This band has more chops than a cable TV karate-movie marathon. Sure, the Nashville outfit is plenty capable of catchy songwriting and high-lonesome harmonies, but the real payoff of hearing the Infamous Stringdusters in a live setting is their absurdly proficient display of improvisation. These extensive jams take center stage on the group’s first live album, such as guitarist Andy Falco’s arresting, jazzed-up solo on “The Hitchhiker” and the sinuous frenzy of notes that dobro player Andy Hall releases at the end of “Masquerade” to help an otherwise cheesy song transcend into ambrosial balladry.
Despite taking an unconventional approach to their craft in terms of composition, this is unmistakably a bluegrass act. No drum kit, electric instruments or studio magic here. While other bands’ amps may go to eleven, they’ll need more than sheer volume or technological wizardly to kick more ass—and have more fun doing it—than these guys. The result is thirteen tracks of raw, rootsy ruckus guaranteed to still sound good when the whiskey wears off.
Infamous Stringdusters play The Top Hat Thursday, Jan. 26, with Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, at 10 PM. $18/$15 adv. at Ear Candy or seafarerentertainment.com