The problem with many bands who crowd a stage with five or more hippie-looking dudes and musically mine the blues/roots/soul thread is that, for all the extra hearts and pumping blood and sweat and floating hair, they often come off sounding limp. Especially on record. When I looked at a few pictures of Seattle's Cody Beebe & The Crooks in preparation for listening to their latest album, Out Here, I noticed the lead singer/guitarist, Beebe, with a Les Paul in hand making guitar face in one shot and shredding a Flying V in another. I thought, "Man, if you're going to wrangle these Gibson axes, you better not be limp."
Thankfully, this band is not.
What immediately struck me with the opening tracks, "Alleyway" and "Hold the Line," is the guitar tone. It's thick, loud and stinky with big, fat riffs and leads that make me pull a guitar face just listening to them. The record changes musical directions here and there the rest of the way, but it never veers from the momentum established out of the gate. I suspect these cats take it up a notch or two live, as well.
Ignore any talk about this being "Southern rock" from the Northwest. This is groove-heavy music for people who can handle a winter north of I-70.
Cody Beebe & the Crooks play the Top Hat Thu., Sept. 26, at 10 PM. Free.