Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Lucero- 1372 Overton Park
Back when Lucero played warehouses and released scrappy attic recordings on hand-packaged LPs, the Memphis band felt like an epiphany. Granted, Lucero wasn’t the first group to smash punk zeal into country-rock tradition, but it was the best at the time, and did so on wholly punk-rock terms. Ten years on, the group has released 1372 Overton Park, its major-label debut. Not only is it a sonic leap for Lucero, it’s another epiphany: Having long outgrown the warehouse, leader Ben Nichols and crew have embraced their legendary Memphis forebears by adding a robust horn section (courtesy of Memphis soul legend Jim Spake) and an epic sweep on par with Lucero’s closest cousin, Drive-By Truckers. Overton’s tracks cover Nichols’ typically gravely domain—anthemic barnburners like “Sounds Of The City” to twang-laden weepers like “Can’t Feel A Thing”—but there’s also stomping Southern boogie on “The Devil And Maggie Chascarillo,” a raucous homage to Los Bros Hernandez’s Love And Rockets comics, and a newfound brassy punch that recalls everything from Stax classics to The Replacements’ Pleased To Meet Me. With young contenders like The Gaslight Anthem hot on their heels, the members of Lucero have shown that they can still stretch, grow, and move forward—even while keeping a reverent eye on the rearview mirror.