Sound Advice: Joecephus & The George Jonestown Massacre rock the Poplar Lounge

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I never know how to describe Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre? Country-core maybe? Sleazy Tonk? Oh well. No matter what you call their music, this hard working, style-mixing crew is at the Poplar Lounge tonight (Friday, August 20) at 10:30 celebrating the release of Hell or High Water, a fantastic-sounding CD that brings together elements of stoner country and hardcore with nods to reggae and 90's-era indie rock with guitar riffs that could make the corpse of Ronnie James Dio grin from ear to ear.

Apparently Joecephus and the boys don't rock for free. But “Cash Grass or Ass,” Hell or High Water's hard-edged opener isn't the group's most original track. It hasn't been that long since Memphis' Joint Chiefs were tearing up local clubs with a similar song inspired by the same bumper sticker slogan. Fortunately, things only get better.

What's unique about this recording is how the band's guitar sounds are often incredibly warm and embracing—like you might expect from great country—even when they are coming on like a jackhammer to the face. The subject matter is familiar: Whiskey, weed, bad judgment, and the ensuing regret (or lack thereof). “Honky Tonkin' Ways,” which comes off as an homage to “Jerk You Off my Mind,” the best known track from the Massacre's previous CD Smothered and Covered, is a humorous and satisfying slice of outlaw cow-punk, but with a few exceptions the best songs collected here cleave closer to Lemmy than to Waylon.

Standout tracks on Hell or High Water include an atypically hipster-ish number called “The Devil Inside,” the pot-smoking anthem “Burn One Down” and “Days Gone By" which mines the more melodic and heady side of early 80's metal. Eat your heart out Hank III.

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