Apparently, Dead Confederate made a small splash at SXSW this year, and it was a blog about the band’s performance there that got me interested. I went to eMusic and downloaded the EP, expecting little more than Drive-By Trucker rehash, but willing to give it a try. Boy am I glad I did.

Yeah, the band is similar to DBTs in both subject-matter and genre (as well as geographic origin), but they are younger and fresher. Where Patterson Hood sounds like he’s got a foot in the grave, Dead Confederate have spring in their step, even when the content is dark. For example, “Memorial Day Night” is a painful ballad of a man who doesn’t have his girl’s heart, “now that the truth is all out,” and therefore, he is a man who “has no heart” at all. Touching lyrics and brevity mark this brilliant tune, and the simple melody is crisp and pure, where other Southern rockers tend to prefer mud and grit. The juxtaposition works well here, as it does in the ‘70s style Skynyrd piece, “Tortured-Artist Saint,” which looms then swells then comes back down into a jam and then crashes out. The signature tune is “The Rat,” a barnburner that should be posted on every blog in the universe but for some reason, isn’t.

You need to hear this band’s stunning debut.

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