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ZZ Top - Mescalero - New sounds from old boys

2006-03-29 18:30

Mescalero, the group's first album since 1999's XXX, see the "Little Ol' Band from Texas" continue their dubious affinity for songs about women, sex and cars, combining hillbilly immaturity with just the right amount of macho posturing.

Right, so you're thinking Mescalero sounds like the aural equivalent of the B-grade white trash flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Well, not quite. Sure, the guitar licks were born on the porches of shotgun shacks, but instead of offering another Deep South opus, the Tops expand their horizons to take in a surprisingly fluid stream of new sounds.

The bass-heavy mariachi of "Que Lastima" is a solid Latino number, with lyrics sung entirely in Spanish. The lines accompanying the explosive string rips and steel drum percussion of the title track follow suit, with only a few chorus lines translated into English. Note: the set is actually trilingual, with Gibbons' guitar speaking a language of its own.

In contrast, "Two Ways to Play" is a convergence of swamp blues and classic heavy metal, while the slick electric chords of "Alley-Gator" and the grunge-meets-techno tune "Me So Stupid" even adds an off the beat, but on the money contemporary edge. And the eclectic cocktail ain't emptied yet. The harmonica and rimshot rolls of "Liquor" gives a classic 12 bar of blues a kinky feel and there are even some blues filtered hip-hop touches to tracks like "Crunchy" and "Dusted".

Pick of the pack though has to be "Punk Ass Boyfriend," with Gibbons upstaging uppity nu-metal boy bands by combining his distinctive biting guitar solos with some flaming licks fuelled by an over the top set of "prom nightmare" lyrics.
After 34 years in the biz, Houston boogie 'n blues trio ZZ Top aren't getting any younger, but thanks to those Rip Van Winkle whiskers that almost completely cover their faces, they aren't getting any older either.


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