Diamond Rugs

Diamond Rugs – Cosmetics [album review]

by Woody on February 24, 2015

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With the release of their s/t debut in 2012, I figured Diamond Rugs was just a pleasant one-time project. With Deer Tick kicking into full gear and T. Hardy Morris embarking on a solo career in addition to his work with Dead Confederate, I didn’t see how they would make it happen again. And that’s not even mentioning the schedules of Ian St. Pe, Steve Berlin and Bryan Dufresne. So imagine my delight when they announced their follow up with Cosmetics.

The beauty of Diamond Rugs is that you know what you’re in for: a 40 minute tour de force of barroom rock n roll with big chords and a fat horn section. And while their main acts all fall in the rock n roll vein, they all have their own intricacies and blending those could have proved to be a hot mess. But instead of trying to puree them into a soup, Diamond Rugs turned them into Paella where you could still taste the individual flavors. That’s why their debut is still in constant rotation, and why Cosmetics will stay there as well.

On the heels of his excellent solo album, Morris has some really strong tracks in Thunk with Berlin’s meaty baritone sax buoying Morris’ weary voice. So What is a love song that bristles with a bratty defiance, thundering along with bravado thanks to the great bass line of Ian Crowell as Morris croons his love.

There are a couple of great tracks where St. Pe and McCauley’s vocals play off each other to maximum affect. They have a great ability to harmonize such as Couldn’t Help It but I really like when they trade the verses back and forth like Live and Shout It as McCauley casually offers St. Pe the response of “You Just Talk About It.” Its the kind of song that feels like it was made up on the spot and will easily be a concert favorite.

St. Pe says it best, “Cosmetics are products you put on your body to make you feel good,” St. Pé says. “Our music is the same. If you wanna be smart, read a book. If you wanna have a good time, come see the Diamond Rugs.”

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Diamond Rugs is here

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T. Hardy Morris – Painted On Attitude

by Woody on October 27, 2014

HardyECHO2
Photo by Scott Sheff

T. Hardy Morris is back with this second solo effort. Known more as the lead singer of HearYa faves, Dead Confederate and a cog in the supergroup – Diamond Rugs. For the follow up to last year’s excellent The Audition Tapes, Morris drew upon two former songs in particular. “Share The Needle”, from Audition Tapes, and “Country Mile”, a song he’d contributed to Diamond Rugs’ self-titled debut. Each of those tracks featured a distinct push-and-pull dynamic that ended up bridging the gap between the quieter country leanings of Audition Tapes, and the more aggressive grunge of Morris’ other band Dead Confederate.

Great track that really has be me itching to hear some more. He’ll be on tour and I’m sure he’ll be down at SXSW. He’s always down at SXSW.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

T. Hardy Morris is here

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Morris

I have been spinning this album for well over a month now and my appreciation for Morris is at an all-time high. I consider myself an avid fan of Dead Confederate and Diamond Rugs, and have gone back through both catalogs since obtaining The Audition Tapes. I have come to the conclusion that I have been undervaluing Morris.

Audition Tapes is a nice change up from the Dead Confederate sound. Morris picked up a case of the Twangs after spending some time with John McCauley during the Diamond Rugs recording. The opener, Lucky, sounds like something you would find off a Deer Tick album. The 2nd track Disaster Proof sees Morris revert to his Dead Confederate sound, albeit considerably more dialed down. I first heard the title track when I saw Morris opening up for Patterson Hood’s tour earlier this year. He had Thayer Sarrano on piano and the song was haunting. I found myself singing it for a month or so after without really remembering where I heard it.

During that show, I saw Patterson Hood watching Morris’ like a proud papa. I love it when you see another musician completely dialed into another’s live show. And when you have Patteson commenting on a blog post, you have to feel good about what you’re doing. And well he should, The Audition Tapes is a great album.

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Diamond Rugs – S/T Debut [Album Review]

by Woody on April 24, 2012

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.

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