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Lately, Doug McKean has played guitar with Rosavelt, the Whiskeyhounds, and Tim Easton, between gigs with the Boys From County Hell. He was singer-bassist of '90s punkers GC5. Now, on a solo debut full of wistful barroom rock and roll, singer-guitarist McKean is joined by Rosavelt frontman Chris Allen, Cleveland bluesman Austin "Walkin' Cane" Charanghat, and what seems like the rest of the Northeast Ohio scene.

True to McKean's pickled lyrics, the band plays like a home-cooked take on the Replacements ("Tune Me Out"), and when the Rob Williams-led horn section chimes in, the party swings like a Van Morrison backing track ("Down in Flames"). On "Life in Blue," a raspy McKean confesses, "We are the blessed/We are the cursed/We're at our best when we're at our worst." If that's the case, then Heels Up is some of the city's best players at their worst -- thankfully.

More by D.X. Ferris

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