I'm a sucker for the Dobro. Also, for loping guitar riffs punctuated with a deep pluck à la Johnny Cash's intro to "Folsom Prison Blues." And there's nothing better than vocals with a smoky twang. Ten Foot Tall & 80 Proof's new album ties in all these elements, especially on the swampy swagger of "You Back on My Mind" and the wistful boot stomp of "One Night Man."
Still, Another Round begins with the superficial sentiments of so many bad pop country bands. "Feelin' Alright" suffers from lines like "Thank God for HD TV" and "Tap the keg, turkey's fryin', touchdown—the other team's cryin'." It's almost as endearing as a "Friday Night Lights" episode, but leans too far into the cheeseball suburban country of Brad Paisley's "American Saturday Night." Similar problems sprout up with "That's My Girl," wherein lead singer Kris Clone gets caught up in the bland story of a generic curvy girl at a bar. Yawn.
But the Bozeman-based band sets itself apart from mainstream detritus by the album's last half. A nod to Jerry Reed, well placed puns ("Haggard & Cashed") and, mostly, the smarts to ride that line between tough country talk and candid self-deprecation makes this a strong recording.
Ten Foot Tall & 80 Proof plays the Badlander Friday, Jan. 22, at 9 PM with the River Creek Stream Boys. $5.