Deep in the Ditch
8 out of 10
Automag ain’t your Daddy’s Southern Rock. They are a moonshine fueled four piece out of Johnston County North Carolina. Never heard of JoCo? Well, you’ve heard of Flowers’ Moonshine and NASCAR right? Where do you think that shit originated? JoCo. Damned straight.
These boys fly their New Southern Outlaw flag drenched in mud, blood, shine, metal, Hank, cheap beer, and a lil’ JoCo stank for good measure. With songs like 4 Lo (the album title Deep in The Ditch comes from a line in the song) swinging with plenty of Southern swagger and double innuendos to make AC/DC blush. Ya might think it’s about good old fashioned mud boggin’ but I’m tellin’ you it’s all about that not so innocent Southern Bell pussy.
Automag has made a career singing about shine, bikers, good clean Country livin’ (oxymoron I know..), and a whole lot of drinking. Their third album may be their most accessible from a wide range of audiences. From today’s Country listeners (think Jason Aldean, Black Stone Cherry, and early Steve Earle) to the hard rock AC/DC aficionados and later day Metallica fans can all find something to celebrate in this album.
Do It celebrates any and every Friday or Saturday night hangin’ with your buddies, tailgates down, beer and shine being passed around a huge ass bon fire while your girl swings and sways to the music blaring out the pickups windows.
The big surprises on the album are actual ballads. We’re not talking Automag’s original ballad Black Mountain (never officially released but MUST be put on their next album. Hear me Mr. Paul Quinn? You want Rock and Country stations to play your shit? Black Mountain is the key to it. It is as relevant today as it was 10 years ago. More so now, look at the music landscape. Blackberry Smoke, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Black Stone Cherry, etc. etc. Black Mountain is right up there with them today.)
Where was I? Oh yeah, the ballads. Think of Me and In Your Arms may surprise long time fans of Automag. Full out songs of love and longing with acoustic tinges and the wonderful Wendy ‘Woo’ Brancaccio backing up Quinn’s mournful vocals aren’t the norm for Automag but fit well on the album and live it takes the shine fueled machismo of an Automag show down a couple steps and allows the audience to catch their breath, squeeze the cycle sluts a little tighter and simply appreciate good song craftsmanship.
I’m not saying that Automag is going soft, with the grit and swagger of In The County and the ridiculous riff running through Raise Hell, there can be no mistake that the boys in the band are still swinging a massive set of hard country tinged rock and full blown JoCo attitude.
The drumming on Deep in the Ditch may just be the best I’ve heard on an Automag album. The production of the album has finally been taken care of and at the level that all previous Automag albums should have been at. Dave Cook isn’t as technical as his predecessor Mike Cook (no relation), but Automag music needs a fly by the seat feel the swing of the beat drummer and Dave’s ability to swing one minute and beat the drums to bloody hell the next is what allows Automag’s swagger and power to reach its full potential.
This isn’t Hellbound, The band’s first album. But then, there isn’t else out there that is. My mistake and a lot of other peoples is that they constantly try to compare new Automag against Hellbound. While it isn’t fair to the new material it does say something about how strong their debut album was and still is. Production value aside, I’ll put Hellbound up against anything else released in the last 10 years. It remains in constant rotation on my iPod, it is one of four albums I tell people about to this day that they need to check out when they are asking me for new music or new bands to listen to (Throttlerod’s Hell and High Water, Isabelle’s Gift’s American Idle, and Brand New Sin’s self titled debut being the other three).
But this is a good solid album you can hang your hat on so throw it on the stereo, drop the tailgate, take a swig of some good ol’ fashioned Flowers‘ shine, smoke a lil kind, grab your favorite girl, and drop the hammer on 9 great tunes.