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Swamp Rat - Swamp Rat

Swamp Rat

Swamp Rat

WBE 002

Available from iTunes.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

This CD surprises in so many ways. Not only is Swamp Rat a tiiiiiight bluegrassy trio, but they've attracted, on this *debut* CD, Sam Bush, Steve Wariner, Tracy Byrd, and others. Then there's the incredibly clean dimensional recording (4 sets of hands) with accompanying artwork by comic book cool guy Marc Hempel (Gregory, Tug & Buster, etc.), and, gawdammit, THIS HI-FALUTIN' BASTARD ROCKS!!!

The first cut, Nose Whistlin' (In a Tizzy) is unreal-good, a grinning, picking, warped instrumental that hops, skips, and pounces. Then there's the whirlwind Klezmer Magic that''s soooo klez, it's almost Carnatic. Dan Cohen is one hell of a guitar player and Sam Bush cuts in right behind him on dynamo mando but you have to hear what Cohen does with his axe—I swear: even Joe Satriani hasn't pushed out some of the sounds this guy wrings. Each cut's an absolute drop-dead gem and will draw gasps from listeners in the entire music spectrum: rock, country, bluegrass, swing, you name it. Ears are going to sizzle. Heck, Twitchy even reminds me of the best of the obscure but superb Pure Food and Drug Act, when Harvey Mandel was at his best.

This one's in a Certified Guitar Picker class not just for Cohen's chops (and everyone else's) but the sheer brilliance of the entire package. I'm tellin' ya, Chet Atkins would've been delighted to have heard this pristine collection of stunners. And, for the offbeat visual element, Marc Hempel's rat cartooning is miles better than the crap Matt Howarth's pooting out for Hugh Hopper over in the prog camp. All in all, Swamp Rat is a 100%er in every possible way, mixing the corn liquor cut-ups of our grandparents just-post-prairie days with a martini lounge Roy Rogers 50s vibe and an up-to-the-minute rock, newgrass, ultra-hip country, newfangled fusion thingie. I can't believe I'm hearing what I'm hearing! And the tracks are all originals written by band members. What can't these guys do???

And…sigh!…hellfire, why am I now hearing all these unbelievable CDs after I picked my 2008's 10 Best?!?! Oh well, I can reconcile myself that this album will most definitely be on the List in Jan. 2010. In case I haven't made it crystal, shinily, noisily, unmitigatedly, drop-dead clear: I'm talking here about a perfect CD!

Track List:

  • Nose Whistlin' (In a Tizzy)
  • Back on the farm
  • Klezmer Magic
  • Spankin' It
  • Stella II
  • Take Her Out of Texas
  • Stella I
  • Twitchy
  • Lullaby
  • Something Goofy
  • I'm Leaving at 5
  • Better Let Go

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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