Izzys The Violent Bear It Away

Equal parts jagged street swagger, frayed country ballads and boozed-up blues, the third record from this NYC quartet seems torn largely from the Rolling Stones playbook, circa 1971. Album opener "The Madman Sleeps” and the rough-hewn "Dead Man” are driven by Keith’n’Ronnie-style interplay between singer (and sole songwriter) Mike Storey and fellow guitarist Steve Strohmeier, while "Slow Drag” finds the two trading ragged, grabbed-at harmonies. The album’s highlight is traditional blues number "Real Cocaine Blues,” given a live-off-the-floor treatment here to gloriously ramshackle effect. That said, The Violent Bear It Away is not simply a collection of Stones-ian riffsmithery. The oddly named "Drinking Who Hit John,” as well as the title track, bears witness to the band’s artier ambitions, while poetic closer "Gone (Like Fighting Fire)” suggests less conventional possibilities for the future. (Fat Man)