The Rockford Mules – The Last Camaro
This is a slim set from the Twin Cities music scene band The Rockford Mules — playing together since 2005 & perhaps earlier. They’ve released 3 full-length LPs & this is their first new music in 12 years.
Their zealous 70s-style rock is somewhat of a reunion & the 5 tunes show no difference except maybe it’s the same aggression with a little white hair in the beards planted when the wind was blowing. It’s all American brewed. Not quite garage rock & not quite a sound cluster of progressive rock perfection. What it displays is heart & soul, nothing contrived but a heady amount of well-integrated guitar crunch with exuberance. It actually has a nice mindful encapsulation of a band known as Gun from the late ’60s – led by the brothers Adrian & Paul Curtis (Gurvitz) who also played with Ginger Baker.
The guitars don’t ignite like a Stevie Ray Vaughn blues attack instead there’s a Ramone punk sharply honed guitar technique that spreads over the melodic additives of The Last Camaro (Drops Nov 25– Independent/20:00). The sound is intriguing because it doesn’t get sloppy. “Sweet Highway Mile,” smokes down the mile markers & leaves the side of the road smoldering.
Oh, there are bands that came before with this immediacy (Montrose, Gun, Baker-Gurvitz Army) but this is that kind of musical aggregation in 2023. Still pounding like an anvil, still spreading sparks across the stage & at times (“Gringo”) with a style & substance somewhat like Z.Z. Top at their most remarkable accessible stages. Very likable.
Toned down a bit without losing grit & rock n’ roll altitude is “Honeydripper,” with a nice clean guitar mélange. The vocals are totally different from the other tunes – more bluesier & Paul Rodgers-inspired. That “All Right Now,” by Free type of drive. The guitars drip with a wall of sound as it progresses. It only proves that the old-world guitar attack is alive & well & being maintained by these 4 men stylistically.
There’s a dated arrangement to some tunes but that’s what made this kind of music attractive when it was riding the charts. The excitement quotient is solid since the band doesn’t parody the old, it sustains the tradition originally. And they do it quite well.
Highlights – “Leave the Dirt On,” “Sweet Highway Mile,” “Gringo” & “Honeydripper.”
Musicians – Craig Peck (bass), Erik Tasa (vocals/guitar), Ryan Rud (guitar/lap steel) & Joel Habedank (drums).
Photo courtesy of their website + Elephants & Flowers. CD @ Amazon & Bandcamp + https://therockfordmules.com/