Yeah, I Carve Cheetahs

Hillgrass Bluebilly Entertainment

By Lee Jergensen
January 2012

For those of you who are not familiar with Restavrant (pronounced restaurant) they are a Texas born and bred, Los Angeles-based duo whose driving punk blues are laced with country, rock, techno and screaming vocals that are as unique as the music is infectious. Fans of deep blues and punk blues need read no further, you’ll find their new CD Yeah, I Carve Cheetahs one of your favorite releases for 2012.

For those of you still reading this; the driving percussion which is based on J State’s home made drum kit comprised of suitcase kick drum, Texas license plate high hat, old automotive rims and anything else he could find in his garage, kitchen and recycle bin (and is constantly evolving), provides a unique and intense sound. J plays or perhaps pummels this junkyard dog with a wild abandon which clangs, bangs and crashes and still manages to include almost melodic passages. The percussion, when teamed with Troy Murrah’s guitar which sounds a bit like the raunchy illicit love child of R.L. Burnside and George Thorogood, and the help of some well placed synthesizer, produces a sound and a sonic attack unlike much else.

This twelve track CD assaults you instantly with “Six Years” a stomp-driven tune that lets you know what you’re in for and gets your foot involuntarily involved right away. The second track, “Yes, I Guess,” takes you from frenzied slide guitar to drunken waltz and back again, dropping you into the punk blues of “Fight Myself,” in which I especially enjoy J State’s percussion when it sounds like everything in the back alley dumpster gets a good thrashing. The rocking dirty, droning hills-style guitar of “Wild Witch” and frantic rocking pace of “BEV D” keep the energy level meter pegged; if your foot isn’t stomping at this point, check with your doctor, you might be dead. The mood shifts for the title track which is more of an alt rock song but still laced with plenty of raunchy slide guitar and “Oakley Shades” which has a more of a techno beat to it. “Watch Me Drive” starts off as hard driving rock anthem and drives off into a blues jam that ends sounding like Brian Eno and Mississippi Fred McDowell dropped acid together, but it works. With “Lie O’ My Life” the deep blues vibe is back in a road house rocker that pulls you into the dirty guitar riffs of “Hey Dolly.” “Bad Moon,” the only cover on the CD, is close to unrecognizable from the original and I almost hesitate to call it a cover, it has a much more of a country blues flavor to it than Credence Clearwater Revivals’s original version. “See It Now,” with its alt folk rock feel and heavy use of synthesizer, didn’t at first seem to fit with the rest of the CD, but on further listening became a welcome draw down at the end. If the disc had ended the way it started, I would have had to sit in the silence still listening to the buzz angrily caroming around in my head.

So, to the more mainstream blues fans, approach this CD with an open mind; chances are you are in my age demographic, that we’ll call middle aged or so. There’s nothing here that isn’t already in your musical vocabulary, it may take you more than one listen to get into the groove, but you’ll be rewarded. I’ve found that this is true with most albums I’ve liked over the years; the ones that grow on you are the ones that continue to get play time.

And to the boys in the band and Keith down at Hillgrass Bluebilly Records, this has become one of my favorite drive time CD’s ... I’ll be forwarding you the speeding tickets.

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