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Deadstring Brothers 

Starving Winter Report (Bloodshot)

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Take a bouquet of "Dead Flowers," pour in some "Cripple Creek" and add a few grams of "Sin City," and you'll have the recipe for the Deadstring Brothers' brand of twangy roots rock. Gram Parsons' presence is felt in the opening tune, "Sacred Hearts," an intoxicating example of boozy country rock. The Band's influence shows up in the rollicking cover of "Get Up Jake" and also through Ross Westerbur's wonderful piano and organ work. Frontman Kurt Marschke is clearly inspired by Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones: His vocals project a Mick-like Southern Comfort drawl, while his guitar riffs occasionally channel Keith.

Having prominent influences isn't a bad thing. It's what you do with them that's important, and the Deadstring Brothers have concocted a terrific set of ramshackle tunes. Songs like the loose-limbed "Talkin' Born Blues," "Toe the Line" (with its Muscle Shoals horn flourishes), and the slow, simmering "Lights Go Out" all demonstrate a band loaded with talent and charisma. Like fellow Motor City bands the White Stripes and Detroit Cobras, the Deadstring Brothers take rock's past and breathe new life into it.

More by Michael Berick

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