Dash Rip Rock Black Liquor

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Despite a history dating back to the mid-'80s, Dash Rip Rock is rarely mentioned as one of Americana's forefathers. It's likely because the Louisiana trio lean more toward the rock end of the alt-country spectrum, and that hasn't lessened at all on Black Liquor, their 14th release. In fact, the album finds them in top form, especially singer/guitarist Bill Davis, whose soloing hits majestic heights on the opening barrage of tunes. But as Black Liquor unfolds, Davis's songs reveal a different side of Louisiana, not the common images of New Orleans' cultural gumbo. Davis's territory is the dirty industrial towns elsewhere in the state, where oil and gas companies dominate all aspects of life. It's not an entirely grim picture painted by songs like "Blood Swamp" and "Tugboats," and in some ways, Davis takes perverse pride in how, as he says in the title track, "everyone dies by 65." Making the most out of the time until then is the foundation of Black Liquor, and the result is a great American rock'n'roll record, with just enough Cajun spice. (Alternative Tentacles)