Even though Reckless Kelly drapes itself with the “alt-country” label, the Austin-based band’s pop hooks seem suspiciously mainstream. With Bulletproof, they often wander from the roots rock pasture into fluffier storylines, too. “You Don’t Have to Stay Forever” leans precariously into the cheesy CMT/GAC video world, where average dudes pine for and inexplicably get the pin-up girl. And like the fantasy story, the guitar solos seem technically glossy but emotionally dull—always in the safety zone, never jumping the tracks.
That said, the band does it right when they sing about open roads and natural disasters. “God Forsaken Town” (a song about Hurricane Katrina but, wisely, never overtly mentioned), discards cliché lines about love for more engaging details: “Voices on the radio crackin’ off and on,” children in the tree tops, the rain stinging your neck, and Xs on the window panes.
And in “Ragged as the Road” guitarist Willy Braun belts out, “I’m rollin’ faster than a locomotive/Tougher than the edge of the Rockies/Hotter than a smokin’ gun.” It captures a night out on the town or a fast, dusky drive on the highway in a pickup truck, and it’s hard not to want to raise a beer to the sentiment. (Erika Fredrickson)
Reckless Kelly plays The Other Side Tuesday, April 14, at 8 PM. Tom Catmull & the Clerics open. $15/$12 advance.