Burlington can claim its fair share of Americana acts, most of 'em on the mellower, acoustic side of the fence. That's not the case with Chuch, a defiantly rockin' quartet that has enjoyed a fair amount of acclaim, locally and otherwise, since coming together a few years ago. The band's blue-collar work ethic means they've damn-straight earned it.
Chuch's soon-to-be-released sophomore album, Juarez, finds the boys doing what they do best - namely, burning some serious sonic rubber on 10 tracks of bang 'n' twang.
Juarez kicks off with the appropriately titled "Intro," a back-porch harmonica blues instrumental that brings to mind warm beer and certain barnyard aromas. "High on a Good Day," a moody rocker full of misanthropic observations about how the other half lives, immediately follows. That'd be the privileged half, if you hadn't guessed.
On "Few Good Things," Chuch fire up the wah-wah guitar for a slice of psychedelic Americana. The tune bears a resemblance to rootsy rockers Cracker, both musically and vocally. Chuch's rhythm section - composed of bassist Noah Crowther and his drummer brother Justin - duke it out in the song's midsection before guitarist Chad Hammaker takes over with a rough-and-tumble solo.
Chuch's "gang-vocal" approach works well on most cuts, including the slow-burning "Tumbleweed." "I saw the fire burn / A snake almost bit my brother on the leg," the band members sing. It's as if four slightly intoxicated dudes were telling you a bizarre bar story at the same time.
Unfortunately, some of the album seems to drag. The band's debut featured a good mix of up-tempo and laid-back cuts, but Juarez occasionally gets stuck in mid-gear. Tunes such as "Riverhorse" and "Hold Me Down" are solid enough, but could benefit from some metronomic variation.
"Goodbye" switches things up a tad with slick high-hat work and some tasty guitar harmonics. "Goodbye to everyone, or so it seems," they sing in the tune's rugged chorus. Lap steel/dobro dude Matt Hayes showcases some sweet slide playing on subsequent track "$50 Guitar" - easily the hardest-hitting tune on the album.
Juarez winds up with the somber-sounding "Chevy," which features cool sustained guitar lines and phased vocals. "Wake up early to deal with a bunch of shit / You can't ever sleep enough to feel good enough about it," state the depressive lyrics. Still, the sentiment will be familiar to many.
Chuch are gearing up for another round of national touring this summer, so fans will want to catch the Juarez CD release party this Friday at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge with Four on the Floor and Brett Hughes and Tyler Bolles.