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Roger Hoover and the Whiskeyhounds 

Panic Blues (Bandaloop Records)

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As a solo performer and leader of the Whiskeyhounds, Roger Hoover regularly holds court in his hometown of Akron, though he sounds as if he grew up in a backwoods Tennessee family that worshiped at a racially diverse gospel church. Panic Blues, the Whiskeyhounds' second album, opens with "Keep Me Away From You," country blues that sounds like John Fogerty fronting the Black Keys. Country boys in a rock world, Hoover and the 'Hounds can unplug or go electric as needed.

Fumbling through misfortune and chasing love, Hoover finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun and succumbing to "two-dollar girls finished by three-dollar wine." He sings in the faux drawl of a wandering soul who's strayed off the beaten path and has miles to go before he gets back to it. "I can only make one promise," Hoover confesses at one point. "I'm gonna go like Dylan Thomas." Fortunately for Hoover and his fans, he's already proved he doesn't need to live the life to make the music.

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