by Robert Bell
AMERICAN AQUARIUM, AUSTIN LUCAS
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
That probably won't come as a surprise for fans of the Raleigh, N.C., band. Over the last six years, they've polished their rowdy barroom country rock with relentless touring. But there's a softer side, too, that comes out a bit more on this latest outing. The shuffling drunkard's lament "Harmless Sparks" might be the most subdued thing they've ever recorded. It's like they somehow managed to commit an actual, real-life hangover onto tape.
Elsewhere on the album, the band continues to explore the enduring themes of drink, drugs, women and regret. Pills, powders, gas station coffee and booze by the boatload are nearly omnipresent. On "Savannah Almost Killed Me" B.J. Barham describes how "Savannah almost killed me / with cheap beer and Irish whiskey / singing songs loud and out of tune." I imagine for these seasoned, hard-partying road warriors, you could substitute Savannah for a number of other locales: Chattanooga, Oxford, Richmond, Nashville, and probably Little Rock.
The band shares this album release show bill with Austin Lucas (also of the Last Chance roster), the Indiana-based singer/songwriter whose punk/folk hybrid and similarly dogged touring have earned him a steady fanbase. As Times contributor Joe Meazle recently put it, Lucas "sings with a great set of finely-tuned pipes that have that high-lonesome sound in spades, and his lyrics are full of piss, vinegar and adolescent angst." For country rock fans, it's going to be a tough choice between this and the Ben Nichols and Adam Faucett show.