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Bassholes (Dead Canary Records)

By now, all the griping about the Bassholes being the true originators of blues punk has been rendered moot. Mastermind Don Howland has always championed arcane bluesmen, so it's no surprise he's become one himself.

Despite a recent solo disc and rumors that he's dead, Howland's come up with a kind of definitive Bassholes record here. There's pounding garage rock; dark, forest-walking blues -- even a remorseful hillbilly banjo beauty. It's all backlit with beatnik vibes that best yet another trend Howland seems to have presaged: the atmospheric folkie.

It also helps that Cleveland drummer Lamont "Bim" Thomas is less shambling than before, as if touring with his other gig, This Moment in Black History, has toughened him up a tad. With Thomas holding things together, the Bassholes' high standing in the props-denied canon remains firm.

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