the value of repackaging

We Didn't See You On Sunday (Touch And Go)
P.W. Long's Reelfoot
Varnaline (Zero Hour)
Varnaline

By Roark

Southern rock appears to be making a comeback but to whom? All the redneck kids are into gangsta rap now. Aspiring singer/songwriters who cut their teeth on Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special would be s.o.l. if it weren't for college radio (which can make any absurd style of music "cool" i.e., "lounge" music). Call Southern rock something different say, "No Depression" and suddenly it's cool again.

P.W. Long's Reelfoot is what Molly Hatchet would sound like if they were produced by Steve Albini and had fired two of their guitarists. Actually, about half of this disc is P.W.'s solo acoustic stuff, which is quite good. The song "Jelly" is creepy: "C'mon down an' sit on my bed/C'mon down, take care o' Red". P.W. does an excellent job of capturing the old-school sound of folk blues, with his flat, deeply inflected tenor voice.

Varnaline confused me, however. Upon first glance of their cover art a trio of lionesses ganging on some pathetic water buffalo or something I thought this was just another lame hardcore band. But the first song, "Lights," was a cool, melodic rocker. Other songs took on a country-ish twang that delivers on what critics say bands like Wilco and Son Volt promise. Varnaline takes "No Depression" to its most ragged, its crudest elements infused with punk energy. So I say, let the South do it again, if it sounds this good um, yeehaw.