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May 2009
Day of the Outlaw PRONTO
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Day of the Outlaw
Black Mountain Majesty
Self-released

While Top-40 country continues to wallow in Toby “I love to sell my image to a crappy restaurant chain while I pretend I’m a cowboy” Keith land, there’s still a few good ole boys out there who understand what 100% pure American country music stands for, and they come from … California?

Well believe it or not, the four fellas who make up Day of The Outlaw know damn well what southern rock is all about, in spades. Right off from their first track, “Truckin’ Country” from the new album Black Mountain Majesty, they lay down the law in fast, hard drivin’ licks and some nice and fancy lyrics:

Rollin’ and I’m reelin’/ And I’m rhymin’ and I’m stealin’
we gonna sleep when we’re dead
I said baby, I ain’t lyin’/ So quit with your cryin’
Truckin’ Country’s where we’ll head…that’s what I said

Think Steve Earle with some White Stripes and Clutch mixed together in a big heepin’ bowl of tasty, tasty Texas-style chili — no beans, lots of meat — and enough heat to burn the top of your mouth off, baby.

Stewart Eastham’s vocals and guitar work are blissfully free of any flag-waving pretensions, and Spurgen Dunbar’s lead guitar is as sooth and tasty as a bottle of Bushmill’s. Pour in some drivin’ drum-work from Cosmo Jones, and a strummin’ bass by Burke Ericson and you got a recipe for some truly great music.

The CD album (the paper kind — good on ya’, guys!) also lists a whole kit-an-kaboodle of back-up musicians involved on various songs. Visit their website, www.dayoftheoutlaw.com, if you want a list. (They even have a free sticker you can ask for— hell, who doesn’t like free stickers?) —Brandon Whitehead


Pronto
All is Golden
Contraphonic

Chicago’s own Pronto is the indie-rock solo project of Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, and like most of those bands from the ‘90s their newest album All Is Golden is a radio-friendly little toe-tapper.

While their promotion sheet calls All Is Golden “a ‘70s-inspired tome that serves as a record of action.” This is really pretty standard indie-pop.

With the help of band-mates Greg O’Keeffe, Erik Paparazzi (Cat Power) and Tunde Oyewole (Childballads) Jorgensen has created a slick and easy-on-the-ears sound, particularly on tracks like the jazzy “I Think So,” which could easily be from any John Hughes teen-angst movie.

“Had and Have” displays that alt-country sound made so famous by a parade of indie bands. “All is Golden” does manage to capture a little ‘70s disco-mania, although it’s so laid back it’s almost like a remix version. The rest are all tasty little tunes, although none stand out as exceptional, but then this album doesn’t really feel like that was a goal: It’s just some really good musicians having fun.

Anytime an album is referred to as a “project,” particularly when the founder is already in a successful full-time band, you have to wonder what you’re gonna get. All Is Golden is pretty much what you’d expect from a member of Wilco, and any fan of them will probably like Pronto (hmmm… “Pronto”… “Wilco”…even then names sound alike).

While not exactly pushing any musical boundaries here, Pronto has a tight, clean sound and plenty of indie-cred behind them — as long as they stay away from the more folksy type indie crap that far to many have adopted out of laziness or sheer lack of imagination.

Given the quality here that should not be a problem. —Brandon Whitehead

Brandon Whitehead can be contacted at brandonw@kcactive.com

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