Surefooted, totally convincing 21st-century take on that late-’60s Stones sound. It’s a pleasure and more than a little of a relief to hear a band with the talent and aptitude to handle this particular twangy, rough-edged side of the rock idiom with clean production technique and honest to goodness songwriting chops. Weary I get of muddy, fatigued by excessive reverb. From the crisp acoustic strumming to the resonant bend of that countrified guitar to the spot-on backing singers, “Kick Me Where It Hurts” oozes both authenticity and proficiency. This is a highly recommended combination for anyone seeking a future in this brave new digital music world of ours.
And this thing isn’t just about a retro vibe. Vocalist Chaz Tolliver brings his own slightly vulnerable oomph to the Jaggeresque performance, greatly assisted by the song’s lyrical and melodic fluidity. Note how the chorus is very close in melody and spirit to the verse and yet completely separates itself. This makes the song feel really really solid, even as Tolliver sings like someone not quite recovered from his previous night’s binge. I think the pivotal moment is when we modulate from major to minor (first heard at 0:38), grounding us in a moment of poignancy (listen to Tolliver’s plaintive “Mama…”) before rolling onward. The lyrics, meanwhile, shine with an offhanded, Let It Bleed-like dexterity. “Stumbled on the D train in my military coat,” the second verse begins, just perfectly.
“Kick Me Where It Hurts” will be found on the the album At Maximum Volume, to be released next month on Underrated Records. It’s the hard-working band’s fifth in four years. MP3 via Underrated. Thanks to Consequence of Sound for the lead.