Poor Mrs. McCauley. Raising John must have been some chore. Based on his musical career, I doubt he sat still for more than 10 minutes. Any time, he has more than a month to recuperate from Deer Tick albums and touring, he opts to gather friends, create a new band and crank out a new album. First Middle Brother and now Diamond Rugs.
Diamond Rugs is a collaboration between John McCauley (Deer Tick), Robbie Crowell (Deer Tick), Ian Saint Pé (The Black Lips), Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate) and Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite).
McCauley continues his adulation of all things Replacements with gems such as “Gimme A Beer” (incluing a nice shoutout to Geto Boys and fans of Office Space), “Call Girl Blues” and “Hungover and Horny” (this was Jefe’s theme song for SXSW). And while the album and its songs won’t elicit high praise from the high-brow press, sometimes its good to let primal instincts take over and drink beer out of a can with a pizza sauce stain on my shirt. Diamond Rugs’ songs are rough around the edges, but they certainly fill a need in my book.
I’ve never been a Black Lips fan but Saint Pé delivers a couple of great tunes in the opener “Hightail” and later on “Blue Mountains.” Both are rollicking with a dirty guitar lick and Saint Pé delivers the vocals with the devil-may-care attitude that he exhibits during his live sets.
But the best tune on the album belongs to Morris. Coming off a rather lackluster second album by Dead Confederate and surrounded by such big personalities such as Saint Pé and McCauley, I wouldn’t have guessed that he’d be the standout. On Country Mile, placed in the middle of the album, Hardy packs a heavy wallop. It fires up all fuzzy, dense and brooding like some of Dead Confederate’s best stuff. Morris sings as if he can barely give a shit but then it shifts into a bouncy alt-country number; and then back again.
“It’s about a friend of mine who has been bound to a wheelchair his whole life” said Morris, “but is an extraordinary dude and has definitely ‘stood up’ to more than most people. It’s supposed to sound both painful and pretty.”
This is bro-rock. Music for slapping high-fives and generally acting like a jackass. I can get completely lost in the beauty of densely complex bands like Other Lives. In fact, I love that stuff. But there are times when my musical intellect needs to be abandoned. And that’s when bands like Diamond Rugs are needed.