the song’s laid out superbly. Though there are moments they tip toward a Marshal Tucker Band tradition, the tune “Run It All Together,” has an Adam Duritz vocal flavor but — its a performance of pure Drunken Hearts, With a crawling Kory lead guitar followed by Cody’s guitars. Dynamic. Exciting.

Rock & roll seeps into the fibers of “Unrest.” Its piano pounds as drums bop similar to The Beatles White Album years — quite impressive. This song is stellar. Tim Carbone played piano on this one. They say this song is Pink Floyd-like. I beg to differ. It’s The Beatles without a doubt.

As an instrumental “The Cave,” closes with a retro psychedelic fuzz & drum style. Notable from hard rock bands like Iron Butterfly, Gun & Blue Cheer. Now that’s a U-turn in the middle of the turnpike. But, it’s good. Doesn’t belong with the rest of these great tunes though and a little dated. Or, maybe…that’s what was meant to be. Reminiscent of legendary bands like Poco (“Crazy Eyes”), The Grateful Dead (“Touch of Grey”), & mid-career Moby Grape (“Truly Fine Citizen”), this is worth investigating.


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