About ten months ago, I did a review on Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band. It was a weird review in that their entire new album The Sequel hadn’t been released yet, but rather a six song sampler that Mark so kindly asked me to review with the expectation that the full album would be recorded and released by that summer. Well one thing led to another and that release was postponed until just recently. Now with five new tracks Mark has once again requested I share my thoughts, so I’ll be re-using some words from my initial review of The Sequel as well as adding my new thoughts as well.
Mark Stone lists artists such as grunge legends Alice In Chains, southern rock greats The Charlie Daniels Band and country rock royalty The Eagles as influences, all are three of my absolute favourite bands, as well as other influences spanning from country to southern rock. This was why I was initially intrigued to review Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band, and it’s why I continue to be intrigued to write this continuation of the review.
First things first is that The Sequel opens with a different track now. My Neck of the Woods is the opening track now (Living The Dream opened up the initial six track sampler). My Neck of the Woods is slow and creepy and has some sludgy sounds to it. It’s the heavier choice to start the album off compared to Living the Dream, but I may have gone with a song that has a little more punch to start the album off.
No One’s Leaving brings in Mark Stone’s country influence. It even adds some fiddle and steel guitar to the mix, further showing the capabilities of Mark Stone’s music writing. Actually, No One’s Leaving is probably one of the best songs on the album, because it is completely different; it’s the only tune that doesn’t have the sludgy guitar sound and it’s the closest to a country song without a really being a country song. It reminds me of a John Mellencamp song, but I think that’s cause the sound of the fiddle reminds me of his song Cherry Bomb. I think they call it “heartland rock” (they really have a sub-genre for everything, don’t they?) and I think that’s a good term to use to describe No One’s Leaving. Before the five new tracks, the only other softer song on the album was Living The Dream, a light-hearted country rock tune with some really nice melodies, plus some sludgy sounding guitars to add some grunge influence to the sound.
Mudder Trucker is something I’d have expected from the band before having listened to the first two tracks. This tune has the roadhouse blues attitude of some of my favourite classic rock songs, reminiscent of songs by ZZ Top or The Doors just with the guitars distorted FAR more and is a song I feel is more to Mark Stone’s signature sound. Lost Weekend also makes for a unique mixture of hard southern rock and even some alternative influences and is right up there with Mudder Trucker as one of the more badass songs on The Sequel.
Among The Sequel‘s five new tracks is I Want To Kiss You In The Country. This track is another country influenced love song, even more light hearted than No One’s Leaving and even a little more catchy. Next up is my favourite of the new tracks Whiskey Talkin‘. Another roadhouse blues influenced song, but with a much slower pace, it continues that signature sound of what a “dirty country band” ought to sound like. Better Man loses me right at the beginning of the song. “I love you like a fat kid loves cake” just isn’t the kind of lyric I feel belongs in a song, not for its content but just because it just doesn’t sound professional, and just as I start to get used to the dirty barnyard blues sound of the song, that lyric is repeated again. If I had to judge the song beyond that lyrics I’d say it’s a worthwhile track, different from anything else on The Sequel.
The remaining two new tracks on The Sequel include the heavily Eagles influenced Free, Easy and More, which holds back on the heavily distorted guitar sounds and rather has a fun 70’s style crunch sound to its guitars and adds in a banjo at the beginning and some acoustic guitars to add some texture. The last new track is another slow song. I Won’t Miss You MN isn’t really country influenced like the other slow songs on the album but is rather a standard rock song. I don’t know what my favorite slow song on The Sequel is, but I Won’t Miss You MN stands out by being as different from the other songs as it is.
Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band still end The Sequel with She Like’s Dixie, an obvious double entedre. It is unquestionably the fastest song on the album, with its “Chuck Berry” riffs and never ending drum pounding. I openly stated in my initial review how I believe this is definitely the perfect finale for the album. It has everything I like in a closer, it opens your eyes and leaves you wanting more. My favourite part of the song is the inclusion of the old classic “Dixie” (better known as the car horn for the General Lee on Dukes of Hazzard) in its guitar solo. I just thought that was very clever.
I had one complaint on the initial six track sampler in the production of the drums, particularly the hi-hat, which comes out much louder than everything else. That problem was fixed with the five new tracks, but unfortunately remains in the six previously existing tracks. Aside from that small detail, I really wasn’t sure what to expect before listening to these songs. I had my thoughts on what I was in for and I’m pleased to say that my expectations were exceeded after having listened to the initial six tracks. I was expecting a dirty hard rocking roadhouse band, but I got some terrific well written songs that really did blend many more modern rock styles with country influence like I’ve never heard before, going from “heartland rock” to heavy grungy roadhouse blues and not caring what listeners think. Now with the five new tracks I have a similar outlook on the album, given that the five songs are merely an extension of the other six songs and keep the dirty blues and soft hearted ballad sounds. It proves that the initial six track sampler of The Sequel showed Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band‘s style and attitude perfectly intact all along.
“Mudder Trucker” – My slightly new perspective on The Sequel also comes with a different highlight. I mentioned this in the review, but I’m more convinced now than before that sludgy badass roadhouse songs are the signature sound that Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band are going for and I find Mudder Trucker to be the quintessential badass song from The Sequel and the perfect song to show where Mark Stone’s attitude is at on The Sequel.
7.5 (Out of 10)
|1.||My Neck of the Woods 3:47|
|2.||No Ones Leaving 2:53|
|3.||Mudder Trucker 2:58|
|4.||I Wanna Kiss You In The Country 3:34|
|5.||Whiskey Talkin’ 5:45|
|6.||Better Man 3:32|
|7.||Lost Weekend 2:15|
|8.||Free, Easy and More 2:57|
|9.||Livin The Dream 4:00|
|10.||I Won’t Miss You MN 3:38|
|11.||She Likes Dixie 02:51|