Johnny Bertram & The Golden Bicycles Days That Passed

Beard rock isn't exactly a genre you'll see popping up on iTunes anytime soon. At least, not until Days That Passed (the debut full-length from Johnny Bertram & the Golden Bicycles) starts gaining steam. Combining the rugged, but approachable, feel of the Drive-By Truckers and the elated melodies that will continue to chart the course of Band of Horses, Bertram's nod-along tunes will find homes at all-night sessions around a campfire (the rustling stomp of "Fortification") and well, anywhere else that welcomes old plaid shirts and scraggly beards with open arms. There's a charming, vintage feel to much of Days That Passed, as Bertram espouses a honky tonk, classic rock mentality on "Private Land" that will have everyone begging for just one more cigarette. Bertram is clearly a student of the bands that came before him, sounding rather comfortable crafting accessible and patient tunes with clever touches of his personality. It's one that has roots in both the Pacific Northwest and Mississippi, two locations steeped in rich musical history. Remarkably, Bertram manages to do justice to both. (Esperanza Plantation)