The Doc Marshalls Honest For Once

For anyone preferring jalapeno peppers in their alt-country stew, Brooklyn's The Doc Marshalls will confound, confuse and thoroughly entertain. Equal parts Flying Burritos, Jason and the Scorchers and Mamou Playboys, they merge guitar, pedal steel, fiddle and accordion to powerful effect. Lead vocalist/songwriter Nicolas Beaudoing is a fortifying blend of Dwight Yoakum and Chris Hillman, yet his Texas and Acadian roots send him hurtling towards the dance floor at a moment's notice. The DM's repertoire fuses Cajun stomp and swing to their otherwise desert-ready country rock sound. Guitarist Matt Walsh alternates with fiddler Mat Kane for sheer firepower across 11 Beaudoing-penned originals that run the gamut between ass-kickers to comparatively mellow rockers. Usual themes of lovers and losers give way to more sensitive observations, yet there's no shortage of barn-burning energy to keep things hopping. Guest Eric Ambel adds guitar torque to three tracks, including one of the disc's strongest songs, "St. Dymphna." The traditional "Deux Bouteilles" and "Port Barre Stomp," both sung in French, contrast nicely with "Lonely at the Top," a dead-ringer for something the Mavericks might have done. As schizophrenic an offering as this is, this disc remains a party waiting to happen. (Independent)