I had the privilege of seeing The Deadstring Brothers last night at a tiny place here in Arlington known as The Iota Club. There couldn’t have been more than 40 people in the audience, including the opening act. I haven’t seen a tighter, more talented ensemble in a very long time. I always enjoyed their recorded work, but live . . . The songs are just blueprints for scorching guitar work, powerful rhythms, and some of the most enthusiastic vocals I’ve ever heard. On wax, you don’t hear how amazing talented Spencer, their lead guitar player, really is–nothwithstanding that he looks like a 12-year-old Joey Ramone.

They mostly performed material from their new one, and the title track was smoking hot. Other highlights were a rough and raw “Black Coffee;” a “Blindfolded” that shook the rafters; and “You Look Like the Devil.” And when they whipped out a cover of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In,” they blew the bricks out of the walls and sent them flying into the street. Dogs caught on fire and babies fell from the sky. My only regret is that when they asked for suggestions on what to play, I didn’t shout out “Where Are All My Friends?” I fucking love that song.

If you get a chance to see them, don’t ask any questions. It’s not country, it’s not blues, it’s rock and roll of the sort the Rolling Stones made before 1974. If you’re not a regular reader, or if you never downloaded these songs before, your assignment is to do so now. Now, dammit! Their newest album is one of the best of the year so far, and if you don’t like them, you just haven’t heard them yet.

1. Silver Mountain

2. Lonely Days

3. Heavy Load

4. Where Are All My Friends?

5, 6., 7. Go here for a few live tracks from an in-studio performance

8. Sacred Heart

9. Get Up Jake

10. Stream a few more, including “No Hiding Love,” at their Myspace page.

Drop me a comment and tell me I’m right.

And here’s 10 more reasons I’m glad I saw them:

10. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
9. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
8. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
7. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
6. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
5. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
4. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
3. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
2. The Deadstring Brothers rock.
1. The Deadstring Brothers fucking rock.

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