California Speedbag 

The Fire of Misery (Smog Veil)

Gary Lupico's heart is the biggest truck stop in the world. This we learn of the California Speedbag singer- guitarist on his band's wounded, wonderful new album. "You don't have to drink alone/I'll be right there by your side," Lupico wails on "Don't Drink That Whiskey." "I've got a pint, let's take a ride."

And what a ride it is. Though this group and its hard-rockin' honky-tonk have been around since the '80s -- effectively predating the alt-country movement by years -- this is California Speedbag's first full-length in more than a dozen years.

But like the bourbon that seemingly serves as the band's muse, California Speedbag only improves with age. From the rollicking DUI-in-waiting that is "Shitlist" to the pedal-steel-inflected sting of "Empty Bottle, Empty Life" to the homespun hilarity of "White Trash Is People Too," there's nary a dull -- nor sober -- moment on Fire. Get this record, "pop the cork to another lucky evening," and feel the burn.

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