Diamond Rugs - Diamond Rugs (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
ANYONE who got their musical kicks from listening to the debut album from Deer Tick last year would be well advised to check out Diamond Rugs‘ eponymous debut LP too.
A blue-collar super-group featuring members of Deer Tick, Black Lips, Los Lobos, Dead Confederate and Six Finger Satellite, this is a romp that channels many of the positive elements from all of the bands listed.
Robbie Crowell (Deer Tick), Ian Saint Pe (Black Lips), Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), and Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) have quite some calibre between them, including collaborations with the likes of Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello and The Replacements.
Now that they’re doing their own collaboration, though, the results are positively dazzling – raw, hedonistic, hard-rockin’ and nicely retro-leaning.
Opening track and lead single Hightail hot-foots Diamond Rugs into your sub-conscious with a toe-tappingly brilliant slice of punk-inflicted indie rock. Featuring a gravelly central vocal from McCauley, a bludgeoning drum pattern, some rip-roaring harmonica and a chugging riff, this is a blast that instantly endears itself.
Gimme A Beer maintains the early momentum with a song that’s destined to become an anthemic ode to drinking, while Big God punches its way into your head with a no-nonsense punk rock workout.
The first evidence of their ability to mix things up and toy with expectation is found on Call Girl Blues, a dirty, sexy ode to a hooker that features a bluesy guitar riff, some sleazy brass and another gutsy central vocal. A doo-wop style harmony over the chorus adds to the seductive appeal.
Out On My Own contains the kind of Americana-drenched rock values that Tom Petty has made a career out of, Country Mile delivers a scuzzy tale of gambling addiction that’s intermittently broken up with country-tinged guitars, and Totally Lonely broods all over the place, thanks to a striking vocal that seems to be channelling Roy Orbison and a stripped back instrumental approach. It’s a moment that stops you in your tracks.
Blue Mountains declares “you really blow my fucking mind” over a Pixies-style refrain, Motherland delivers a harmonica-soaked blues-rocker of extremely high quality and Tell Me Why is a toe-tapper par excellence that channels post-punk Strokes, albeit embellished with some fun stabs of dirty brass.
Entering the final straight, the anthemic Hungover and Horny boasts lines like “hungover and horny, too sick to call, I’m as hard as a rock, I should be having a ball”. It’s built around sharp hooks, laughter-inducing lyrics and a lived-in, partied out sense of revelry (Keith Richards eat your heart out baby… and yes, it does drop a certain early Stones vibe!).
And then finally, the band prove their not averse to an odd ballad… albeit one couched in their own hard-living terms. As if to confound expectation to the last, final track Christmas In A Chinese Restaurant offers an unseasonal, none too jolly, piano-based ballad that smacks of loneliness, desperation and dejection. Yet, it’s subversively brilliant, right down to the sax instrumental.
Trust us, you need to check these guys out. They’ll put a big sloppy grin on your face.
Download picks: Hightail, Gimme A Beer, Hungover and Horny, Call Girl Blues, Out On My Own, Totally Lonely, Motherland, Christmas In A Chinese Restaurant