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Homespun: Fattback 


Fattback's Canary might be the most fun local album released so far this year. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has caught the quintet's occasional stint as a Huey Lewis & the News cover band. (For real: They nailed "Heart and Soul.") On Canary, the band's barroom blues and punked-up honky-tonk riffs combine with nonsensical lyrics and hearty, greasy vocals to create a nonstop tour of unhinged rock & roll. Overdriven slide guitar and soulful electric piano lay a solid foundation for the bizarre backwoods odyssey "22 Swamps," which centers on a chance encounter with a zombie moose. (The living undead are clearly a fixation for Fattback; its last album was called Briefly a Zombie.) Elsewhere, the revved-up funk of "Hey Pretty Lady (Take A Look At My Legs)" contains this summer's best pickup line: "Hey pretty lady, take a look at my legs!" Who can resist such bravado, either from a gentleman caller or a rock band?

These mostly jokey, absurdist songs would make Canary a one-and-done listen if the band's chops weren't so dead-on. Dave Hagerty (guitar), John Joern (drums) and Grady Breidanbach (keyboards) share the microphone, but they all possess a carnival barker's confidence as well as a high degree of control over their respective axes. The instrumental "Surfwax My Saddle," which is full of reedy combo organ chords and barbed-wire guitar licks, could have been lifted from some '70s spaghetti-Western soundtrack, and "Tow That Line" sounds like Little Feat on a meth-and-barbecue bender. Canary works by marrying never-miss grooves to rousing, often hilarious lyrics and, amazingly, the whole thing doesn't come off as a novelty.

—Christian Schaeffer

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail for more information.

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