Big Penny, 2007


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Look! Lynyrd Skynyrd is back! Or at least SwampdaWamp is doing its best to rekindle that Southern rock spirit circa 1975.

Actually, a bigger debt is owed to Jimmy Page musically, as many of these riffs sound like Zeppelin throwaways, the kind that would surface on Page's post-Zep work. But the lyrics and the attitude are unabashedly Southern; naturally, references to good ol' boys drinkin' beer at NASCAR events are here, but also an underlying pride in the party power of music and a nod to Southern hospitality surface here and there.

This doesn't make SwampdaWamp essential listening, but you just know it's the type of record that will be all over KFC commercials, NFL highlight reels on the FOX morning show and blasting out of the windows of that rusty green pickup truck with the gun rack just ahead of you on the highway.

"I'm Feeling Saturday" is vintage boogie Southern rock, a typical ode to partying complete with a guitar solo (where have those gone, anymore? Score one for this band) and those snarky asides between verses that David Lee Roth used to make on the early Van Halen records. The disc then shifts into low gear with "Sometimes," which recalls all those stupid Kid Rock crossover songs like "Picture" that rednecks love and I hate. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One would expect some country to surface here, and it does from time to time, but the nods to Zeppelin riffs and Southern rock, plus a slight jam band mentality a la the Allmans, overshadow any blatant pandering. In fact, the closer "Tastes Like Chicken To Me" is a swipe at the failures of the Bush administration, the throaty vocals growling over top of what sounds vaguely like an early Pink Floyd track. The drums kick in about halfway through and ratchet the intensity up; surely, the sentiment will piss those loyal Bush followers off, but the music is good so nobody will care. Fans request this one often at SwampdaWamp shows, and with good reason.

SwampdaWamp tries hard to be cocky, confident and cool, succeeding some of the time, like on "Birthday," which is the best Soundgarden song I've heard in a long time. However, skipping ahead to "The River" will yield the best results; the song plods along with no point for three minutes but then, out of nowhere, a rock jam suddenly develops, smoking guitar solos trading with keyboard riffs on top of a solid rhythm section. It is far too short but indicitave of this band's considerable talent.

The sad thing is that SwampdaWamp never gets past their tribute-band stance. They owe a debt to Skynyrd, Zeppelin and Soundgarden that has been paid on this disc, and it's certainly fun in a 1975 sort of way, but it never transcends anything more than an homage to those bands and a celebration of tired Southern cliches (if you have to ask what "Sunday Southern Tradition" is about, you haven't been paying attention, yet this band dwells on the redneck NASCAR scene like it's the greatest invention of the modern age).

I would probably pay a couple dollars to see these guys in a bar, and they would tear up the joint. Transcending that mentality will take some originality if SwampdaWamp ever wants to make their mark in the music world, but if you're looking for some basic Southern rock that you can drink beer to, this is a cut above the rest.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2007 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Big Penny, and is used for informational purposes only.